Khmer, Northern


A language of Thailand

Alternate Names
Khmer Lue, Thailand Khmer

1,400,000 (2006 Mahidol University), decreasing. Very few monolingual.


East, mainly Surin, Buriram, Sisaket, and Ubon Ratchathani provinces; also in Chanthaburi Province southeast of Bangkok.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Buriram, Sisaket, Surin. Different from Central Khmer [khm]. Dialects mutually intelligible. Many local varieties.


SVO; prepositions; genitives, modifiers, relatives after noun heads; 1 prefix; CV, CVC, CCV; nontonal.

Language Use

Vigorous in towns; replaced by Isan [tts] and Thai in cities. A few Chinese shopkeepers speak it. Education, media, religious services, commerce. Positive attitudes. Also use Isan (a dialect of Northeastern Thai [tts]). Also use Central Khmer [khm], Thai [tha]. Used as L2 by Kuy [kdt].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%. 1,000 can read Northern Khmer, 100 can write it. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75%. 1,000 can read Northern Khmer, 100 can write it. Bible: 2003.

Thai script [Thai].

Other Comments

Buddhist, Christian.