The Royal Academy of Cambodia has approved more than 260 new words this year, although experts say that number is down from last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sorn Pov, vice-president of the National Council of Khmer Language (NCKL) at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), told The Post on November 30 that this year 267 words were approved as of October, compared to 425 words in 2019. He said most of the new words were terms used in agriculture, technology and linguistics.

Pov said the reason the NCKL adopted so few new words this year was because Cambodia had been facing Covid-19 since February. Even so, he stood by the council’s work.

“This is not the National Council of Khmer Language using Covid-19 as an excuse, but it must be mentioned. We have done what we could to achieve this result,” he said.

According to Pov, there have been requests for new words from the ministries of Information; Environment; Posts and Telecommunications as well as other institutions and the private sector.

He said the requests were made to a committee under the NCKL for approval. He did not specify the number of requests the committee had received.

In addition to approving the new words proposed by the committee, Pov said the NCKL had three major responsibilities. It must publish national policy in Khmer, make a step-by-step sub-decree related to the use of the Khmer language and update the Khmer dictionary.

Lek Chumnor, vice-president of the Khmer Writers Association, said the NCKL had been working to compile and approve many new words in response to their development and use in Cambodia.

But he pushed for corrections to some words that had been translated and were broadcast on television and published in writing. He added that some words were used incorrectly in writing because most young people are influenced by foreign languages through the media.

Chumnor said many Khmer words were spelled erroneously.

“From my observation, the use of Khmer language by [news] presenters is sometimes wrong, which causes children to imitate them and mispronounce the words. These presenters need more grammar training. However, both the spoken and written language will evolve over time, and this is what the experts are trying to keep track of,” he said.

A report by the NCKL showed that from 2017 to October 20, the council had approved 4,015 new words for use in the ministries and other national institutions.