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Home› Languages› Khmer› Written Language› Graphemes


The Symbols of the Writing System  A grapheme is a “unit of the writing system which clearly represents an orthographic unit” (Downing and Leong, 1982, p.55).  These same authors point out that, “In learning to read the universal talk in all languages is to learn how the writing system represents language.  The writing system is the basic tool for literacy, but the tool varies from one language to another” (p.55).

Khmer is a syllabic alphabet writing system (also known as an agubida), that is, there are symbols for combined consonants and vowels (Ager, 2003b; Agubida, 2003). The Khmer written symbols are very different from the Roman alphabet used in English. In addition, Khmer writing does not have spaces between words: spaces are only used at the end of a clause or sentence (Ager, 2003a).

Samples of some of the symbols in the Khmer agubida:

Samples of some of the symbols in the Khmer agubida

Source: Ager, 2003a. Permission requested. For more information see: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/khmer.htm

©2005 Maria de Lourdes Serpa.
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