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Travel Guide > Asia > Cambodia

Cambodia Languages

  
 
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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 Khmers 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 Khmers speak French from the colonial days, 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 in most parts of the country. 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.

Vietnamese is widely spoken Phnom Penh and pops up all over the country.





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