# Khmer numerals

The number 605 in Khmer numerals, from the Sambor inscriptions in 683 AD. The earliest known material use of zero as a decimal figure.[1]

Written Khmer numerals date back to at least the oldest known epigraphical inscription of the Khmer numerals in 604 AD, found on a stele in Prasat Bayang, Cambodia, located not far from Angkor Borei.[2][3]

## Numerals

The Khmer numerals depicted in four different typographical variants.

Having been derived from the Hindu numerals, modern Khmer numerals also represent a decimal positional notation system. It is the script with the first extant material evidence of zero as a numerical figure, dating its use back to the seventh century, two centuries before its certain use in India.[2][4] However, Old Khmer, or Angkorian Khmer, also possessed separate symbols for the numbers 10, 20, and 100. Each multiple of 20 or 100 would require an additional stroke over the character, so the number 47 was constructed using the 20 symbol with an additional upper stroke, followed by the symbol for number 7.[5] This inconsistency with its decimal system suggests that spoken Angkorian Khmer used a vigesimal system.

As both Thai and Lao script are derived from Old Khmer,[6] their modern forms still bear many resemblances to the latter, demonstrated in the table below:

Value Khmer Thai Lao
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

## Modern Khmer numbers

The spoken names of modern Khmer numbers represent a biquinary system, with both base 5 and base 10 in use. For example, 6 (ប្រាំមួយ) is formed from 5 (ប្រាំ) plus 1 (មួយ).

### Numbers from 0–5

For the most part, the etymology of the Khmer numbers from 1 to 5 are derived directly from proto-Mon–Khmer.

Value Khmer Word Form IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Other Notes
0 សូន្យ sony sūny soun From Sanskrit śūnya
1 មួយ muŏy muay mouy Before a classifier, /muəj/ is reduced to /mə/ in regular speech.[7]
2 ពីរ () pir bīr pii Also
3 បី bei bei
4 បួន buŏn puan buon
5 ប្រាំ prăm prâṃ pram
• Some authors may alternatively mark as the pronunciation for the word two, and either or for the word three.
• In neighbouring Thailand the number three is thought to bring good luck.[8] However, in Cambodia, taking a picture with three people in it is considered bad luck, as it is believed that the person situated in the middle will die an early death.[9][10]
• Note: As the UNGEGN romanization system is based on the 1972 BGN/PCGN system with little to no difference in spelling, the former will be used alongside the ALA-LC romanization system throughout this article.

### Numbers from 6–20

As mentioned above, the numbers from 6 to 9 may be constructed by adding any number between 1 to 4 to the base number 5 (ប្រាំ), so that 7 is literally constructed as 5 plus 2. Beyond that, Khmer uses a decimal base, so that 14 is constructed as 10 plus 4, rather than 2 times 5 plus 4; and 16 is constructed as 10+5+1.

Colloquially, compound numbers from eleven to nineteen may be formed using the word ដណ្ដប់ preceded by any number from one to nine, so that 15 is constructed as ប្រាំដណ្ដប់ , instead of the standard ដប់ប្រាំ .[11]

Value Khmer Word Form IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Other Notes
6 ប្រាំមួយ prăm muŏy prâṃ muay pram muoy
7 ប្រាំពីរ () prăm pir prâṃ bīr pram pii
8 ប្រាំបី prăm bey prâṃ pī pram bei
9 ប្រាំបួន prăm buŏn prâṃ puan pram buon
10 ១០ ដប់ dáb ṭáp dap Old Chinese *.[12]
11 ១១ ដប់មួយ dáb muŏy ṭáp muay dap muoy Colloquially មួយដណ្ដប់ .
20 ២០ ម្ភៃ (, ) mphey mbhai mpei Contraction of + (i.e. one + twenty)
• In constructions from 6-9 that use 5 as a base, may alternatively be pronounced ; giving , , , and . This is especially true in dialects which elide , but not necessarily restricted to them, as the pattern also follows Khmer's minor syllable pattern.

