Cham, Western


A language of Cambodia

Alternate Names
Cambodian Cham, New Cham, Tjam

204,000 in Cambodia (2009 UNSD). No monolinguals. Ethnic population: 474,000 (2001 J. Leclerc). Total users in all countries: 246,000.


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 Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


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. Used by all. Positive attitudes. All also use 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. Literature. Radio. Dictionary. Texts.


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.

Also spoken in:

Expand All
Collapse All
Page Views Left: