Cham, Western


A language of Cambodia

Alternate Names
Cambodian Cham, Cham, New Cham, Tjam

204,000 in Cambodia (2008 census). No monolinguals. Population total all countries: 246,990. Ethnic population: 400,000 est.


Near major cities; Kampong Cham and Kampong Chnang along Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Also in France, Libya, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United States, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Cannot communicate with Eastern Cham [cjm] of central Viet Nam. Lexical similarity: 84% with Eastern Cham [cjm] of Vietnam (Pawley 2010), 69% with Jarai [jra] of northeast Cambodia.

Language Use

All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes.

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.
Arabic script. Cham script. Latin script.
Other Comments

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

Also spoken in:

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