English Language Learners / Dual Language Learners / Multicultural Education Support – Language Lizard Blog


Image from The Three Little Howlers

Let’s learn about the Khmer language! We’ve gathered background information and interesting facts about the language. In addition, check out our newest children’s books available in Khmer.

Where is Khmer spoken?

Khmer, also known as Cambodian, is the official language of Cambodia and is spoken by most of the country’s 16 million inhabitants. The Khmer language belongs to the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austroasiatic language family. It dates back to the ancient Khmer Empire, one of Southeast Asia’s most powerful and influential civilizations from the 9th to the 15th century. In addition, there are significant Khmer-speaking communities in neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos.

Khmer in the United States

There are approximately 300,000 Khmer speakers in the United States, with large groups in California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

Image from The Three Little Sun Bears

Interesting Facts About Khmer

The Khmer language has one of the most extensive alphabets with 74 characters, including 33 consonants and 20 dependent vowels, along with various diacritics and additional symbols to represent unique sounds. The alphabet is written from left to right, with consonants clustered around a central vowel and spaces indicating the end of a sentence or clause.

Khmer has been heavily influenced by Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, and Pali, a sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, and is known for its elegant and decorative style.

Khmer Books – Bilingual Children’s Books

If you interact with children who speak Khmer or are learning the language, you may want suggestions on some of the best bilingual children’s books. The World of Stories series includes adventures set in diverse areas and cultures around the world. Click here to see all our bilingual Khmer books.

Are you interested in learning about other languages as well? Check out our series of posts on world languages, including Tigrinya, Hmong, Cherokee, Hindi, Dari, and Pashto!

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