Khmer vowels

Happy new year dear friends of I See Cambodia. I hope the best for all you and let us see Cambodia in 2014 as well. I want to dedicate this first post of the year to the Khmer alphabet. I want to promote that more expatriates learn Khmer language this year, because it is very important for all of you, as well as for Cambodia. Here this good and clear video about the Khmer alphabet:

Teaching English to Cambodians

I want to share some recommendations for those who are teaching English to Cambodians without speaking Khmer. Probably professional language teachers have gone already to the characteristics of Khmer language in order to understand the linguistic logics of the Cambodian people and to elaborate a proper English language master plan. But we can see several foreigners without an education title and even from non-English-speaking countries, teaching English in Cambodia as volunteers in organizations or looking for a job to do while they live here. Many of them became occasional English teachers to their Cambodian friends, who urged them to teach them English. Continue reading

Google translate supports Khmer now

Google translate in KhmerThis is definitely a good news for the reduction of the digital gap in Cambodia: the Google Translate, has released the Khmer translation option that would make the Cambodian language accessible to  65 other global language. It is good to congratulate all persons and organizations working to make computers and Internet accessible to Cambodians in their own language, as well as Khmer language, the main modern branch of the Mon-Khmer linguistic family and a relative to Sanskrit and Pali accessible to the international community. It will be a benefit to students, teachers, journalists, economist, officials and everybody involved in the digital development of Cambodia.  Continue reading

Khmer English

A Cambodian ad in a female students’ resident. Khmer ads with English translations are becoming a part of the urban views of Cambodia.

If we have to make an updated evaluation on the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC, 1992-1993) legacy to modern Cambodia, researchers probably will conclude that English language is one of them. Saloth Sar (alias Pol Pot) was educated in Paris where he set the conditions to evolve the Khmer Rouge movement. However he was fluent in French language, as many of the middle and high class Cambodians of the French Protectorate of Kampuchea, the eradication of foreign languages was included in the extreme policies of the Khmer Rouge Era (1975-1979). Thus French language became one of the deadly victims of the regime. Although French was widely used during the UNTAC time, it is true that English was used as the official language. It creates the need of several Cambodians to serve as interpreters to UNTAC officials. Continue reading

Indian replica of Angkor Wat

India is building a replica of Angor Wat. There’s nothing to fear for our original Cambodian Angkor Wat at all. Even if the replica is set to be biggest than ours, the Patna Angkor Naga will be, surely, so anonymous to many as the 30 replicas of the Tower Eiffel or the numberless replicas of the Statue of the Liberty. See in this forum the Chinese Wall’s replicas too with amazing photos. Now well, the Mahavir Mandir Trust, an organization known in the Bihar State for the construction of hospitals and religious compounds, is the responsible of the ambitions work. It will take about ten years – Angkor Wat took about 30 during the 12th century – and it will cost 20 million US dollars !!!   It will be located 40 kilometers outside Patna. It is understandable that a country where Hindu majority would like ‘to have’ the biggest Hindu complex of the world, that it’s not in India, but in Cambodia ! Anyway, Angkor Wat or Angkor Nagar was dedicated to Vishnu, but it was converted to Buddhism some centuries after. What it cannot be understood is to spend 20 million US dollars for a replica in a country with so big social gap as India.

Update: Here in Asia Times a good development of the growing discussion. A very good description with some curious reactions like the one of a university students at Phnom Penh worry for the lost of tourism if the replica is made – it seems that for this boy Angkor Wat is just a tourist attraction like Disneyland!!! -, the optimistic perspective of Sombo Manara, the deputy chairman of the history department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, who says that ‘before we thought that all culture – like Brahmanism and Buddhism – came from India to Cambodia. But now why don’t we feel happy that our Cambodian culture is spreading back to India?’ and the funny answer of Acharya Kishore Kunal, the Mahavir Mandir Trust’s secretary, who never has come to Cambodia, who said that he is ‘slightly scared‘ to come because ‘some people [in Cambodia] want to throw shoes on me…’ Who!!! Please…

What Cambodians say about it? I asked my students to let a comment in our Facebook group – mostly in Khmer – about the news and we got the following reactions: Continue reading

Lonely… ‘Khmer’

Hua Hin. Visiting ‘Amazing Thailand‘ from the ‘Kingdom of Wonders.’ I got the 2010’s edition of Lonely Planet about Thailand (13th edition, January 2010) to read in my 12 hours bus travel from Sihanoukville to Bangkok. I have to recognize that I admire the work of Lonely Planet. It is real original and well documented. Then it is made upon the research of writers living or working in the country. The history of Thailand, according with this 2010 edition (p. 29-40), is a complete resume. I noticed only a great absent: Cambodia. Actually, it is a pity that the use of references is poor in the article. It is  said, for example, that a ‘modern linguistic theory and archaeological evidence‘  – which ones? – ‘suggest that the first true agriculturists in the world, perhaps also the first metal workers, spoke an early form of Thai and lived in what we know today as Thailand (p. 29).’ How can Lonely Planet say it? From where this conclusion came?  Continue reading

The Bokor Water Fall in silence

Once more in the Bokor Water Fall. Although the regrettable finding of garbage at the place, let by dirty visitors -

I can guest that most of them visit the Mountain in expensive cars, – we admire a beautiful site as the Water Fall. This month of February is the dry season, then water is little, but the stones, carved by thousands of years of stream, are as so majestic as the Khmer temples. This place is just more than one thousand meters above the sea level, with its summit about 4 kilometers from the sea – it is my calculation… I will check my maps.

Chantha found a perfect stony bed.

The absent of water this month – but there is a little, anyway – creates a silence and an atmosphere for meditation and relaxing at the place. Of course, we went on Thursday, but weekends, by sure and for the sign of garbage, must be crowed. Then it would be recommended to visit Bokor on weekdays.

Cambodian way of greeting

How Cambodians greet? Mr. Sophat explains in Don Bosco Talk the five positions to greet in Cambodia. It is known as the ‘Sampheah,’ where you join your hands at the level of your chest, chin, nose, eyebrows or over the head. Each position is directed to a different kind of person. Cambodians do not shake hands, kiss or hug in public. Continue reading

Peter Woznica, Polish scholar about Khmer language

Peter Woznica, a Polish scholar doing a volunteer in the Don Bosco school in Sihanoukville, speaks about the Khmer language and education in Cambodia.

Barang

Cambodians call foreigners as Barang, especially if they are gringos (North Europeans and North Americans.) But they assume that any Non-Asian person is a Barang. It corresponds in the Thai language to Farang. The origin is highly discuss but it is not derogative at all. It seems to come from Barangsaes (French or Français.) It is likely possible, because Khmer language did not have the phoneme F (now, thanks to the French influence, it has it.) It is also possible that Thai language was influenced by Khmer through the permanent cultural interaction between both countries. Continue reading