samedi, décembre 23, 2006

The Power of the National Language

News From Cambodia N° 0662-E


Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
December 21, 2006

“Aksar rolaot cheat roleay
Aksar ponnareay cheat thlai thla ”

- If letter disappears, the nation disappears
If letter is brilliant, the nation is excellent -

The cultural identity is an anthropological concept which indicates a historic moment during which a community, people recognizes each other by precise values in her practices, her concepts, her thoughts, her faiths, her art etc.

The language of people is a tool in the service of these people to hand on some thought. As for any transmission there is a broadcast function and a reception function : a language allows people to express and to understand each other among themselves. It is a part of our cultural patrimony.

The language of a people is a legacy of more or less remote past. Each word, each expression encloses a load of meaning, feeling bequeathed by the history which is difficult to translate in another language. It is necessary to note it in the translation of the sentence bequeathed by our ancestors, reproduced above. The differences of nuance and sense between the original text and its translation can be understood only by a person who knows perfectly both languages. Moreover this difficulty which made that one says translating is betraying.

Every word of a language has a history, even if the speaker does not know it. The words bequeathed by our ancestors forge the way of thought of people. Certainly the meaning of each word evolves with the society; still it remains always understandable for the constituents of this society. French of Quebec evolved differently from French of France. Accents are not any more the same. Fortunately nowadays the opportunities of the communications in any kinds and human and cultural relations allow easing these divergent evolutions.

The language is the cultural identity's support. The paper or the writing gives a living language in continuance; it is the history's support. The concept of the history was born with the writing. The paper is thus the base of our cultural identity, the base of our cultural unity.

To protect her culture and her identity, a nation owes to value her language. The language of people is her most precious patrimony. Losing her language is losing the whole identity, her past then deforms her history until incomprehensible.

Our fellow countrymen in Cambodia well understood this importance of our written language. The first “Dictionary of the Ancient Khmer” (translated into contemporary Cambodian language) was published in 2000 by Professor Long Seam, financed by the Foundation Toyota of Japan. It is desirable that Cambodians who want to the sources of our language and our writing acquires this Dictionary. It costs only 25 US dollars. They can then compare the old writing and the language of our ancestors (VIth century) with the writing and the language of nowadays. It is this language and this writing, which protected until nowadays our national cultural identity.

Also let us memorize that thanks to regretted Ingrid Muan, an American of Swedish origin, Cambodia has now modern printing offices. Books, magazines, newspapers and other papers in good quality national language are now available in prosperous bookshops.

We reproduce below two articles published in Cambodge Soir of December 21st, 2006.

« ‘Les ordinateurs savent parler khmer’ - Computers know how to speak cambodian.
« ‘Avec l’émergence du khmer en informatique, les cracks de la saisie’ » - With the emergence of the cambodian in data processing, the cracks of the input”. (Unofficial translation by Khemara Jati)

There are thus Cambodians who knows well our language, our writing and the data processing who collaborated years to arrive at this extremely mattering result to allow our fellow countrymen to communicate worldwide and also to make easier the input of texts in Cambodian.

Note : Cet article est disponible aussi en français sur demande.

Cambodge Soir
Le 21 décembre 2006
(Traduction non-officielle par Khemara Jati)
Computers know how to speak cambodian
The governmental organization NIDA and the Wordforge foundation launched in 2004 a project intended to allow the not English-speaking Cambodians to use the computer tool in their own language, the Khmer. The first stage of this " Khmer Software Initiative » ( KhmerOS) consisted in integrating the Khmer into the system unicode, an international standard of codification of the characters (types), useful on most of the platforms and the navigators Web, after a fast and simple installation. Standard Khmer keyboards, worked out by the DIDA, began to be distributed in the administrations and are henceforth available in the business.
KhmerOS also developed in term of two years a set of computer tools in cambodia language. Then OpenOffice 2.0, including office software (with the function similar to those Word, Excel, Access and Power Point of the Pack Office of Microsoft), was adapted in its entirety in Khmer. From free source (and thus exploitable and modifiable at leisure), it presents a great advantage: it is free! Also, the other software, such an administrator of forwarding messenger, Moyoura, and a navigator Web, Mekhala, were developed in Khmer and are gracefully given to Internet users.
Information and downloading free on

Cambodge Soir
Le 21 décembre 2006
(Unofficial translation made by Khemara Jati)
With The Emergence Of The Cambodian In Data Processing, The Cracks Of The Input
Tuon Samân types fast and without smudge, and even won a price for it. This young professor, who teaches the data processing in an orphanage of the NGO ASPECA at Sihanoukville, was crowned as the fastest man of Cambodia, on Monday, at the finale of the very first national competition of inputting texts in Khmer Unicode and the creation of office documents with Khmer language software.
After a first series of tests organized for four weeks in seventeen provinces, in which about 1 000 participators, 37 competitors were selected and were in confrontation in Phnom Penh in finale, on Monday, in front of computer screens. The purpose of the competition: to type as quickly as possible a text in Khmer Unicode then to save as fast as possible an office automation document model by using the continuation of free software of right and in Khmer language OpenOffice.
Five prize-winners showed all their dexterity. The champion, Tuon Samân, works for Aspeca since 2000, since the opening of the first computer workshops in this NGO for child's assistance. He is a secretary of the school of formative of this association, which manages up to now, for the same numerous activities, 15 computer workshops in which participating by about 400 pupils.
Proof that in this domain the value does not wait for the number of the years [in school], for the vice-champion of this competition, Eng Titya, student of the high school Net Yang of Battambang, is only twelve years old. The following three prices were awarded to two students of the royal University of Phnom Penh (URPP) and to a student of Kompong Cham.
Organized under the leadership of the national Authority for the development of information technologies and communication (NIDA), assisted by the foundation Wordforge (an organization of the “threatened languages numerically's defence”) and with the support of InWent (a German company specialized in the international cooperation), this demonstration especially had the merit to prove that using a computer in Khmer language is not henceforth any more a puzzle reserved for the only ones “nerds” (young people booged by data processing). Tools developed within the framework of the KhmerOS project allow henceforth any khmerspeaking (khmerophone) user to do the office automation or to navigate Internet without any language other than khmer. « With tools developed by KhmerOS, one is not compulsory any more to manage english, underlines Jean-Yves Fusil, coordinator of the Aspeca computer workshops. In the beginning, students of our workshops began the courses at the age of 14ans. Today, children begin to learn to use a computer at about 10 years. » A children's game!
Laurent Le Gouanvic

Published by Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
December 21th, 2006