A Change of Guard

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Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cambodia’s Khmer Language Debate

Theary Seng and Supote Prasertsri
26 August 2011
On Air Highlights
ABC Radio Australia

A debate is stirring in Cambodia about the continued viability of the Khmer language. It started with a commentary that the Khmer language is in crisis and in fact, dying.

Theary Seng, founding president of the Center for Cambodian Civic Education, wrote in the Phnom Penh Post that spoken Khmer is often either crude or highly stylised, while written Khmer has not been updated for modern times.
The comments triggered controversy and heated discussion in the country and in Cambodian communities abroad, including from Professor Supote Prasertsri, formerly with UNICEF (Thailand) and UNESCO (Cambodia) as an education expert and now an advisor to a number of civil societies in Cambodia.

Presenter: Adelaine Ng

Speakers: Theary Seng, founding president of the Center for Cambodian Civic Education; Prof Supote Prasertsri, former education specialist at UNICEF (Thailand) and UNESCO (Cambodia)

Click the control below to listen to the debate:


Anonymous said...

Theary Seng
After listen to your reasonings behind why Khmer language is dying; my conclusion is that you don't understand Khmer yourself and you can't speak Khmer well either that is why you felt that way. Our language is not dying; it evolves and there are many people with expertise in Cambodian language. If you compare illiteracy among Cambodian children like the professor did; I agreed with him. If you study Khmer language, you will realize that it is very advance. Should there be a group that work and language standard like during the time of Somdech Choun Nat; absolutely. I cann't find someone to replace him yet.

Anonymous said...

Theary defended her argument very well. Considering that she left Cambodia at a very young age, about 8-9 years old and probably can read and write very basic Khmer, it seems she know about the Khmer language better than most people. Her argument in her writing and in this radio interview seem very well presented. Some of the so-called Khmer language experts don't even write and talk Khmer like her.

Anonymous said...

she should visit those universities in Cambodia and many students now taking a test to register their major in different fields such as law, economic, finance, environment etc. These tests are in Khmer not English. Khmer language dying? You can can fool the moron commented above not Cambodian public. You dont understand your own language and you call the language is dying. Stop lying to the public, Khmer are more educated than ever.

Anonymous said...

This moron at 9:46 AM did not talk objectively, he only talk against Theary because he doesn't like her political views, not because she presented her argument badly. One doesn't have to be a language expert to make a critique about the language. Theary, though have not studied the language deeply, did made a very impressive observation of the language. She said the Khmer language is a very beautiful language, the problem is there is no leadership in leading the language to the right direction, develop it into a better language. People would have agreed that many writers this day, especially journalists, can't even writer Khmer probably. They wrote an article like a child speaking, no forms, no structure and no sequence, upside down I mean. The spelling is terrible, people spell whatever way they want to spell, there is no uniformity. This is not a language problem, it is the problems of educators and policy-makers who need to look into the problems and correct them through education and policy.

Anonymous said...

By analyzing the writing, I can conclude that the moron at 9:46 AM is Warrior Blood. He always write the word "dont" without putting the apostrophe.

Anonymous said...

Theary Seng has put her argumetns so well. She has advanced the argument to improve and better our language. This is where a lot of people failed to understand her intention. WE need more people like her to raise issues. She is very articulate and in some way more eloquent than the professor. I can see whee she is coming from.

Many peole here have no ability ti see your points because it is too hard for them.
Well done Theary.

Anonymous said...

One the animosities against Theary Seng is she values western culture and people more than her own. It is not so much about the language. Her essay in Phnom Penh Post was not meant for Khmer. It was to show off her writing in English language and to impress Westerners. If she truly cares about Khmer language the essay should have been written in Khmer and directed toward Khmer audience.

Anonymous said...




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