Khmer - Cambodian  
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  • The national language of Cambodia.
  • belongs to the Mon-Khmer subfamily of the Austro-Asiatic languages.
  • written with an Indian-derived alphabet.
  • spoken by some 8 million people.
  • has had considerable influence from Sanskrit,and Pali. Some of these influences, such as Sanskrit and Pali, come from the influence of Buddhism and Hinduism on Khmer culture; the latter two are the result of linguistic contact and geographic proximity.
  • the Cambodian language is somewhat unusual among its neighboring countries' languages of Thai, Lao and Vietnamese in that it is not a tonal language.
  • Dialects are sometimes quite marked; notable variations are found in speakers from Phnom Penh (the capital city) and Battambong.
  • A notable characteristic of the Phnom Penh accent is a tendency toward slang and laziness in pronunciation, much like American urban slang. For instance, "Phnom Penh" will sometimes be shortened to "m'Penh". Another characteristic of the Phnom Penh accent is observed in words with an "r" subconsonant in the first syllable (that is, where r is the second consonant, as in the English word "bread"). The r is not pronounced, the first consonant is pronounced harder than usual, and the syllable is spoken with a dipping tone much like the "hoi" tone in the Vietnamese language. For example, I have heard the word "dreey" (meaning "fish") pronounced "te"; the "d" becomes a "t", and the vowel (long A) begins low and rises in tone.
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