Translation Higher Education Task Force

My apologies for this `quick and dirty' translation of the gifs referenced above (23 June 1997).

The top linguists and scholars of Khmer in Cambodia came together for hours of discussions in which they kindly allowed me to participate. I had asked them to identify what constitutes a complete set of Khmer characters, and so avoid the redundancy of multiple glyphs of a single character. They sent to me the letter reproduced in four gifs on this site documenting their conclusions (of which this is a rough translation). I would not at all be offended if linguists of Khmer discretely suggested better translations/transliterations.

Maurice Bauhahn

Royal Government

National Higher Education Task Force

Number: 35

Kingdom of Cambodia

Nation Religion King

Phnom Penh,

14 August 1996

Respectfully to

Mr. Maurice Bauhahn

Re: Decisions of the secretariat of the National Higher Education Task Force regarding encoding of the Khmer language into Unicode/computer.

In order to reply to the technical request to enter Khmer characters such as consonants, vowels, and signs into Unicode/computer, the members of the National Working Group on language as well as Khmer researchers at the Research Institute, Colleges, and Universities, eminent Khmer scholars: Professor Thoang Thel, Dr. Long Seam, His Excellency Chhorn Eam, Mr. Pit Chamnan, Mr. Can Mono, Mr. So Muy Kieng, Mr. Ly Sovy, Dr. Neou Sun, Mr. Ok Cuan met together to discuss and exchange ideas together 5 times at the Secretariat of the National Higher Education Task Force room 8C; i.e., 21 March, 28 March, 24 May, 31 May, and 18 July in the year 1996 and agreed together to the following:

1- Record the complete list of characters: consonants, vowels, and signs as follows:


A.1- There are 35 consonantal characters

A.2- There are 33 subscript consonants

(page 2)


Consonantal characters: ....

B- Vowel characters divided into independent and dependent vowels

B.1-Dependent vowels include 16 characters:

B.2-Independent vowels include 17 characters:


The independent vowel <<>> has no glyph, but according to pedagogical history this hidden vowel is represented by the sign "|". In the 19th century they represented the vowel <<>> with the sign <<>>.

With regard to the glyph <<>> that is used as an independent vowel in <<>> it is recommended that we keep it due to its long-standing use.

C- Signs include:

C.1-Signs used in Khmer include:


Nikohit or domlu (upper stone)

Viscomni or reamok

Mosikatoan or thmeng kondol (mice teeth)

Treysap or sok kaw (hair of kaw)

Tondakhiet or badiset

Robat or rephe

Rossanya or bantoc

Somyoksanya or phoatleu

Lek too (number 2)

Lek sasda (number 8)

Kakabat (cross) or cheung ka'eyk (crow's foot)

Kakkodneyt or phneyk moan (chicken eye)

(page 3)


Robea or khan

Robea chop or khan chop or boriyosan

Komot (cow pee)

Ruat miab or khneap
(}) or ({)

Rochosanya or Kuasomuy
(-) Write even with consonant

Muchansanya pong trai or chomnoich

Beyyal or luak
() or () or ()


() put above joined consonants

Vongkrachok chrong or tongkiep
([ ])

(( ))

Sahasanya or kutiphong
(-) To indicate joining of word segments together Example: (in word)

Vilarabeuk (open) Vilarabit (close)
(" ")

Aponyreabeuk (open) Aponyreabit (close)
(<< >>)

Single angled line
(/) Ex: 1 ton/1 hectare (Ex: 1 T./1 H.)

Two angled lines

Komnuas srobkhveng


C.2-Other different signs used in an international manner and in various technical fields include: (.) (,) (;) (:) ? ! = < > / , , ->, <-, <->, =>, ~


Technicians might investigate the possibility of using international signs in technical sciences, in order to match various commonly used standards.

2-Sorting Khmer characters in alphabetic order:

A- Consonants taken in the order written in part 1 above, A.1. Subscript consonants taken in the order written under 2A.2.

In written Khmer, they observe the use of words that group by:

-Consonant characters and first level subscript consonant character. Example:

(page 4)

-Subscript consonant underlain by a second level subscript consonant. Example:

-Subscript consonant underlain by a second level subscript consonant together with a dependent vowel. Example:

-Consonant joined to a subscript consonant together with an independent vowel.

Example: (Sanskrit word Khmers used - Chhuan Nath dictionary page 1280)

-Consonant above a subscript consonant together with dependent vowel and sign.


B-Order of vowels:

Independent vowels are situated before independent vowels according to order as given in sections 1B.1 and B.2.

C-Order of signs:

In the Khmer language there is no rule that requires ordering signs in any specific order. This being the case, technicians may put them in any order that facilitates their use in that technology.


With regard to signs !? they must be written even on a line with other characters.

It is not necessary to use the sign `chhnual' by itself as it is already incorporated in with <<>> and <<>> already. With regard to the riel currency-combined with comma sign, it is not necessary to have this compound glyph because the riel sign could be with a comma underneath. One other matter, in order to facilitate the technology they should write the dependent vowel together with consonant from the left to the right.


We hope that the production of these two lists of consonants, vowels, and signs despite its deficiencies as a beginning contribution will help facilitate the work of technicians to put Khmer into Unicode/computer.

Please accept my sincere respects.

Head of Operations, National Higher Education Task Force

Dr. Bit Seang Lim