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How to type Khmer Unicode 1 of 15

How to Type Khmer Unicode


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I f you have used t he old- st yle Khmer font s ( Lemon, Bat t ambang, ABC, et c. ) before, it will
t ake you very lit t le t ime t o get used t o t he new font s ( Unicode font s) . I n only one or t wo days
you will be t yping fast er t han before.
Unicode is not j ust one more font . Unicode is t he new I nt ernat ional st andard for Khmer.
Comput ers all around t he world will underst and Khmer language when t yped using Unicode
font s. Unicode is also t he new st andard of t he Cambodian Government . I n a few years all t he
old font s will be forgot t en, and all t ext s will be in Unicode.
All Unicode font s have t he same encoding, meaning t hat once a t ext is t yped in a Unicode
font , it can be changed t o any ot her Unicode font , and t he t ext will remain exact ly t he same,
somet hing t hat did not happens wit h t he old font s.
One of t he most import ant differences bet ween t he old of t yping and Unicode is t hat when
using t he new font s, t here is a key in t he keyboard for each vowel, including j, j, !, !, ,
,!, et c. I n Unicode you t ype t he let t ers as t hey are in Khmer, not some part s of t hem first
and t hen t he rest . And most import ant , you t ype t hem in t he order t hat t hey are spelled, not
from left t o right , as you would writ e t hem by hand. As an example, if you want ed t o t ype t he
word wit h t he old font s, you had t o writ e
+ + ,
Wit h t he new font s you would t ype
+
You can see t hat not only t he keys t hat you t ype are different ; you also t ype first t he
consonant and t hen t he vowel, as if you were spelling t he word ( LO. . . SRA OE) .
Anot her big novelt y in t he new way of t yping is t hat t he coeng consonant s are not in t he
keyboard, I n order t o writ e t hem, you need t o use t wo different keys: a key t o indicat e t he
following consonant is a coeng consonant , and t hen t he normal key for t hat consonant . For
example, t o writ e t he word , you need t o t ype:
+ + +
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This is done t his way in order t o t ype fast er, and so t hat you do not need t o remember t he
sit uat ion in t he keyboard of all t he coeng consonant s.
But t hese are j ust some examples t o int roduce you t o t he new way of t yping. We will now
st art from t he beginning and go t hrough all t he det ails one by one, st art ing by looking at t he
Khmer let t ers t hemselves.
Khmer Consonant s, Vow el s and si gns
Consonant s:






I ndependent Vow el s
Modern Khmer has 14 independent
vowels:


Dependent Vow el s
The Chuon Nat dict ionary, a classic
reference for Khmer, list s 20 vowels:

j j
! !
Nevert heless, t he modern Khmer syst em t aught in
schools list s t hree more vowels, raising t he number t o
23. These vowels also included in t he keyboard - are:
!
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There are ot her combinat ions t hat following t he same
crit eria ( combining a vowel wit h t he REAHMUK mark)
could also be considered as vowels, but t hey are not
considered as such by any source, so t hey are not
included in t he keyboard. The have t o be writ t en wit h t wo
keyst rokes. They are:

Consonant shi f t er s
Triisap and Muusikat oan. When followed by a high vowel, t hey
change t heir shape t o t hat of vowel SRA U.

Si gns pl aced above
Toandakhiat , Samyok sannya, Ashda,
Kakabat , Bant oc and Viriam.



Robat
Si gns pl aced behi nd t he consonant
Reahmuk and Yuukaleapint u.

