Counting in Cambodian


Counting in Cambodian

Khmer has the particularity of using a bi-quinary counting system (base 5 and 10), which makes it easier for visitors to pick up. For a quick start, you only need to learn numbers from 0 to 5 and multiples of 10. That’s only 16 Khmer words to be able to count to 1000!

Numbers from 6 to 9 are just combinations of numbers from 0 to 5. For example, instead of saying 6, you say “5 and 1”. Seven becomes “5 and 2” and so forth.

If you speak Hokkien or Cantonese, you’ll notice that multiple of tens from 20 to 90 sound very similar to your own dialects. Those fluent in Pali and Sanskrit may also find some familiar sounds.

  • Cambodians count in increments of five. After you reach the number 5 (phrum), you just then add one to five (phrum muy for 6) and so on. When you reach 10 (dop) , the cycle begins again by adding one (dop muy for 11).
  • You will also often encounter some Khmers who reverses the orders of the numbers especially for numbers between 10-20 and they usually insert dun between the numbers. Example, for 12 – instead of saying dop pii, they usually say pii dun dop.
  • Khmers usually also use shortcuts like instead of saying ‘muuy roy‘ for 1,000 they would say ‘ma’puan‘..
  • The trick is to listen well. If you simply don’t get it, you can ask them to speak slowly, say ‘Sohm, niyeay yeut yeut..’
  • 1  –   muuy
  • 2  –   pii
  • 3  –   bai
  • 4  –   buhn
  • 5  –   phrum
  • 6  –   phrum muuy
  • 7  –   phrum pii
  • 8  –   phrum bai
  • 9  –   phrum buhn
  • 10 – dop
  • 11 – dop muuy
  • 15 – dop phrum
  • 16 – dop phrum muuy
  • 20 – m’pai
  • 21 – mpai muuy
  • 30 – saam-suhp
  • 40 – sai-suhp
  • 50 – haa-suhp
  • 60 – hok-suhp
  • 70 – jeut-suhp
  • 80 – paet-suhp
  • 90 – kau-suhp
  • 100 – muuy roy (* hundreds use ‘roy‘)
  • 101 – muuy roy muuy
  • 200 – pii roy
  • 1000 – muy puan (thousands use ‘puan‘)
  • 1,000,000 – muuy lian (millions use ‘lian‘)

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