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Council set to adjust Khmer transliteration methodology

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The National Council of Khmer Language (NCKL) at the Royal Academy of Cambodia. FACEBOOK

Council set to adjust Khmer transliteration methodology

The National Council of Khmer Language (NCKL) at the Royal Academy of Cambodia is seeking input from the general public on how foreign loanwords should be written in Khmer script.

NCKL vice-president Sorn Pov told The Post on December 14 that the survey aims to gather input in order to inform the process of standardisation of the spelling and usage of loanwords in order to achieve consistency and determine their official versions.

He said the NCKL wants written versions that accurately reflect the way the words sound after undergoing Khmerisation to ensure that they are easy for Cambodian people to pronounce and speak.

He said the survey provided options for the pubic to choose from to avoid criticisms that new loanwords are destroying the national language.

“These words are often related to technology but we must think about the feelings of the public and our goal is to find solutions,” he said.

The council has also invited monks and elders who are knowledgeable in the Pali and Sanskrit languages to comment on the loanwords to provide deeper linguistic insights.

He said some Cambodians find ways to spell the words in Khmer intuitively or through logic and reason but some of the words have political implications surrounding their adoption and may be tricky problems to solve.

“The idea is to try to prevent the people from being divided by these language issues. The best solution is to deal with it in a scientific way without giving up on the public and we leave it to politicians who are decision-makers,” he said.

According to Pov, the NCKL continues to work on a Khmer dictionary based on the work of the late Supreme Patriarch Chuon Nath – a prominent Cambodian Buddhist monk who produced the standard rules for written Khmer. He said the dictionary is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022.

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