By Soy Sophea
Cambodian national language experts are trying to upgrade the Khmer dictionary by adding more new technical terms and providing additional explanations and definitions for words already published in the well-known Khmer Dictionary, written by Buddhist Patriarch Samdech Choun Narth.
The upgraded dictionary will be used officially throughout the country when the project is completed, say officials and specialists.
Iv Chan, Director of the National Language Singular, said that a new combined Khmer dictionary is now under progress.
Chan said that the latest development of the Khmer dictionary retains the spirit of the original Khmer Dictionary, translated from Pali and Sanskrit by the well-known Buddhist Patriarch Choun Narth.
He said that at least 20, 000 new words will be added to the 20,000 words the Khmer Dictionary already contains. Being inspired by the Patriarch Samdech Choun Narth, the original words remain sacrosanct.
The Director hoped the new Khmer Dictionary would provide an even more serviceable resource for scholars, both national and international, of the original Khmer Mon as spoken in South-east Asia.
“We believe that the dictionary will be recognized throughout Cambodia,” Chan said.
He added that a joint committee has been established, that includes a range of 40 specialists, some of them monks, in the field of Cambodian Culture. Their task is to ensure the Khmerization of any words that may be introduced to the Dictionary. In this way, the living Khmer language will develop in response to changing conditions, but not at the expense of dilution by the introduction of too many alien words.
Lok Akak Bandith Buth Savong, famous throughout the nation for teaching Dharma, and a natural choice for committee membership, said that the Dictionary will provide an excellent record of Cambodian linguistic culture. He said his role in the committee was to examine the influence of Pali and Sanskrit in the development of the Khmer language.
“I am happy to share my Pali and Sanskrit knowledge to ensure the future of the Khmer language,” Buth Savong said. “My heart swelled with pride when I was asked to join the committee.”
He also mentioned that he thought an official set of joint dictionaries, Khmer into English and English into Khmer for instance would be a good idea as it would encourage international understanding and appreciation of the beauties of the language.
Sen David, a student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said that she was very happy to hear that a new joint Khmer dictionary was under consideration. She said that as things stood, she found difficulty expressing the specialist English language jargon and concepts in a language that all Cambodians could understand. “I find it very hard to translate law terms expressed in English into Khmer. Of course, I refer to a Khmer-English dictionary, but I am not quite sure if these terms are nationally recognized terms or not.”
Sam Oeun, 49, a teacher at Bak Tuok Primary School, also voiced concern over the misuse of the Khmer Language in promotional banners for public reading. “I have seen many written mistakes in Khmer, placed on those banners, but no one seems to care about it,” she said.
Oeun, a veteran teacher of 25 years service, said that it was good to hear about the new Khmer Dictionary, replete with a collection of new technical words. She said she was looking forward to it and would take great pleasure greeting original words like old friends. She was also anticipating the newer words, taking their measure and integrating them seamlessly into her Khmer communications.
The Khmer Language Singular Director Iv Chan said that the new dictionary is scheduled for completion within three years.
However, he said that three years might possibly be insufficient and that deadlines may have to be moved back. He compared himself to his illustrious predecessor, Choun Narth and his Khmer Dictionary, which took 22 years to publish. “I think that the three-year production schedule will be challenging.”