Does the Khmer language sound like it would be hard to learn (for anybody non-Cambodian)?

February 12, 2008 by  

They have to roll a lot of their words. It sounds kind of forced to me, even with native speakers of that language.

Learning a new language is always challenging. There are factors that can make it either easier or harder, however. If you already know any Asian language, or if you have ever learned a second language, learning Cambodian should be doable for you–with effort.

I have learned Thai, some Laotian and Chinese. I have heard Khmer spoken on several occasions, and have seen their writing script. I think I could learn it, given sufficient time and exposure to it. One nice thing about it is that with the writing script, at least it has an alphabet. (Chinese has no alphabet, and is therefore next to impossible to pick out words from a dictionary and/or learn to read.) Thai has a 76-letter alphabet, which is vastly easier to learn than the 6000+characters of Chinese. I think Khmer is similar to Thai, in that sense.

The best way to know if it would be difficult for you, is to get a book with a tape or CD on the language and then try imitating the practice words it gives you. To learn a language properly, it is always best to learn to read it as well.

Scientifically, there are two known skills that correlate to an increased ability to learn a language: musical ability and mathematical. I'm not sure why the math helps, but the music really helps when you learn a tonal language in which the inflection of the word will change its meaning!

Comments

One Response to “Does the Khmer language sound like it would be hard to learn (for anybody non-Cambodian)?”

  1. AsiaWired on September 29th, 2008 12:41 am

    Learning a new language is always challenging. There are factors that can make it either easier or harder, however. If you already know any Asian language, or if you have ever learned a second language, learning Cambodian should be doable for you–with effort.

    I have learned Thai, some Laotian and Chinese. I have heard Khmer spoken on several occasions, and have seen their writing script. I think I could learn it, given sufficient time and exposure to it. One nice thing about it is that with the writing script, at least it has an alphabet. (Chinese has no alphabet, and is therefore next to impossible to pick out words from a dictionary and/or learn to read.) Thai has a 76-letter alphabet, which is vastly easier to learn than the 6000+characters of Chinese. I think Khmer is similar to Thai, in that sense.

    The best way to know if it would be difficult for you, is to get a book with a tape or CD on the language and then try imitating the practice words it gives you. To learn a language properly, it is always best to learn to read it as well.

    Scientifically, there are two known skills that correlate to an increased ability to learn a language: musical ability and mathematical. I'm not sure why the math helps, but the music really helps when you learn a tonal language in which the inflection of the word will change its meaning!
    References :

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