If you are looking for languages similar to Khmer, you have come to the right place! The are various options like Thai, Lao, Mon-Khmer languages, Vietnamese, and much more.
These languages may interest you if you want to learn about the Khmer culture. Also, good if you are considering moving to Cambodia. Keep reading for more information!
Languages Similar To Khmer – 9 Categories!
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. Almost 90% of the population speaks Khmer.
There are many languages in Southeast Asia, languages similar to Khmer. Like, Mon-Khmer, Pearic and Vietnamese, Lao, and Thai.
These languages are similar to Khmer in grammar, vocabulary words, and pronunciation.
Finally, languages like Pali and Sanskrit have influenced Khmer’s development over the centuries.
By languages similar to Khmer, we can also gain an insight into the history and culture of native people.
This can help us understand the languages and the people who speak them. Everything about them, from their beliefs and customs to their cuisine!
All in all, learning more about languages similar to Khmer can be a great way to expand one’s knowledge of this region and its languages.
So, it’s time to know more about similarity details of languages similar to Khmer. This will help you to pick the best for you!
1. Mon-Khmer Languages:
The Mon-Khmer language family consists of languages spoken in Southeast Asian countries. They include Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.
For example, Khmer, Mon, Prâchéa, and Laven are all spoken by the Khmer people who live in this region.
These languages share similarities with Khmer, such as a common vocabulary and grammar.
Like, Khmer and Mon use sesquisyllabic word structures and share some of their words.
This means each syllable contains two consonants and one vowel in order to form a word.
For example, the Khmer word for “thank you” is “sua-sdei.” and the Mon word for “thank you” is “sdei-sua.” Both follow the same pattern.
Also, both share a lot of vocabulary. For example, Khmer and Mon use the word “sây” to mean “love.” So, we can say that they are close to each other.
2. Thai Languages:
Thai languages also share some similarities with Khmer languages. Some major languages in the Thai languages are Thai, Lao, and Shan languages.
The Thai language originates from the Mon-Khmer languages. This makes it very similar to Khmer in terms of its grammar and vocabulary.
For example, Thai and Khmer use tones as part of their phonology. This means the same word can have different meanings depending on how a person pronounces it.
Further, they include several loanwords from languages like Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese.
For example, the Thai word for “love” is “phom,” which also has its roots in the Khmer language.
Additionally, the languages have similar pronouns and verb conjugations. For example, “I am going” in Thai is ‘Chaan jaa’, close to the Khmer ‘Both jaa’.
Finally, both share many of the same sounds in everyday speech. So knowing one can help you to understand the others.
3. Vietnamese Languages:
These are the languages of people living in Vietnam and neighboring countries. Vietnamese, Muong, and Tai are also related to Khmer languages.
Vietnamese has a similar alphabet (Tieng Viet) to the Khmer language.
Also, both share some grammar structures. Like, as the use of particles after verbs, subject-verb agreement, and prepositions.
The languages also share some vocabulary with words like ‘cac’ (many), ‘can’ (soup), and ‘tra’ (tea).
Moreover, the Vietnamese phrase “Đừng lo” means “Don’t worry”, which is the same as the Khmer phrase “Both jaa”.
Finally, Vietnamese and Khmer also share similar tones, distinguishing words with similar spellings.
This makes it easier for a speaker of one language to learn the other. All these similarities mean Vietnamese is not strange for Khmer speakers.
4. Hmong-Mien Languages:
Hmong -Mien languages include Hmong, Mien, and Iu Mien. These are tonal languages with similar grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.
For example, “muaj tseeb” means “I love you” in both languages.
Hmong languages have many similarities with Khmer, including the alphabet to write them.
Additionally, there are similarities between certain words like “ga” (food) and “mjeu” (dog).
Further, the languages often use tones for distinction, similar to Khmer. This helps make it easier for someone who speaks one of these languages to learn another.
Another common point between languages similar to Khmer is postpositions or words. They come after a noun instead of before.
For instance, if someone wants to say “the house of my sister” in Khmer, they would say “sombor kon sis mea”.
Here, “mea” is the postposition for “my” and comes after the word “sis”, which means “sister”. The same is true in Hmong-Mien languages.
5. Lao Languages:
Lao is a language of the Tai-Kadai languages group, mainly in Laos and Thailand. Some other languages in this group are Thai and Shan.
These languages share many similarities with Khmer. Like, they have many lexical similarities with Khmer languages. For instance, “kon” (person) and “hong” (country).
Moreover, Lao also has similar tones to Khmer languages. This helps native speakers of Khmer languages to understand Lao.
Furthermore, the grammar structure in the Lao language is close to the Khmer language.
For example, both use the same word order for sentences, i.e., subject-verb-object.
In addition, gender distinctions are important in Khmer languages. For example, masculine and feminine nouns are also there in Lao languages.
For example, both types use the same prefixes, “mou” and “pi” to show masculine and feminine nouns.
In short, the Lao language is an important language for those who are learning Khmer.