### Numbers from 30–90

The numbers from thirty to ninety in Khmer bear many resemblances to both the modern Thai and Cantonese numbers. It is likely that Khmer has borrowed them from the Thai language, as the numbers are both non-productive in Khmer (i.e. their use is restricted and cannot be used outside 30 to 90) and bear a near one-to-one phonological correspondence as can be observed in the language comparisons table below.

Informally, a speaker may choose to omit the final and the number is still understood. For example, it is possible to say (ប៉ែតមួយ) instead of the full (ប៉ែតសិបមួយ).

Value Khmer Word Form IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Other Notes
30 ៣០ សាមសិប sam sĕb sām sip sam sep
40 ៤០ សែសិប sê sĕb sae sip sae sep
50 ៥០ ហាសិប ha sĕb hā sip ha sep
60 ៦០ ហុកសិប hŏk sĕb huk sip hok sep
70 ៧០ ចិតសិប chĕt sĕb cit sip chet sep
80 ៨០ ប៉ែតសិប pêt sĕb p″ait sip paet sep
90 ៩០ កៅសិប kau sĕb kau sip kao sep

Language Comparisons:

Value Khmer Thai Archaic Thai Lao Cantonese Teochew Min Nan Mandarin
3 ‒ sam sǎam sãam saam1 1 sa1 (sam1) sān
4 ‒ si sài sii sei3 si3 si3 (su3)
5 ‒ ha ngùa hàa ng5 ŋou6 go2 (ngo2)
6 ‒ hok lòk hók luk6 lak8 lak2 (liok8) liù
7 ‒ chet jèd jét cat1 tsʰik4 chit2
8 ‒ paet pàed pàet baat3 poiʔ4 pueh4 (pat4)
9 ‒ kao jao kâo gau2 kao2 kau4 (kiu2) jiǔ
10 ‒ sip jǒng síp sap6 tsap8 tzhap2 (sip8) shí
• Words in parenthesis indicate literary pronunciations, while words preceded with an asterisk mark are non-productive (i.e. only occur in specific constructions, but cannot be decomposed to form basic numbers).

### Numbers from 100–10,000,000

The standard Khmer numbers starting from one hundred are as follows:

Value Khmer Word Form IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Other Notes[13]
100 ១០០ មួយរយ (, ) muŏy rôy muay ray muoy roy Borrowed from Thai ร้อย roi.
1 000 ១០០០ មួយពាន់ muŏy peăn muay bân muoy poan From Thai พัน phan.
10 000 ១០០០០ មួយម៉ឺន muŏy mœŭn muay muȳn muoy muen From Thai หมื่น muen.
100 000 ១០០០០០ មួយសែន muŏy sên muay s″ain muoy saen From Thai แสน saen.
1 000 000 ១០០០០០០ មួយលាន muŏy leăn muay lân muoy lean From Thai ล้าน lan.
10 000 000 ១០០០០០០០ មួយកោដិ muŏy kaôdĕ muay koṭi muoy kaot From Sanskrit and Pali koṭi.

Although មួយកោដិ is most commonly used to mean ten million, in some areas this is also colloquially used to refer to one billion (which is more properly មួយរយកោដិ). In order to avoid confusion, sometimes មួយដប់លាន is used to mean ten million, along with មួយរយលាន for one hundred million, and មួយពាន់លាន ("one thousand million") to mean one billion.[14]

Different Cambodian dialects may also employ different base number constructions to form greater numbers above one thousand. A few of the such can be observed in the following table:

Value Khmer Word Form[14][15] IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Notes
10 000 ១០០០០ (មួយ)ដប់ពាន់ (muŏy) dáb peăn (muay) ṭáp bân Literally "(one) ten thousand"
100 000 ១០០០០០ (មួយ)ដប់ម៉ឺន (muŏy) dáb mœŭn (muay) ṭáp muȳn Literally "(one) ten ten-thousand"
100 000 ១០០០០០ មួយរយពាន់ muŏy rôy peăn muay ray bân Literally "one hundred thousand"
1 000 000 ១០០០០០០ មួយរយម៉ឺន muŏy rôy mœŭn muay ray muȳn Literally "one hundred ten-thousand"
10 000 000 ១០០០០០០០ (មួយ)ដប់លាន (muŏy) dáb leăn (muay) ṭáp lân Literally "(one) ten million"
100 000 000 ១០០០០០០០០ មួយរយលាន muŏy rôy leăn muay ray lân Literally "one hundred million"
1 000 000 000 ១០០០០០០០០០ មួយពាន់លាន muŏy peăn leăn muay ray bân Literally "one thousand million"

