- The Linguistic Society of Japan
- 言語研究 (ISSN:00243914)
- vol.1985, no.88, pp.41-67, 1985-12-25 (Released:2010-11-26)
This paper presents a brief description of Khmer dialects, especially of the phonological and phonetic varieties of some vowels.Transliteration for the modern Khmer orthography is given in section 1. According to its orthography, Khmer consonant letters are divided into two classes, so called ‘voiceless (aghosa)’ and ‘voiced (ghosa)’. On the other hand, each vowel symbol potentially stands for two vowel nuclei, one of which is chosen according to the initial consonant class, and in some cases, to both the initial and the final consonant letters.In section 2 are presented the phonological changes of standard Khmer vowels which are presumed from the orthography. That is, each vowel symbol originally stood for a vowel nucleus; however, the initial ‘voiceless’ and ‘voiced’ contrast exerted an influence on the following vowel nucleus, and later the vowel split into two nuclei (more than two, in some cases, conditioned by the final consonant letters). After that, certain contrasts of initial and final consonants were lost, and finally split vowels obtained the phonological contrast.This assumption, however, is not enough to explain all the phonological phenomena of the Khmer dialects. Section 3 deals with the varieties of modern Khmer dialects. The phonological data were collected by the author mostly in 1984 in Japan, and partly in 1982-3 in Thailand. Maps 2-6 show the phonological and phonetic variations of vowel nuclei. It is discussed that such dialectal variations as are seen in Maps 2-6 are interpreted as follows:All the dialects are derived from the former phonological state assumed from the orthography, because all vowel nuclei can be specified in terms of initial and final consonant letters and vowel symbols. If this is the case, dialectal differences are due to the regional phonological changes to simplify the vowel systems which have been too complex as a result of overwhelming vowel splits.