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(Cambodian), language of the Khmers. It belongs to the Mon-Khmer group of the Austroasiatic language family. There are two principal dialects in Cambodia: the northwestern (the regions around the cities of Battambang and Siem Reap) and the southeastern (the rest of the country). The Khmer alphabet originated from the Pali writing system. The earliest inscriptions discovered in the Khmer language date from the early seventh century. The modern literary language is based on the mixed dialect of the city of Phnom Penh. Khmer has an analytic structure: relations between words are expressed by word order and special auxiliary words. The older methods of word formation were typically prefixation, infixation, and reduplication; modern word formation in Khmer utilizes word compounding and— based on compounding—semiaffixation. Native single-root words consist of one or two syllables of a specific structure: the first syllable is always weak and closely united with a second (strong) syllable. The phonetic structure is characterized by a great number of vowels (two series of vowels: open and closed) and a relatively small number of consonants. The vocabulary contains many borrowings from Sanskrit, Pali, and French.
REFERENCESGorgoniev, Iu. A. Kkhmerskii iazyk. Moscow, 1961.
Gorgoniev, Iu. A. Grammatika kkhmerskogo iazyka. Moscow, 1966.
Maspero, G. Grammaire de la langue Khmere (cambodgien). Paris, 1915.
Jacob, J. M. Introduction to Cambodian. London, 1968.
IU. A. GORGONIEV