I just published my book “Introduction to Khmer language for Spanish people.” It is a long story starting in 1999 when I arrived to Phnom Penh without speaking even English. Looking Khmer lessons for Spanish speaking people like me proved to be a difficult task. There was nothing. Cambodia and its Khmer culture was so unknown to the Spanish world as Spanish was a rare thing for most Cambodians at the time. I remember that I began to know some Cambodian professionals in Phnom Penh, who have studied in Cuba and could speak Spanish. Many of them were doctors, since many Cambodians went to study medicine in La Habana under the Vietnamese occupation. Back in Cambodia, they got good jobs in the capital with their Cuban wives and speaking a beautiful Caribbean Spanish. Meeting a Colombian was a wonder for them and one thought me Khmer for some time.
The problem of evictions and concessions on ancestral ethnic minorities is the biggest threat to their cultural identity and own sustainability. Buying or removing them from their land means to condemn the people to poverty and to destroy an ancestral culture that must be a part of our proud as a nation. In this case it is also important to protect the language. To my opinion, the language is the most important cultural mark of identity. In many other parts of the world, many ancestral peoples have been declared as extinct only because their language was alienated. In the middle of it, education is a vital to learn the young about their own culture and their role to ensure a better future for their own people inside the Cambodian nation.
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:
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 →
This 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 →
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 →
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…