Khmer punct uat i on si gns
Khan, Bariyoosan, Camnuc Pi Kuuh, Lek
Too, Phnaek Muan and Koomuut

Lat i n punct uat i on si gns used i n Khmer
Khan, Bariyoosan, Camnuc Pi Kuuh, Lek Too, Phnaek
Muan and Koomuut
!
? .
Khmer number s


Ri el cur r ency sy mbol
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Khmer di vi nat i on number s


Lunar dat es





Ot her si gns used f or ol d Khmer , or f or
Sansk r i t or Pal i t r ansl i t er at i on
Let t er SHA, let t er SSO, sign Avakrahasannya,
independent vowel QUK, Sign At t hacan
and sign Bat hamasat



The Keyboard
The comput er in which you want t o t ype in Khmer script needs t o know t hat what you
want t o t ype are Khmer let t ers, so t hat when you pr ess t he key:
The comput er knows t hat it has t o print t he let t er , and not t he let t er T.
You t ell t he comput er t hat you want t o writ e in Khmer by select ing t he Khmer Keyboard. You
can see what keyboard is select ed in your comput er by looking at t he bot t om- right corner of
your screen, which looks somet hing like:
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T

How to type Khmer Unicode 5 of 15


Please pay special at t ent ion t o t he let t ers EN. EN is short for English. I f you see t his let t er,
it means t hat t he comput er is using an English keyboard, so for every key t hat you t ype, you
will always get English let t ers.
I f, nevert heless, you see t his:
The let t ers CA mean t hat your comput er is using a Khmer keyboard, and t hat t herefore any key
t hat you hit will produce Khmer charact ers.
You can easily change bet ween t he English and t he Khmer Keyboards, by eit her.
Pr essi ng t he Shi f t and t he Al t k ey s dow n at t he same t i me. Every t ime t hat you
press t hem t here will be a change of keyboard. I f t he present keyboard is t he English
one ( EN) , it will change t o Khmer ( CA) , and if t he curr ent one is t he Khmer keyboard, it
will change t o English.
Cl i ck i ng on t he l et t er s EN w i t h y our mouse. When you do t his, an small window wit h
all t he possible opt ions will open. I n t his window you should click on CA ( ignore t he fact
t hat besides CA it says Cat alan ) .
To t est all t he examples in t his document , you need t o use t he Khmer keyboard; t he bot t om-
left corner of your screen should display t he let t ers CA.
Typing in Khmer Unicode
When using Unicode, t yping is done in spelling order, not in left - t o- right writ ing order. The
comput er it self t akes care of put t ing t he let t ers in t he right order. As we ment ioned before, a
simple word like:

is typed:
+
and not
+ +
This order must be followed for all words. The general rule is t hat syllables must be writ t en
in t he order:
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Consonant + Coeng Consonant(s) + Vowel + sign(s)
Consonant s and independent vowels are used in t he same ways in Khmer ort hography, so
when we say consonant - in t his document - it will generally mean consonant or independent
vowel.
Vowels are t yped always aft er t he consonant , independent ly of t hem being placed before,
aft er, above or below t he consonant . The comput er will place t hem in t he right place.
Vowels t hat have t wo part s ( such as !) are also t yped aft er t he consonant :
+ =
+ =
+ =
+ =
I f you t ype let t er in an incorrect order, t he comput er display a dot t ed circle t o indicat e t hat
t he const ruct ion is incorrect . For example, if you t ype: + + t he comput er will display
The consonant s and vowels placed in t he lower part of t he key are t yped by j ust pressing
t he corresponding key. Consonant s and vowels placed in t he higher part of t he right side of t he
key are t yped by holding t he SHI FT key pressed and pressing t hat key.
Some let t ers t hat are not oft en used ( some independent vowels) , and which are print ed in
t he t op- left side of a key in grey color, need t o be t yped by pressing t he Alt Gr key ( right - side
Alt key, ) .
I f a syllable cont ains any coeng consonant s, t hey have t o be t yped aft er t he main
consonant , but before t he vowels, if t here are any.
You might have not iced t hat t he coeng consonant s are not in t he keyboard, as was t he case
before wit h keyboards for Limon, ABC or ot her font s. This is because in Unicode t he same key is
used t o t ype t he normal consonant and t he coeng consonant . I n order t o signal t hat t he next
consonant must be a coeng consonant , t he following key must be t yped before t he consonant :
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T

(Shift)

(Shift)

