Updated: Aug 31
If you are heading to Cambodia, especially Siem Reap which is known as a sweet and friendly smile Kingdom where most tourists should not miss because of the historical temples and people. Picking up a few Khmer phrases is a good idea, while Cambodians, especially younger ones can speak pretty good English. Here are the Khmer language phrases to swot upon during your visit.
BASIC KHMER GREETINGS AND ESSENTIALS
Chom reap sour [chom-reap-sour] – Hello (formal)
Cambodians have an extremely respectful culture, with elders and those of a higher social standing greeted using this more formal way of saying hello.
Susadei [soo-sa-day] – Hello (informal)
This is a more informal Khmer greeting that is used between peers or friends. It is also accompanied with a sampeah (a small bow with the hands joining together).
Soksaby [sok-sa-bye] – How are you and I am fine
It may seem strange, but the Khmer way of asking “how are you?” and the response “I’m fine” is the same. However, you can notice the difference in intonation. The question has the rising intonation and the answer has the falling one.
Chom reap lear [chom-reep-lear] – Goodbye (formal)
Again, this is the formal way to say goodbye in situations where respect is required. Don’t forget to throw in a smile.
Lear hi [lea-hi] – Goodbye (informal)
This is the more commonly used and casual way to wave goodbye.
Bah [bah] – Yes (male)
Jah [chaa] – Yes (female)
You’ll hear a lot of “bah, bah, bah” from Cambodian men and “chaa chaa chaa” from women – usually said several times.
Ot teh [ot-tei] – No
Learning how to say no will come in very handy for turning down the tuk tuk / remork drivers you’ll face as soon as you arrive in the country.
Arkun [ar-koon] – Thank you
A polite “thank you” always goes a long way, wherever you are in the world.
Som dtoh [som-toe] – Sorry/ Excuse me
This is another useful phrase that is well worth picking up before you land in the country.
Baht schweng [bart-shweng) – Turn left
Baht saddam [bart-sadam) – Turn right