Most subscript consonants resemble the corresponding consonant symbol, but in a smaller and possibly simplified form, although in a few cases there is no obvious resemblance. Most subscript consonants are written directly below other consonants, although subscript r appears to the left, while a few others have ascending elements which appear to the right.
Subscripts are used in writing consonant clusters consonants pronounced consecutively in a word with no vowel sound between them. Clusters in Khmer normally consist of two consonants, although occasionally in the middle of a word there will be three. The first consonant in a cluster is written using the main consonant symbol, with the second and third, if present attached to it in subscript form.
The consonants and their subscript forms are listed in the following table. Usual phonetic values are given using the International Phonetic Alphabet IPA ; variations are described below the table.
The sound system is described in detail at Khmer phonology. The spoken name of each consonant letter is its value together with its inherent vowel. When it is subscripted to itself, the subscript is a smaller form of the entire letter: In initial clusters this subscript is always pronounced [d] , but in medial positions it is [d] in some words and [t] in others.
The second, third and fourth of these are rare, and occur only for etymological reasons in a few Pali and Sanskrit loanwords. The aspirated consonant letters kh- , chh- , th- , ph- are pronounced with aspiration only before a vowel. There is also slight aspiration with k , ch , t and p sounds before certain consonants , but this is regardless of whether they are spelt with a letter that indicates aspiration.
A Khmer word cannot end with more than one consonant sound, so subscript consonants at the end of words which appear for etymological reasons are not pronounced, although they may come to be pronounced when the same word begins a compound. In some words, a single medial consonant symbol represents both the final consonant of one syllable and the initial consonant of the next. When final or followed by a subscript consonant, it is pronounced [p] and in the case where it is followed by a subscript consonant, it is also romanized as p in the UN system.
For modification to p by means of a diacritic, see Supplementary consonants. The Khmer writing system includes supplementary consonants, used in certain loanwords , particularly from French and Thai. These mostly represent sounds which do not occur in native words, or for which the native letters are restricted to one of the two vowel series. These can only be written in combination with a consonant or consonant cluster.
The vowel is pronounced after the consonant or cluster , even though some of the symbols have graphical elements which appear above, below or to the left of the consonant character. Most of the vowel symbols have two possible pronunciations, depending on the inherent vowel of the consonant to which it is added.
Their pronunciations may also be different in weak syllables , and when they are shortened e. Absence of a dependent vowel or diacritic often implies that a syllable-initial consonant is followed by the sound of its inherent vowel. In determining the inherent vowel of a consonant cluster i. For any consonant cluster including a combination of these sounds, a following dependent vowel is pronounced according to the dominant consonant, regardless of its position in the cluster.
When both members of a cluster are dominant, the subscript consonant determines the pronunciation of a following dependent vowel. The IPA values given are representative of dialects from the northwest and central plains regions, specifically from the Battambang area, upon which Standard Khmer is based.
Vowel pronunciation varies widely in other dialects such as Northern Khmer , where diphthongs are leveled, and Western Khmer , in which breathy voice and modal voice phonations are still contrastive. The addition of some of the Khmer diacritics can modify the length and value of inherent or dependent vowels.
The first four configurations listed here are treated as dependent vowels in their own right, and have names constructed in the same way as for the other dependent vowels described in the previous section. There are three environments where a consonant may appear without a dependent vowel.
The rules governing the inherent vowel differ for all three environments. Consonants may be written with no dependent vowel as an initial consonant of a weak syllable , an initial consonant of a strong syllable or as the final letter of a written word.
In careful speech, initial consonants without a dependent vowel in weak initial syllables are pronounced with their inherent vowel shortened as if modified by the bantak diacritic see previous section. Initial consonants in strong syllables without written vowels are pronounced with their inherent vowels. Consonants written as the final letter of word usually represent a word-final sound and are pronounced without any following vowel and, in the case of stops, with no audible release as in the examples above.
Most consonants, including a few of the subscripts, form ligatures with the vowel a and with all other dependent vowels that contain the same cane-like symbol. Independent vowels are non-diacritical vowel characters that stand alone i.
They are used in some words to represent certain combinations of a vowel with an initial glottal stop or liquid. The independent vowels are used in a small number of words, mostly of Indic origin, and consequently there is some inconsistency in their use and pronunciations. The Khmer writing system contains several diacritics , used to indicate further modifications in pronunciation. For the purpose of dictionary ordering  of words, main consonants, subscript consonants and dependent vowels are all significant; and when they appear in combination, they are considered in the order in which they would be spoken main consonant, subscript, vowel.
The order of the consonants and of the dependent vowels is the order in which they appear in the above tables. A syllable written without any dependent vowel is treated as if it contained a vowel character that precedes all the visible dependent vowels. Vowels precede consonants in the ordering, so a combination of main and subscript consonants comes after any instance in which the same main consonant appears unsubscripted before a vowel.
Words spelled with a consonant modified by a diacritic follow words spelled with the same consonant and dependent vowel symbol but without the diacritic. The numerals of the Khmer script, similar to that used by other civilizations in Southeast Asia, are also derived from the southern Indian script. Western-style Arabic numerals are also used, but to a lesser extent. In large numbers, groups of three digits are delimited with Western-style periods.
The decimal point is represented by a comma. Spaces are not used between all words in written Khmer. Spaces are used within sentences in roughly the same places as commas might be in English, although they may also serve to set off certain items such as numbers and proper names. Western-style punctuation marks are quite commonly used in modern Khmer writing, including French-style guillemets for quotation marks. However, traditional Khmer punctuation marks are also used; some of these are described in the following table.
See more videos like this on Wikitongues. Information about the Khmer language http: Online Khmer lessons http: Online Khmer dictionaries http: Online Khmer news and radio http: Free Khmer fonts http: Information about Khmer Unicode http: Khmer character picker http: Khmer , Mon , Wa.
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The Khmer writing system contains several diacritics, used to indicate further modifications in pronunciation. A Concise Cambodian-English Dictionary. London, Oxford University Press. External links. This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or hesmatcchfet.cfges: Khmer, Sanskrit, Pali.
• YouTube, Cambodian school: Khmer course (videos) • Cambodian system of writing and beginning reader with drills and glossary, by Franklin Huffman () • Note on the transliteration of Khmer by Michel Antelme, in Journal of Khmer studies ().
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