How to type Khmer Unicode 7 of 15


For example:
+ + + =
+ + + =
+ + + =
For syllables t hat have t wo coeng consonant s, you must t ype bot h coeng consonant s in
spelling order, each one of t hem preceded by t he sign:
+ + + + + = _
Make sure t hat you do not t y pe coeng RO bef or e anot her coeng consonant , always
follow spelling order, and nev er t ype a coeng consonant af t er a v ow el .
Speci al cases f or consonant s
There are some cases in which let t ers can be repr esent ed wit h more t han one shape,
depending on ot hers let t ers around t hem. This is t he case of let t er when followed by . I n t he
old font s it was necessary t o have a special let t er for t his, but in Unicode you must t ype t he
normal key for . When you t ype t he comput er will find t he right shape of let t er .
+ =
Somet hing similar happens wit h let t er . You do not have t o care about t he right shape of
or . The comput er will always find t he correct one. You only need t o make sure t hat you t ype
t he right let t ers.
+ + =
+ + + + =
+ + + =

+ + + + + =
Nev er t y pe + i nst ead of .
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How to type Khmer Unicode 8 of 15


Speci al cases f or v ow el s
There are some vowels, t hat , in spit e of being in t he keyboard, correspond t o t wo different
charact ers ( t hey do not have t heir own charact ers in Unicode) . These vowels are:
and !
You can t ype t hese vowels direct ly wit h t heir keyboard key, but if you lat er want t o erase
t hem; you will have t o press t he key t wice.
The opposit e happens wit h vowels t hat have t wo part s ( split vowels) :
j j ! and !
They also t ype by pressing only one key, but t hey are erased by pressing only once.
Ot her vowels t hat are not in t he keyboard require t yping t wo keys. For example:
+ + =
Consonant - shi f t er s
Somet imes, a charact er called a consonant - shift er is used t o change t he sound of a vowel
t hat accompanies a consonant . There are t wo of t hese charact ers:
Tr i i sap ( ) is used t o change t he sound vowels t hat accompany consonant s of t he first
series t o sound as if t hey accompanied consonant s of t he second series. I t can only be used
wit h consonant s of t he first series t hat do not have a second series equivalent . These
consonant s are:
and
Muusi k at oan ( ) is used t o change t he sound vowels t hat accompany consonant s of t he
second series t o sound as if t hey accompanied consonant s of t he first series. I t can only be
used wit h consonant s of t he second series t hat do not have a first series equivalent . These
consonant s are:
and
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As an except ion , is also used wit h t he let t er t o change it s sound from a b sound t o a
p sound.
The consonant - shift er is always t yped aft er t he consonant and any coeng consonant s, but
before t he vowel. The order of component s, including t he consonant - shift er, will be:
Consonant + Coeng Consonant(s) + Consonant-shifter + Vowel + sign(s)
Examples:
+ + + =
+ + + + + + ! =
+ + + + + + + =
+ + + =
+ + + + + =
+ + + + + =
When t he consonant - shift er is eit her followed by a vowel t hat needs t o be placed above
t he consonant or by , t he consonant shift er changes it s posit ion aut omat ically t o be placed
under t he main consonant , and also changes it s shape t o t he same shape of t he vowel ( same
for and for ) . You do not have t o t ype . I f t he lower- form shape is necessary, t he comput er
it self will display it t hat way. Some examples:
+ =
+ + =
+ + =
+ + + + + = j

I f you t ype inst ead of or , it will not work, as you cannot t ype t wo vowels one aft er t he
ot her in Khmer:
+ + =
There are t hree except ions t o t he rule in which t he consonant - shift er does not change t o
t he lower posit ion, in spit e of having somet hing above t he consonant . You do not have t o really
worry about t hem, because t hey are aut omat ically handled by t he comput er, but you should
look at t hem, so when t hey appear you are not surprised or t hink t hat somet hing is not working
correct ly.
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How to type Khmer Unicode 10 of 15
I t does not change when t he vowel is , because t he combinat ion of wit h t he lower
shape of t he consonant shift er could be confused wit h t he vowel . The same happens for
all signs placed above t he consonant . I f t hey are ever combined wit h a consonant - shift er,
t hat consonant - shift er will be locat ed above t he consonant .
+ + =

