Cham, Western


A language of Cambodia

Alternate Names
Cambodian Cham, Cham, New Cham, Tjam

204,000 in Cambodia (2008 census). Population total all countries: 246,990. 0 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 400,000.


Near major cities; mainly in central provinces, especially along Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers; Batdambang Province, just northwest of provincial capital; Pouthisat and Kampong Chhnang provinces, southwest shoreline, Tonle Sap reservoir; Mekong river in Kampong Chhnang into very small portion of Kampong Spoe and Kandal provinces; area around Phnum Penh; Kampong Cham and Krachen provinces, Mekong river upstream from Khum Angkor Ban almost to Krachen city; far southwest, Kampot and Preah Seihanu provinces, 2 areas west of Kompot, on shore of Gulf of Thailand.

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 Vietnam (Pawley 2010), 69% with Jarai [jra] of northeast Cambodia.

Language Use

All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. 100% 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.

Arabic script [Arab]. Cham script [Cham]. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

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

Also spoken in:

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