Sometimes it becomes almost impossible for a beginner language learner to move on with lessons and find the right resource. And since you are here, I am guessing you are facing the same issue. However, you no longer have to worry. If you ask me how I became a fluent Khmer speaker in just a few months, Khmer sayings and proverbs will come first on the list.
So, I have prepared this blog filled with content from old Khmer proverbs that teach essential life lessons to common sayings in the Khmer language pertaining to my own experience. Learning some Khmer proverbs like កុំឱ្យបុរសខឹងលាងចាន។ កុំអោយបុរសឃ្លានបាយ– “Don’t let an angry man wash dishes; don’t let a hungry man guard rice,” អ្នកមិនចាំបាច់កាប់ដើមឈើដើម្បីបានផ្លែនោះទេ។– “You don’t have to cut a tree down to get at the fruit,” etc., will give you a great insight into the teachings and beliefs of the Khmer people and also give you a specific language speaking practice. Hence, you improve your skills along with the knowledge of Khmer culture. If you want to learn more, continue reading!
Importance Of Khmer Old Sayings
What are proverbs, and why are they important? If you really want to take your Khmer skills to a higher level, you first need to understand and learn what Khmer sayings actually are.
Proverbs, in the simplest terms, are understood as wise groups of words that carry meaning and advice related to life. In many cultures, they are considered gems of wisdom, and Khmer culture is one of them, nurturing the Khmer’s old sayings since the time of dawn.
The ancient Khmer sayings teach life lessons that everyone can relate to in some way at some level. They are words that speak the truth that cannot be conveyed otherwise in a usual verbal way.
A Khmer proverb is not just territorially bound. Although old sayings accumulate the wisdom of Khmer culture and their tradition, the hidden meaning can take you to a global span of understanding that will enlighten you with exceptional thoughts. From teaching children to advising in times of sorrow, a proverb widely plays a binding role that even the modern world cannot forget.
So, to truly understand the Khmer locality and their language, you must go through some of the mundane sayings that will help you improve your skills and give you a lesson you have never received before.
Basic Khmer Proverbs You Must Know
Coming to the main part, we will now go through some of the many Khmer sayings with proper English translation and meaning. Make sure you learn their significance thoroughly and understand the deeper essence rather than just memorizing the words. If you are curious, let’s get started right away!
1. A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing – ចំណេះដឹងតិចតួចគឺជារឿងគ្រោះថ្នាក់
One of the most common cambodian proverbs that you must know is ចំណេះដឹងតិចតួចគឺជារឿងគ្រោះថ្នាក់. Pronounced as chamnehdoeng techtuoch kuchea rueng krohthnak, it is a widely accepted saying that rules not only in Cambodia but in the societies of the entire world.
It says a small amount of knowledge or lack of accurate information can mislead people into thinking they are superior to others. Thus, one should always be aware of the actual matter first before acting on it.
2. A Rotten Apple Injures Its Companions – ផ្លែប៉ោមរលួយមួយធ្វើឱ្យដៃគូរបស់វារងរបួស
Another very important saying ផ្លែប៉ោមរលួយមួយធ្វើឱ្យដៃគូរបស់វារងរបួស, pronounced as phle baom rluoy muoy thveu aoy daikou robsa vea rng rbuos, is quite populer in Phnom penh. This phrase encourages people in the Cambodian culture not to wind up with bad people. In simplest terms, it says that a single rotten apple can make the entire basket go bad. So, a poor or bad quality of a person can negatively influence the whole group.
3. Let Your Parents Eat While Their Throat Is Still Standing – ឱ្យឪពុកម្តាយរបស់អ្នកញ៉ាំខណៈពេលដែលបំពង់ករបស់ពួកគេនៅតែឈរ
In the heart of the locals to the Cambodian origin of practices, the saying ឱ្យឪពុកម្តាយរបស់អ្នកញ៉ាំខណៈពេលដែលបំពង់ករបស់ពួកគេនៅតែឈរ, aoy aupouk mteay robsa anak nhoam khn pel del bampngk robsa puokke nowte chhor, still remains one of the wisest sayings that explains the importance of family.