I t cannot change when t he let t er is combined wit h , because t he reader would not
know if t he lower form of t he consonant shift er represent s or ( t herefore if is t he
sound of t he vowel t hat must change or is t he sound of t he consonant should be p
inst ead of b ) .
+ + + =

When t here is a main consonant and a coeng consonant , and eit her of t hem is . This
rule is followed consist ent ly all over t he Chuon Nat dict ionary. This is probably due t o t he
fact t hat t he ot her consonant in t he syllable might be of t he second series, and if t he
consonant shift er is placed down, it is not clear if it is a t hat applies t o or a t hat
applies t o t he ot her consonant .
+ + + + + =

Si gns
There are t hree t ypes of signs in Khmer t hat may form part of a syllable:
Robat ( ) . Robat is a sign borrowed from I ndian languages t hat is phonet ically
equivalent t o placing a RO sound before t he consonant above which it is placed. I t is
t reat ed different ly from ot her signs must always be t yped aft er t he consonant above
which it will be placed, even before any vowels are t yped. A syllable t hat has cannot
have any coeng consonant s, nor vowels or signs t hat need t o be placed above t he main
consonant . When Robat is used, t he syllable can only be const ruct ed as:
Consonant + Robat {+ Vowel} {+sign}
As in:
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How to type Khmer Unicode 11 of 15
+ + =
+ + + = :
+ + + + =
+ + + + + =
+ + + + + + =
Ot her signs placed above t he main consonant ( ) . Toandakhiat ( ) , Samyok
Sannya ( ) , Ahsda ( ) , Kakabat ( ) , Viriam ( ) and Bant oc ( ) , are placed above
t he main consonant . Normally t hey do not combine wit h vowels, but in t he cases t hey
do, t hey should always be t yped aft er t he vowel, and before any signs placed behind t he
syllable. When t hey combine wit h a vowel, in most case t he vowel is ( not t o be confused
wit h t he consonant - shift ers or ) . I f we include all t his in our formula, we get :
Consonant + coengs + consonant-shifter + vowel + Above signs + After signs
+ + =
+ + + + =
+ + =
+ + + =
There are t wo except ions, which are aut omat ically handled by t he comput er, but please
pay at t ent ion t o t hem:
o Somet imes a high vowel might combine wit h Kakabat as in:
+ + + =

