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Khmer Alphabet April 20, 2009

Filed under: Khmer language — arun @ 6:30 am
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Khmer alphabet   Khmer alphabet


The Khmer alphabet is descended from the Brahmi script of ancient India by way of the Pallava script, which was used in southern India and South East Asia during the 5th and 6th Centuries AD. The oldest dated inscription in Khmer, found at Angkor Borei in Takev Province south of Phnom Penh, dates from 611 AD.

The Khmer alphabet closely resembles the Thai and Lao alphabets, which were developed from it.

Notable features

  • This is syllabic alphabet in which each consonant has two forms, one with an inherent /a/ (first series) and one with an inherent /o/ (second series)
  • Vowels are indicated using either separate letters or diacritics, which written above, below, in front of, after or around consonants. The pronunciation of the vowels depends on whether a consonant they are attached to is of the first or second series.
  • All consonants have a subscript form which is used to write the second consonant of a cluster.
  • In a Khmer text there are no spaces between words, instead spaces indicate the end of a clause or sentence.
  • Inspite of efforts to standardise written Khmer, many words have more than one accepted spelling.

Used to write:

Khmer (Cambodian), a member of the Mon-Khmer group of Austro-Asiatic languages, spoken by about 8 million people in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, China, France and the USA. Khmer shares many features and much vocabulary with Thai as a result of centuries of two-way borrowing. There are also borrowings from Sanskrit, Pali, French and Chinese in Khmer.

Khmer alphabet


Khmer consonants

Subscript consonants

Khmer subscript consonants

Inpedendent vowels

Inpedendent Khmer vowels

Khmer vowel diacritics


Khmer numerals

Sample text

Khmer Sample


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

books Cambodian language courses, dictionaries, etc.


Information about the Khmer language

Information about the Khmer language and culture (includes Khmer fonts and lessons)

Online Khmer lessons

Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader with Drills and Glossary (a PDF of this textbook in available here)

Language Learning Companion for Cambodian/Khmer<

Free Khmer fonts

Information about Khmer Unicode

Online Khmer news and radio



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