It says you should take care of your parents as long as possible because they won’t be with you forever. Such a thought is critical in today’s world, where children’s and parents’ spirits get divided at a certain age.
4. You May Know A Lot, But Also Respect Other’s Knowledge – អ្នកប្រហែលជាដឹងច្រើន ប៉ុន្តែក៏គោរពចំណេះដឹងរបស់អ្នកដទៃផងដែរ។
The pronunciation of the above phrase goes like anak brahelcha doeng chraen bonte ka korp chamnehdoeng robsa anakadtei phng der. It is another famous saying that attracts meaning worldwide. “Respect other’s knowledge” meaning refers that while you may know a lot, there is always a possibility that the other person may know more. So, keeping your ears open is always essential.
5. Do Good, Get Good. Do Bad, Get Bad – ធ្វើល្អ ទទួលបានល្អ។ ធ្វើអាក្រក់បានអាក្រក់
Coming to a very simple yet meaningful phrase that says ធ្វើល្អ ទទួលបានល្អ។ ធ្វើអាក្រក់បានអាក្រក់- thveula ttuol ban la . thveu akrak ban akrak. As you can already interpret, it means you get what you give. If you treat others the way you want to be treated, you will get the right results. But you are only delusional if you treat people wrong and expect them to treat you nicely. So, you must do good to receive good from others.
6. Don’t Trust The Sky, Don’t Trust The Stars – កុំទុកចិត្តមេឃ កុំទុកចិត្តផ្កាយ
In this world of fallacies and fraudulence, we often say that we shouldn’t trust someone blindly. Expressing the same sentiment, the phrase កុំទុកចិត្តមេឃ កុំទុកចិត្តផ្កាយ- Kom tuk chet mek, kom tuk chet pkay says that you should never trust someone entirely and blindly. That means, even when the sky looks like it is about to rain, never trust it with your whole heart. You never know when uncertainties will hit you.
7. The Immature Rice Stalk Stands Erect, While The Mature Stalk, Heavy With Grain, Bends Over- ដើមស្រូវដែលមិនទាន់ពេញវ័យឈរត្រង់ រីឯដើមចាស់ទុំមានទម្ងន់ធ្ងន់នឹងគ្រាប់ធញ្ញជាតិ
One of the most traditional sayings of Cambodia, daem srauv del mintean penhvy chhr trang rie daem chasatoum mean tomngon thngon nung kreab thonhnhocheate, refers to the respect that we should give to our elders. By the terms bend over and mature stalk, we refer to the hunchback elders who are much more wise than us.
And indeed, it is seen in Cambodia that people respect elders in a way no other countries do. They madly believe in giving respect and love to the elderly citizens who almost lose their identity in this ever-growing western world.
8. The Boat Sails By, The Shore Remains – ទូកបើកកាត់ច្រាំង
One of the most epic and wisest of all, ទូកបើកកាត់ច្រាំង- touk baek kat chrang, says that one must work hard and do good things to become a person who is praised and respected by all. That means your good identity and dignity will remain at the shore even when your boat leaves, meaning when you die or leave this earth. It is one of the best lessons that a native Khmer speaker inherits to discipline children and make them understand the nature of life.
Other Khmer Sayings To Try Out
Other than the phrases we studied above, there are a lot more that you can go through. Thus, to give your more Khmer sayings, this section will briefly take us on a proverb ride with only the translations and pronunciation. Buckle up!
