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Colloquial Cambodian: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series (Book Only))

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415100069
ISBN-10: 0415100062
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Product Details

  • Series: Colloquial Series
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (March 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415100062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415100069
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #656,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Let's start with the positive. The CD is great. The material is practical, the pronunciations are clear, and listening to it will definitely help any student of the Khmer language. Now for the book. Although Smyth does sort of apologize for his system of transcribing the spoken language, no justification can be made for this perverse, ugly, and misleading representation of Khmer. Smyth claims that use of phonetic symbols would require too much sophistication on the part of the average user, and I agree that the level of phonetic detail would be difficult. Besides, no two linguists use the same system (mea culpa, here). However, Smyth commits a crime against the language by splitting single syllable words into two, breaking up sounds and creating a written form that looks totally alien. The real reason for the mess is an attempt to match the spoken language to the written form. This is very hard, since the written form of the language represents the spoken language hundreds of years ago. Put simply, Khmer used to have a "b" and a "p". It lost that distinction, so that the difference "moved" to the following vowel. baa and paa become paa and pie (PEE-EH). His solution is to write "bp" and "p", but in the modern language they are the same sound. In trying to avoid the historical complexity of the writing system, a monstrous alphabetic stew is created. He writes the letter "r" at the end of words, but that's just because of the writing system. It is never pronounced in Cambodian Khmer (some dialects in Thailand have it). In sum, he tried a new solution to an old problem, and failed. It is just too much of misrepresentation, and makes learning difficult. The material is otherwise good, though the grammatical sketch is a bit too westernized.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Tha roman-alphabet renderings of the Khmer words is misleading, but for most aspects of the course only good things can be said. The exercises are well-chosen and paced in a way that makes learning Khmer about as painless as it can be, which is still pretty painful.
This book supposes no prior knowledge of Khmer. The other Khmer book I have seen, by Huffman, is very technical and seems to suppose a level of training in structural linguistics and phonetics that is beyond what most people have.
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Format: Audio Cassette
This package is probably as good as it gets for a broadbrush presentation of Khmer. Those with several languages behind them realize that for most people it takes two thousand hours or so of study to develop a working foundation in most languages. Khmer may seem intimidating in the initial stages, but it really is an achievable goal for those who have a deep interest in the country and its people. Try "Colloquial Cambodian" on for size, and if you become infected with the Cambodia bug you can always order the full Foreign Service Institute course and pursue Khmer to the hilt. A new language gives you a new life, a new identity. A good investment! Even if you just master the material presented in Colloquial Cambodian, you'll come away with more than many official Americans assigned to the country in recent years did.
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Format: Audio CD
It's an excellent book for beginners. The tapes done very well using native speakers of Khmer. The English speakers have a distinctly British accent. The book uses it's own system of romanisation that is easy to learn. It covers the language basics one would need to suvive in Cambodia. The book also focuses somewhat on Cambodian culture and the Holocaust. It would be a good book for Cambodian Americans who wish to learn Cambodian Script. I would not recomend it for more advanced speakers of Khmer.
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By A Customer on July 19, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Considering the lack of good Cambodian language learning materials, I am very satisfied with the book by D. Smyth which includes the two CD's. It is user friendly and immediately engages the learner in conversation and immediately starts to teach you the Cambodian alphabet. This is good because the Romanization system used in the book is very crude at best and at times could be very misleading. Rely on the recordings and your Cambodian friend/teacher, not the Romanization for pronunciation. (The author warns you to do this). In my 1996 edition there are several printing errors in both English and Cambodian, I assume the 1997 edition has these corrected. I wish the CD's contained readings of the new words in isolation as well as in context, as it is sometimes difficult to learn correct pronunciation of a "strange" sounding new word when you just hear it once in a text reading. This is especially a potential problem in the "Cambodian Voices" section and the "Additinal Readings" section. Overall, the course is very good.
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By A Customer on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I think the course could do with a bit more focus on grammatical detail, in particular the use of verbs - a final 'dtou' comes as a frequent puzzling surprise, and in conjunction with verbs like 'jea' you end up really needing a dictionary. Having said that, this enjoyable course could hardly have prepared me better for my trip to Cambodia. They said I spoke clearly, and were pleased. For further study I can really recommend Judith Jacob's book, and also her dictionary. Huffman's English-Khmer dictionary seems to me to be by far the best.
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Colloquial Cambodian: The Complete Course for Beginners (Colloquial Series (Book Only))
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