1.2 Formal Conversation

1. Reading

Read the conversation between Thida (A) and Visak (B) and then highlight words/expressions in the conversation where you think they are indicating the formal and polite languages.

2. Listening

After reading, listen to the conversation and answer the following questions.

Do you know?

Greeting in Cambodia

The formal and respectful way to say hello in Cambodia is Jom-riap-sua”, with the salute gesture sampeah (clasping your hands together in a lotus bud form, as if in praying and bowing your head). Where you place the sampeah in front of your body depends on the age and relationship of the person you are greeting. The higher your sampeah, and the lower your bow, the more respect you are showing.


3. Reading

Read another conversation between a student (A) and a teacher (B) and fill in the blanks using the formal and polite languages.


[1] The formal and polite greeting in Khmer is “Jom-riab-sua”. “Sua-sdey” is informal, and is reserved for casual situations; it is equivalent to the English word “Hello”. “Jom-riab-lia” is also the formal good-bye.

[2] Title nouns such as “Look” (Sir, Mr., you for male speaker) and “Look-srey” (Madam, Mrs., you for female) can be used as pronouns to denote formality and politeness.

[3] Baat (for male speakers) and  Jaa (for female speaker) are the terms for the English word “Yes”. When the word “Baat” or “Jaa”  precedes the sentence, it denotes the politeness; for example, Jaa/Baat, jom-riab-lia, look. = Goodbye, Sir.


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Basic Khmer Copyright © 2022 by Vathanak Sok is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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