Brief introduction to Cambodian Classifiers
Specific words that are used to identify nouns are called classifiers. The Khmer language commonly uses classifiers for some words, but sometimes they are not used at the speakers discretionary. Confusing I know!
English does have it’s set of classifiers like glasses of beer, pairs of shoes, and rolls of toilet paper. This page is going to try to list some of the most common Khmer classifiers so you can try to use them or when you hear the term in daily conversation you can understand it’s purpose.
Vocab List of Khmer Classifiers
Nek – People
son-lek – sheets of paper
gbaal – animals and books
dung – number of times
dom – piece, roll, bunch
jaan – plates of food
gaew – glasses of beer, water, coke
daab – bottles of beer, water, coke
guu – pairs of things
groab – small round things like candy, seeds, pills
joan – floor as in what stories is your office on
yaang – kinds, types, ways
bon-dtub – rooms
jbab – documents, copies
jam-net – slices
daum – sticks, guns
gii-loo – kilo (kind of like some speakers have a g and not k on kit luy
maet – meters
gii-loo-maet – kilometers
baaw – bags of rice
gam-plee – set of clothes
How to use Khmer Classifiers
So now we know some Khmer classifiers how do we use them? Well, usually the classifiers comes at the end of the sentence of phrase.
For example, sbaek-jong bpii guu (two pairs of shoes). This sentence goes noun + the modifier + classifier.
Sometimes Khmer classifiers are used in a sentence or phrase when their English equivalent phrase or sentence would not use a classifiers.
For example, tnam bey groab which is 3 pills.
One more example of a Khmer classifier in a sentence form. Kynum jong dtin coca (dtek-krooik) bpii daab. I want to buy 2 bottles of coca cola. Coca cola is pronounced with just the first word as in Coca like the coca plant. Also if you wanted to say pop, soda, the generic term is dtek-krooik.
I hope this article helps a little bit on learning the Cambodian language and the small nuances the language contains.