They have many similarities regarding lexicon, tones, grammar structure, and gender distinctions.
6. Kra Languages:
Kra languages, spoken in parts of southern China and northern Vietnam, are close to Khmer. They include languages such as Kuan, Kra, and Pong languages.
Kra languages share many features with Khmer languages. For example, features such as tones and reduplication for forming words are common.
Reduplication means repeating or doubling a syllable to indicate certain grammatical distinctions. Such as plurality, reciprocity, and interactivity.
In addition, Kra languages also share some cultural customs with Khmer that can help bridge the languages.
For example, the use of gender distinctions is common in these languages.
Moreover, Kra languages often borrow vocabulary from Khmer languages. This helps speakers of the two languages understand each other more easily.
For example, a word in Kra languages called ‘phlob’ mean ‘door’ comes from Khmer. Thus, Kra languages are useful for students seeking to learn Khmer.
7. Malayo-Polynesian Languages:
People speak Malayo-Polynesian languages in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.
These include languages such as Malay, Javanese, and Tagalog.
Languages in this family have adopted words from Khmer languages. For example, the Khmer word for ‘school’, ‘sabay,’ is present in Malay and Tagalog.
Furthermore, the grammar and structure of Khmer are very common. Like, Khmer, languages such as Malay and Javanese follow a Subject-Verb-Object word order.
Additionally, both languages have a classifier system that groups items together. For example, some nouns are classified as animate or inanimate.
For instance, in Khmer, a dog is an animate object. Therefore, it has different pronouns than an inanimate object, such as a spoon.
These languages also share many cultural similarities. For instance, traditional stories and food recipes.
So, Malayo-Polynesian languages are thus useful for students studying Khmer languages.
8. Sino-Tibetan Languages:
The Sino-Tibetan family has the languages spoken in China, Tibet, and the surroundings. Some major languages are Mandarin Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese.
These languages are also similar to Khmer in terms of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.
For instance, both languages have the same verb conjugations ( i.e., present, past, and future).
Also, they use possessive pronouns (my, your, his/her) in the same way.
In addition, Sino-Tibetan languages share many cultural aspects with Khmer languages. For example, both have many common folktales, festivals, and music.
Plus, these languages also feature grammatical similarities. Like, reduplication, where part of a word is repeated for emphasis or to express a change in tense.
For example, in Khmer, there is the word “hai”, which means water. It repeats to form “hai-hai” which means boiling water.
Furthermore, Sino-Tibetan languages also share some same vocabulary as Khmer languages.
Words like “mun” (eye) and “preach” (sacred) are common in both languages. Therefore, languages similar to Khmer languages are close to the Sino-Tibetan family.
9. Burmese Language:
Burmese is spoken in Myanmar, while Khmer is spoken in Cambodia.
However, despite the geographical distance between the two countries, there are some similarities between the two languages.
Burmese has been influenced by many other languages, including Pali, Sanskrit, Mon, Tai, and English.
There are over 30 dialects of Burmese. However, the standard form of the language is based on the dialect spoken in Yangon.
One main similarity between Burmese and Khmer is that they both have complex writing systems.
Burmese uses an alphabet based on the Mon script, while Khmer uses an alphabet based on the Devanagari script.
Another similarity between these two languages is that they both have many words borrowed from Pali, which was once widely used in Southeast Asia.
Over 60% of the vocabulary in both Burmese and Khmer is of Pali origin.
Both Languages have complex honorific systems. For example, Khmer has more than 50 words that address a person of authority, such as “teacher” or “elder brother“.
Both Languages use postpositions rather than prepositions.
Meaning that words indicating location or time are placed after the nouns or pronouns they modify rather than before.
Finally, both use the same alphabet and have a subject-object-verb word order.
So, for example, the Burmese sentence “I love you” would be “A-hta-ba dei-khaung ma-yar,” while the Khmer sentence would be “Khnyom raek pi-eng.”
While there are some similarities between Burmese and Khmer, there are also some significant differences.
For example, Burmese is a tonal language, while Khmer is not.
That means that the meaning of a word in Burmese can change depending on its tone. In contrast, the meaning of a word in Khmer will not.
Other differences between these two languages include that Khmer has more consonants than Burmese.
For example, Khmer has 24 consonants, while Burmese has only 16.
Despite the differences, these two languages are both members of the Austroasiatic language family, which means they share a common ancestor.
Learning a second language helps you understand that language’s culture and people.
If you’re interested in languages similar to Khmer, we have some options for you.
Languages similar to Khmer include Thai, Malaya, and Sino-Tibetan languages. Further, Kra, Lao, and Vietnamese languages are good choices.
As you can see, many languages are close to Khmer, each with unique characteristics. Still, all share some commonalities as well!
Learning about these languages can help deepen your understanding of Khmer. In addition, this will enhance your ability to communicate with speakers worldwide.
Moreover, with this list’s help, you will learn more about different cultures and linguistic traditions. So take advantage of the opportunity to discover something new!
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