### Counting fruits

Reminiscent of the standard 20-base Angkorian Khmer numbers, the modern Khmer language also possesses separate words used to count fruits, not unlike how English uses words such as a "dozen" for counting items such as eggs.[16]

Value Khmer Word form IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Notes
4 ដំប dâmbâ ṭaṃpa Also written ដំបរ (dâmbâr or ṭaṃpar)
40 ៤០ ផ្លូន phlon phlūn From (pre-)Angkorian *plon "40"
80 ៨០ ពីរផ្លូន pir phlon bir phlūn Literally "two forty"
400 ៤០០ ស្លឹក slœ̆k slẏk From (pre-)Angkorian *slik "400"

### Sanskrit and Pali influence

As a result of prolonged literary influence from both the Sanskrit and Pali languages, Khmer may occasionally use borrowed words for counting. Generally speaking, asides a few exceptions such as the numbers for 0 and 100 for which the Khmer language has no equivalent, they are more often restricted to literary, religious, and historical texts than they are used in day to day conversations. One reason for the decline of these numbers is that a Khmer nationalism movement, which emerged in the 1960s, attempted to remove all words of Sanskrit and Pali origin. The Khmer Rouge also attempted to cleanse the language by removing all words which were considered politically incorrect.[17]

Value Khmer Word form IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Notes
10 ១០ ទស tôs das Sanskrit, Pali dasa
12 ១២ ទ្វាទស
tvéatôs(â) dvādas(a) Sanskrit, Pali dvādasa
13 or 30 ១៣ or ៣០ ត្រីទស trei tôs trǐ das Sanskrit, Pali trayodasa
28 ២៨ អស្តាពីស ’asta pi sâ qastā bǐ sa Sanskrit (8, aṣṭá-) (20, vimsati)
100 ១០០ សត sâtâ sata Sanskrit sata

### Ordinal numbers

Like Thai (ที่ thi) and Vietnamese (thứ from Chinese 第), Khmer ordinal numbers are also formed by placing ទី in front of a cardinal number.[18]

Meaning Khmer IPA UNGEGN ALA-LC Other Notes
First ទីមួយ ti muŏy dī muay ti muoy
Second ទីពីរ ti pir dī bīr ti pii
Third ទីបី ti bei dī pī ti bei

## Angkorian numbers

It is generally assumed that the Angkorian and pre-Angkorian numbers also represented a dual base (quinquavigesimal) system, with both base 5 and base 20 in use. Unlike modern Khmer, the decimal system was highly limited, with both the numbers for ten and one hundred being borrowed from the Chinese and Sanskrit languages respectively. Angkorian Khmer also used Sanskrit numbers for recording dates, sometimes mixing them with Khmer originals, a practice which has persisted until the last century.[19]

The numbers for twenty, forty, and four hundred may be followed by multiplying numbers, with additional digits added on at the end, so that 27 is constructed as twenty-one-seven, or 20×1+7.

Value Khmer Orthography[5] Notes
1 mvay
2 vyar
3 pi
4 pvan
5 pram (7 : pramvyar or pramvyal)
10 ១០ tap Old Chinese *.[12]
20 ២០ bhai
40 ៤០ plon
80 ៨០ bhai pvan Literally "four twenty"
100 ១០០ çata Sanskrit (100, sata).
400 ៤០០ slik

## Proto-Khmer numbers

Proto-Khmer is the hypothetical ancestor of the modern Khmer language bearing various reflexes of the proposed proto-Mon–Khmer language. By comparing both modern Khmer and Angkorian Khmer numbers to those of other Eastern Mon–Khmer (or Khmero-Vietic) languages such as Pearic, Proto-Viet–Muong, Katuic, and Bahnaric; it is possible to establish the following reconstructions for Proto-Khmer.[20]

### Numbers from 5–10

Contrary to later forms of the Khmer numbers, Proto-Khmer possessed a single decimal number system. The numbers from one to five correspond to both the modern Khmer language and the proposed Mon–Khmer language, while the numbers from six to nine do not possess any modern remnants, with the number ten *kraaj (or *kraay) corresponding to the modern number for one hundred. It is likely that the initial *k, found in the numbers from six to ten, is a prefix.[20]

Value Khmer Reconstruction[21][22] Notes
5 *pram
6 *
7 *knuul
8 *ktii Same root as the word hand, *tii.
9 *ksaar
10 ១០ *kraaj Corresponds to present-day (one hundred).

