The Cambodian Alphabet

The Cambodian Alphabet


The Khmer language has the largest alphabet of all languages with 74 letters.


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The alphabet is the standard set of symbols used to write a language based on a set of principles that guide a particular language. There are many alphabets in use in today's world with the most widely used being the Latin alphabet which forms the foundation for a majority of written languages in the world. These various forms of alphabets are different from each other in regards to length and phonetic sound. When it comes to the length, however, the alphabet that holds the record for having the largest alphabet is the Khmer.

The Khmer alphabet is the script employed to write up the Khmer language which is the certified dialect of Cambodia. The alphabet is a derivative of the Pallava script that was created in the Southern region of India during the Pallava Dynasty in the 6th century. The Khmer alphabet has 74 letters, and it is written from the left side to the right. Words in a sentence are written together without any space between them.

The Khmer alphabet contains 35 consonants out of which 33 are used in the modern version of the Khmer dialect. Each Khmer consonant has an inherent vowel which means a sound that is used with each unmarked consonant symbol. Each consonant, in turn, has a unique subscript form that is written below other consonants to create consonant clusters which are consonants that are pronounced consecutively in a word that has no vowel sound between them.

There are two types of vowels in the Khmer alphabet, and dependent vowels and independent vowels. Dependent vowels cannot be written alone, and they have to be accompanied by a consonant for them to convey a meaning. These vowels are only pronounced after the consonant. Independent vowels, on the other hand, can stand on their own and still be able to convey meaning without having to be involved with a consonant.


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