o The + combinat ion, used in many words. Some of t he old font s had a special
charact er for t his. I n Unicode t he t wo charact ers are correct ly ligat ed when you
t ype t hem separat ely, as in:
+ ! + + + =
Techni cal not e: As a short t echnical not e, and in spit e of us calling it vowel here, t o
simplify t he reading, Unicode considers as a sign, and not as a vowel . The
charact ers and need t o be formed by combining t he vowels and wit h t he sign
( sign Nikahit ) . Bot h Khmer vowels ( and ) exist in t he keyboard, for compat ibilit y
wit h Khmer cult ure, but what t he keyboard really does is t o generat e t he charact ers
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How to type Khmer Unicode 12 of 15
or and t hen t he charact er . The same happens wit h t he vowels , and !. They
are creat ed aut omat ically by t he keyboard, but we have t o underst and t hat when we
press one of t hese vowels, t he keyboard is first doing a vowel ( , or !) and t hen
t he sign Reahmuk ( ) .
Si gn pl aced af t er t he consonant w hi ch ar e par t of t he sy l l abl e and af f ect t he
sound ( and ) . Reahmuk ( ) and Yuukaleapint u ( ) are always placed as t he last
element of t he syllable. They should not be confused wit h t he punct uat ion mark Camnuc
pii Kuuh ( ) .
+ + =
Punct uat i on mar k s ( ! . ? )
Khmer script has it s own punct uat ion marks: sign Khan ( ) , sign Bariyoosan ( ) , sign
Camnuc pii Kuuh ( ) , sign Leik Too ( ) , sign Phnaek Muan ( ) and sign KooMuut ( ) .
I n addit ion t o t hese, some punct uat ion marks are borrowed from t he Lat in script , such as t he
exclamat ion sign ( ! ) , period ( . ) , double quot es ( ) and int errogat ion mark ( ? ) . The
period is only used for abbreviat ions. Wit h t he except ion of , Khmer punct uat ion marks are
usually separat ed from t he preceding and following words by a space. Lat in punct uat ion
marks are usually not separat ed from t he word t hat precedes t hem, except for t he quot at ion
marks, which is at t ached t o t he word t hat follows it when opening a quot at ion and at t ached
t o t he word t hat precedes it when closing t he quot at ion.
I n Khmer, t he space ( ) is also considered as a punct uat ion mark, and should t herefore
be used only t o mark a pause in t he speech, not t o separat e words. I n order t o t ype a space,
you need t o hold t he SHI FT key down and at t he same t ime press t he spacebar.
About l i gat ur es
I n Unicode font s, when a consonant is followed by , it changes slight ly it s shape for
aest het ic reasons. I F t he is erased, t he consonant goes back t o it s original form. The
user does not normally know t hat ligat ures happen; he only knows t hat his t ext looks
nice. Please pay at t ent ion t o t his:

You can see how t he shape of t he line above has changed, j ust t o make t he t wo let t ers
look nicer.
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How to type Khmer Unicode 13 of 15
Anot her t radit ional ligat ure of Khmer happens when a Moul Khmer let t er UO is
accompanied by t he vowel SRA I
Z er o Wi dt h Space ( ZWSP) .
I n Khmer words are writ t en one aft er t he ot her, unless punct uat ion rules specify t hat
t hey must be separat ed. Word processing programs, I nt ernet browsers and ot her
programs t hat format t ext need t o know where t hey can cut a sent ence in order t o st art
a new line. I n west ern languages t hat use t he space t o separat e t he words, t his is not a
problem, but in Khmer language all t hese programs do not know how t o recognize t he
end of a word, and t herefore a place were t he line can be broken so t hat a new line can
be st art ed.
I n most newspapers in Cambodia, t he line breaking is done by hand. The person writ ing
t he t ext calculat es if t he next word will fit in t he line or not , and he or she will go t o t he
line by hand. This syst em works for format t ing t ext s t hat will never be changed.
Web pages cannot use t his syst em; t he format of t he page depends on t he size of t he
browsing program window in t he user s comput er, and on t he resolut ion of t he screen.
Each case is different , so t he program it self needs t o do t he line breaking, a st at ic line-
breaking syst em does not work. The same happens when working on good format s for
t ext . Using a program flexibly requires t he program t o be able t o break t he t ext bet ween
words.
The solut ion t o t his problem is t o insert bet ween words a charact er t hat like a space
has no pict ure, but , unlike t he space, does not separat e t he words graphically, a gap
bet ween t he words t hat cannot be seen. A gap t hat programs can use t o know where t o
break t he lines.
This charact er is called Zero Widt h Space, and, it is t he most used charact er in a t ext
( out of each 100 key presses while t yping Khmer, 16 are on t he Zero widt h Space) , so
t his highly used charact er is placed in t he keyboard in a very easy t o access locat ion: t he
space bar. Every t ime you press t he space bar you insert a separat ion gap.
I f you press t he spacebar ( wit hout pressing any ot her key) , t he charact er t hat will be
added t o t he t ext is a ZWSP, not a visible space.
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How to type Khmer Unicode 14 of 15
I f you wit h t o t ype a space, you must hold down t he SHI FT key and t hen press t he
spacebar.
Nonbr eak abl e Space
I n general, no mat t er wit h which language, t here is necessary t o have syllable,
word, phrase, and sent ence as paragraphs element . The right combinat ion of t hese
element s forms a meaningful t ext paragraph. The import ant feat ure we need t o know is
what is t he difference bet ween syllable, word, phrase, and sent ence? how t o recognize
t hem? We supposed you have already known by learning Khmer Grammar. At t his point ,
we focus only on sent ence.
Sent ence is a combinat ion of words which have enough meaning ended wit h any
Khmer punct uat ion sign such as ( ? ! . .. . . ) This rule also apply wit h West ern language,
but a bit difference is t here is no space bet ween word and punct uat ion sign. This make
t ypist more easy, because t he sign will never be on t he new line alone.
According t o Khmer grammer, part icularly in writ t ing, each sent ence must be
supperat ed from each ot her by any punct uat ion sign and spaces are needed bet ween t he
words accompaning t hat sign and t he sign. Typist will have a bit difficult y, especially,
when t he sign is at t he end of paraphraph. I f t here is a space, t he sign will go down
alone. The paraphrase will no longer have a good looking.
To advoide t his problem, in comput er syst em we have creat ed a special key st rok called
Nonbreakable Space. I t is t he combinat ion of ( Alt ( Gr) ) key and Space.
Formula word + Alt(Gr) + Space + punctuation
Nonbreakable Space
Adding Nonbr eak abl e Space bet ween word and punct uat ion means you normally see
how t he word, space, and punct uat ion look, but imply an unbelievable special feat ure. The
space seems a solid space t hat can link word wit h punct uat ion by not allowing punct uat ion drop
t o a new line alone.
Nonbr eak abl e Space is not only used wit h punct uat ion, but also wit h ot her charact or
and st ill preserves it s original special feat ure : Space but not new l i ne at t he end of
par agr aph
Typing practice
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How to type Khmer Unicode 15 of 15
I f you have read down t o here, you should by now already underst and t he mechanics of
t yping Khmer using Unicode font s. I t is t ime t hat you put everyt hing in pract ice, buy t yping t he
following t ext :
Advanced typing
Khmer has ot her charact ers t hat are very seldom used. These charact ers - used for old
Khmer or for t ranslit erat ion of Pali and Sanskrit - can be accessed using t he Khmer keyboard,
but t hey are not print ed in t he keyboard. The charact ers are:
Old Khmer, Sanskrit and Pali
Alt Gr + B
Alt Gr + K
Alt Gr + T
Alt Gr + Q
Alt Gr + W
Divination signs
Shift + Alt Gr + 1
Shift + Alt Gr + 2
Shift + Alt Gr + 3
Shift + Alt Gr + 4
Shift + Alt Gr + 5
Shift + Alt Gr + 6
Shift + Alt Gr + 7
Shift + Alt Gr + 8
Shift + Alt Gr + 9
Shift + Alt Gr + 0
Lunar dates:
Shift + Alt Gr + Q
Shift + Alt Gr + W
Shift + Alt Gr + E
Shift + Alt Gr + R
Shift + Alt Gr + T
Shift + Alt Gr + Y
Shift + Alt Gr + U
Shift + Alt Gr + I
Shift + Alt Gr + O
Shift + Alt Gr + P
Shift + Alt Gr + [
Shift + Alt Gr + ]
Shift + Alt Gr + A
Shift + Alt Gr + S
Shift + Alt Gr + D
Shift + Alt Gr + F
Shift + Alt Gr + G
Shift + Alt Gr + H
Shift + Alt Gr + J
Shift + Alt Gr + K
Shift + Alt Gr + L
Shift + Alt Gr + ;
Shift + Alt Gr +
Shift + Alt Gr + Z
Shift + Alt Gr + X
Shift + Alt Gr + C
Shift + Alt Gr + V
Shift + Alt Gr + B
Shift + Alt Gr + N
Shift + Alt Gr + M
Shift + Alt Gr + ,
Shift + Alt Gr + .
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