Cham, Western

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A language of Cambodia

Cham, Western

Alternate Names
Cambodian Cham, Cham, New Cham, Tjam
Language Maps
Population

204,000 in Cambodia (2009 UNSD). No monolinguals. Ethnic population: 400,000. Total users in all countries: 246,990.

Location

Scattered, nearly half of the Cham in Cambodia live in Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum provinces, where they are about 6% of the total population. Cham also live dispersed through all other provinces especially Kampong Chhnang and Kratié provinces.

Language Status

6a (Vigorous).

Dialects

None known. Cannot communicate with Eastern Cham [cjm] of central Viet Nam. Lexical similarity: 84% with Eastern Cham [cjm] of Viet Nam (Pawley and Pawley 2010), 69% with Jarai [jra] of northeast Cambodia.

Language Use

All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. All also use Central Khmer [khm].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 30%. Literacy rate in L2: 50% in Khmer [khm]. Many children learn to read Cham using Arabic-based script in madrassah schools. In one sect, most people over age 50 can read using the ancient Cham script called Kakha. Radio programs. Dictionary.
Writing

Arabic script, Naskh variant [Arab]. Cham script [Cham]. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Small ethnic groups from Cambodia settled in Thailand but no longer speak Cham (Bradley 2007a). Muslim.

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