|Don’t let an angry man wash dishes; don’t let a hungry man guard rice||កុំឱ្យបុរសខឹងលាងចាន; កុំឲ្យបុរសស្រេកឃ្លានបាយ||komaoy borsa khoeng leangchan; kom aoy borsa srek khlean bay|
|Don’t reject the crooked road and don’t take the straight one, instead take the one traveled by the ancestors||កុំបដិសេធផ្លូវកោងហើយកុំប្រកាន់យកផ្លូវដែលដូនតាធ្វើដំណើរជំនួសវិញ||kom bdeseth phlauv kaong haey kom brakean yk phlauv del daunta thveu damnaer chomnuosa vinh|
|A husband should not talk about pretty girls in front of his wife||ប្តីមិនគួរនិយាយរឿងស្រីស្អាតនៅមុខប្រពន្ធទេ។||btei min kuor niyeay rueng srei saat nowmoukh braponth te|
|Negotiate a river by following its bends, enter a country by following its customs||ចរចាទន្លេដោយដើរតាមផ្លូវកោង ចូលប្រទេសដោយធ្វើតាមទំនៀមទម្លាប់របស់ខ្លួន||charcha tonle daoy daer tam phlauv kaong chaul bratesa daoy thveu tam tomniem tomleab robsa khluon|
|With water make rivers, with rice make armies||ទឹកធ្វើទន្លេ ស្រូវធ្វើទ័ព||tuk thveu tonle srauv thveu tp|
|You don’t have to cut a tree down to get at the fruit||អ្នកមិនចាំបាច់កាប់ដើមឈើដើម្បីបានផ្លែទេ។||anak min cha bach kab daem chheu daembi ban phle te|
|Cultivate a heart of love that knows no anger||បណ្ដុះចិត្តស្រឡាញ់ដែលមិនចេះខឹង||bandoh chett sraleanh del min cheh khoeng|
|You can’t claim heaven as your own if you are just going to sit under it||អ្នកមិនអាចទាមទារស្ថានសួគ៌ជារបស់អ្នកបានទេប្រសិនបើអ្នកគ្រាន់តែអង្គុយនៅក្រោមវា។||anak min ach teamtear sthansuokr chea robsa anak ban te brasen bae anak krean te angkouy now kraom vea|
|Don’t let women who attract attention walk behind you||កុំឱ្យស្ត្រីដែលទាក់ទាញការចាប់អារម្មណ៍ដើរពីក្រោយអ្នក។||komaoy strei del teakteanh karchabarommo daerpikraoy anak|
|Don’t take rich people as examples||កុំយកអ្នកមានធ្វើជាគំរូ||kom yk anak mean thveuchea koumrou|
|If you are patient in a moment of anger, you will spare yourself one hundred days of tears||បើអ្នកអត់ធ្មត់ក្នុងពេលខឹងមួយភ្លែត អ្នកនឹងស្រក់ទឹកភ្នែកមួយរយថ្ងៃ||bae anak atthmot knong pel khoeng muoy phlet anak nung srak tuk phnek muoy ry thngai|
|The tiger depends on the forest; the forest depends on the tiger.||ខ្លាអាស្រ័យលើព្រៃ; ព្រៃពឹងផ្អែកលើខ្លា||khla asry leu prei; prei pungophaek leu khla|
|Don’t shoot people you hate; don’t lend to those you love||កុំបាញ់មនុស្សដែលអ្នកស្អប់; កុំខ្ចីអ្នកដែលអ្នកស្រលាញ់||kom banh mnoussa del anak saab; kom khchei anak del anak sralanh|
|Stealing may bring profit, but hanging costs far more||ការលួចអាចនាំមកនូវប្រាក់ចំណេញ ប៉ុន្តែការព្យួរត្រូវចំណាយប្រាក់ច្រើនជាង||kar luoch ach nea mk nouv brak chamnenh bonte kar pyuor trauv chamnay brak chraen cheang|
|One mountain never has two tigers||ភ្នំមួយមិនដែលមានខ្លាពីរទេ។||phnom muoy min del mean khla pir te|
Now you know all the crucial sayings in the Khmer language. I’m pretty sure learning this group of words has improved your language skills and enlightened you with eye-opening life lessons that the locals commonly follow in Cambodia. So, if you plan to travel to Cambodia anytime soon, use all these phrases while conversing with your Khmer friends and surprise them with your knowledge. With such mastery, you will undoubtedly make more friends and impress the elder’s in the country.
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