## References

General
1. David Smyth (1995). Colloquial Cambodian: A Complete Language Course. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-415-10006-2 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
2. Huffman, Franklin E.; Charan Promchan and Chhom-Rak Thong Lambert (2008). "Huffman, Modern Spoken Cambodian". Retrieved 2008-03-25.
3. Unknown (2005). Khmer Phrase Book: Everyday Phrases Mini-Dictionary.
4. Smyth, David; Tran Kien (1998). Practical Cambodian Dictionary (2 ed.). Tuttle Language Library/Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 0-8048-1954-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
5. Southeast Asia. Lonely Planet. 2006. ISBN 1-74104-632-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
6. "The original names for the Khmer tens: 30-90". 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
7. "SEAlang Library Khmer Lexicography". Retrieved 2008-12-07.
8. "Veda:Sanskrit Numbers". Retrieved 2008-12-10.
Specific
1. ^ Diller, Anthony (1996). "New Zeros and Old Khmer". Australian National University. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
2. ^ a b Eugene Smith, David; Louis Charles Karpinski (2004). The Hindu-Arabic Numerals. Courier Dover Publications. p. 39. ISBN 0-486-43913-5 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
3. ^ Kumar Sharan, Mahesh (2003). Studies In Sanskrit Inscriptions Of Ancient Cambodia. Abhinav Publications. p. 293. ISBN 81-7017-006-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
4. ^ Diller, Anthony (1996). New zeroes and Old Khmer. Australian National University.
5. ^ a b Jacob, Judith M.; David Smyth. Cambodian Linguistics, Literature and History. Rootledge & University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. pp. 28–37. ISBN 0-7286-0218-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
6. ^ "Khmer/Cambodian alphabet". Omniglot. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
7. ^ Ehrman, Madeline E.; Kem Sos (1972). Contemporary Cambodian: Grammatical Sketch.. Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 18.
8. ^ Asian Superstitions. ADB Magazine. June 2007.
9. ^ "Khmer superstition". 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
10. ^ "Info on Cambodia". 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
11. ^ Huffman, Franklin E. (1992). Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Reader. SEAP Publications. pp. 58–59. ISBN 0-87727-520-3 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
12. ^ a b Gorgoniev, Yu A. (1961). Khmer language. p. 72.
13. ^ Jacob (1993). Notes on the numerals and numeral coefficients in Old, Middle, and Modern Khmer. p. 28.
14. ^ a b "Khmer Numeral System". 2005-06-19. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
15. ^ "Spoken Khmer Number". 2003. Retrieved 2008-12-29.
16. ^ Thomas, David D. (1971). Chrau Grammar (Oceanic Linguistics Special Publications) No.7. University of Hawai'i Press. p. 236.
17. ^ "Khmer: Introduction". National Virtual Translation Center. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
18. ^ "Khmer Cardinal Number". 2003. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
19. ^ Jacob, Judith M. "Mon–Khmer Studies VI: Sanskrit Loanwords in Pre-Angkorian Khmer". School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
20. ^ a b Gvozdanović, Jadranka (1999). Numeral Types and Changes Worldwide. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 263–265. ISBN 3-11-016113-3 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
21. ^ Jenner, Phillip N. (1976). Les noms de nombre en Khmer [The names of numbers in Khmer] (in French) 14 (174). Mouton Publishers. p. 48. doi:10.1515/ling.1976.14.174.39. ISSN 1613-396X.
22. ^ Fisiak, Jacek (1997). Linguistic Reconstruction. Walter de Gruyter. p. 275. ISBN 3-11-014905-2 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].

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