Cambodian System of Writing and Beginning Readerby Franklin E. Huffman
This volume consists of four parts: (1) The Cambodian Writing System, a formal description of the relationship between the writing system and the phonology of the language; (2) Programmed Reading Exercises, a series of highly structured reading drills to train the student to read all regular Cambodian word shapes; (3) Beginning Cambodian Reader, fifty reading selections, graded in length and difficulty, ranging from short, simple narratives to essays on various aspects of Cambodian culture; and (4) Cambodian-English Glossary, containing some 2,000 words.
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This book is amazing. Although it's an oldie(published circa. 1970 I think), the book thoroughly teaches the beginning learner of Cambodian how to read Cambodian through exploration of passages whose topics concern traditional Cambodian lifestyles such as filial piety, visiting the countryside, leisure activities in Phnom Pehn, and talking about one's family, to name a few. A scientifically devised method of romanization is used to clearly explain pronounciation of the words, so the reader will have little to worry about. The book's greatest triumph (alonside deep immersion into written language) is the intimate detail given to help explain how the script and orthography work. It's all covererd in the first or so half of the book and quick reference to those pages is always possible. But however, you should know this is not the book to teach you that slangy, colloquial, (and may I even say vular?) language that Cambodians are so fond of using in everyday life. The vocabulary in this book is formal and educated, and using those kinds of words in conversation is likely to met with laughter by Cambodians regardless of their educational level since they're so unfamilar with speaking the "written language". Just imagine yourself using words "The Terminator" would use. (By the way, the book uses ~ 2,000 words overall.) The book also does not come with any CDs, so you must understand pronounciation of Cambodian to effectively read the romanization. If you want a course with CDs, Colloquial Cambodian by David Smyth and Cambodian for Beginners by Richard K. Gilbert and Sovandy Hang will be decent remedies. Lastly and sadly, the book does not cover directly Cambodian grammar. You'll have to learn and guess it yourself as you read sentences and paragraphs while on the bottom of the pages, the definition of the new words introduced are exlained in English. Although you won't have command of the spoken language, this book will allow you to confidently read Cambodian on your own with time. As of Sept.20,2009, I've had this book for almost two months and I predict in another 2 months I'll finish studying this book as I like spending time to review. To get even more out of the book, try to consult with a native speaker if possible for further explanation on pronounciation and grammar. I look forward to other books in the series, which include Modern Spoken Cambodian, Intermediate Cambodian Reader, and Cambodian-English Glossary in the near future.