Cal Poly Pomona

Cambodian Names

Helpful Hints for Khmer of Cambodia

  • Many Asian languages are spoken in Cambodia. Consequently, Chinese and Vietnamese names are heard frequently. French is the language of the educated class and is used with the outside world. Many words incorporated in Khmer come from French and Sanskrit.
  • The Khmer alphabet is derived from Sanskrit (Hinduism) and Pali (Buddhism). The written system has two forms "full" for formal and sacred writings, and "leaning" for informal correspondence and documents.
  • Khmer is not a tonal language. It has general intonation patterns which apply to a phrase as in English. However, to the American listener, Khmer seems to have little pitch variation even though a pitch drop is placed on final syllables.
  • Two of the same consonants may precede a vowel, e.g., "Chhean," "Chhith." There are 85 different initial consonant clusters. Khmer vowels are divided into short and long duration. There are vowels and numerous vowel combinations not heard in English, and many are similar to French vowels.
  • Khmer words are typically monosyllabic. Stress always falls on the second or last syllable when a polysyllabic word or name is used, e.g., Khmer, Sereivuth. This stress is subtle and difficult for speakers of English to detect.
  • Khmer uses a glottal stop which is made in the voice box and other stops p, t and k which are made in the mouth. these stops are often unaspirated so the p sounds like a "b," The t sounds like a "d" and the k sounds like a "g."
  • Final r, d, g, s, b, z sounds are not heard, e.g., Ngor is said as "Ngow." Some final consonants are marked for silence and are therefore written but not pronounced.
  • Names are perceived to be spoken rapidly by the American English listener
First Names Pronunciation Last Names Pronunciation
Bopha bohpah Chann/Chan jahn
Chanda chahndah Chea jeeah
Chandarith chahnrit Chhan chan
Chhoun choo-en Chhith chit
Dara Khan dahrah kahn Chhoub choob
Khan kahn Choeun jewen
Kosal kohsahl Duong doouhng
Kunthea kunt-hee-ah Em iam
Lai lah-ee Hong kowng
Lun Ang loom-ang Keo kyoo
Maly mahlee Khan kahn
Map mahp Khlot klot
Moeuk mew Kim kum
Pean pee-in Long lung
Phalla pahlah Ma mah
Phireak pee-re Meas mih-uh
Poew pohew Moa mah-oo
Rith rit Moul mool
Ry ree Muy maw-ee
Sarit sahrit Neak nek
Srey sray Meang nee-ung
Soas soo-uh Noeun ne-in
Socheat sohjee-et Nourn noo-in
Soeun sew-in Nuth newt
Sok sawk Ouk ohk
Somally sawmahlee Oum ohn
Sopea sohpeeah Phal pahl
Sophal sohpahl Phay pah-ee
Sophat sohpaht Puth put
Sophea sohpeeah Samouth sahmoot
Sopheap sohpee-up Sang sahng
Suon soo-in Sok sawk
Theary t-ih-ree Som/Sum suhm
Thy tee Thuy toy-ee
Tren trayng Touch too-ij
Vanna wahnah Voeum ve-in
Vannak wahnak You yoo
Vantha wahntah    
Veng Kim wayng kum    
Vuthy wootee    

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updated December 6, 2004