1.3 The First 16 Consonants

Cambodian has 44 consonants including 33 regular symbols and 11 others modified by diacritics. In this chapter, we are focusing on the first 16 consonants. We will be discussing the other regular symbols and the 11 consonants modified by diacritics in the future chapters, and then we will move onto the vowels symbols.

The First 16 Consonants


Use the audio and Table 1 below to learn how to pronounce the consonants.​

Table 1
Consonant English
1. neck
2. to cheat
3. dock
4. to carry a baby
5. to lie
6. to try something on
7. to be happy, glad, joyful.
8. kind of thick stew
9. mute
10. the Year of Dog
11. white
12. baking oven
13. sulky
14. ឈ(រ) to stand
15. to connect
16. gutter

1. Speaking

Record yourself reading each consonant out loud and share it with your friends/teacher for further feedback.

2. Reading

Read through the consonants in Table 2 and decide whether each consonant corresponds with the translation in English. Then check your answers against the Table 1.

Table 2
Consonant  English Consonant  English
gutter to lie
white dock
the Year of Dog to cheat
to stand mute
to connect sulky
to try something on ឈ(រ) to carry a baby
to be happy, glad, joyful. baking oven
kind of thick stew neck

3. Writing

Download the worksheet below to practice writing consonants by following the directional arrows.

Worksheet 1

4. Reading

Read the first 16 consonants​ again. Please read the consonants that are highlighted in blue only, we will discuss the rest of the consonants in the next chapter. (List of highlighted consonants: ក, ខ, គ,ង,ច,ឆ,ឈ,ដ,ត,ទ, ព, ភ, ល,ស,ឡ, អ.)

Consonants and phonetic transcriptions

Table 3
1. Velars ក​ (kɔɔ)

(khɔɔ) (koo) (khoo) (ngoo)
2. Palatals (jɔɔ) (chɔɔ) (choo) ជ (joo) (nhoo)
3. Retroflexes  ​​​​ (dɔɔ) (tɔɔ) (doo) ឍ​​ (thoo) (nɔɔ)
4. Dentals  (ɔɔ) ថ (tɔɔ) (dtoo) (thoo) (noo)
5. Labials (bɔɔ) (pɔɔ) (bpoo) (phoo) (moo)
6. Miscellaneous


















5. Dictation

Please listen carefully and write what you hear. Note that you need to install Khmer fonts in order to complete this exercise.



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