Cambodia

Talk

Cambodians primarily speak Khmer, which unlike most languages in the region is not tonal, but makes up for it with a large assortment of consonant and vowel clusters. Young Khmer prefer to learn English over other foreign languages and you will find people who speak anywhere from basic to fluent English in major towns and cities. In market situations, most Khmer will know enough English to complete a basic transaction, though many vendors carry calculators into which they punch numbers and show you the screen to demonstrate the price.

Some elder Khmer speak French from the Sangkum Reastr Niyum period. French is still an official language in Cambodia, and used in government communications, but partly because of the Khmer Rouge era (in which those speaking foreign languages were targeted for extermination), actually encountering anyone fluent in French is rare outside of Phnom Penh. German and other European tongues can be found in the tourist centres (but are even rarer than French) and Japanese is also a popular language for tourist industry workers.

Chinese dialects, Thai and Vietnamese are spoken in Phnom Penh. Thai is more prevalent in northwestern provinces, whereas Vietnamese dominates southeastern provinces. (source: Wikitravel)

 

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