Demand for Khmer Script Increases With Social Networks

More Cambodians are using Khmer script on their mobile phones, a likely result of in­creased demand to communicate in their native language on social networks, according to the au­thor of a study released Friday.

The study, Mobile Phones in Cam­bodia 2014, says that about 20.4 percent of more than 2,000 respondents said they had typed Khmer script into their phones at least once. 

More than two-thirds of those who had typed in Khmer did it daily or weekly, according to the report, an increase of 335 percent from 4.5 percent in 2013. As for reading Khmer script on their phones, 20.6 percent of respondents said they had done so.

“Awareness is…increasing ra­pidly, with more and more people regularly using Khmer script on their phones,” says the report, which was published by the Asia Foundation, USAID, and the Open Institute, a technology NGO.

The study surveyed 2,066 Cam­bodians between the ages of 15 and 65 living in both urban and rural areas. It found that Cambo­dians under 25 use Khmer script the most, but its use is increasing among older people as well.

For those under 25, the study found 24.8 percent used Khmer script for typing daily or weekly, a 427 percent increase over last year, and 23.3 percent, a 283 percent increase, could read Khmer script.

In all other age ranges, including those over 45, the number of people typing in Khmer rose by more than 500 percent and those reading in Khmer rose by more than 350 percent over the past year.

The starkest rise was among those between 35 and 45, with the number of people typing in Khmer at 10.2 percent, a 2,040 percent increase, and the number of people writing at 10.1 percent, a 1,537 percent increase.

Javier Sola, director of the Open Institute and co-author of the study, said the increases are the result of more Cambodians de­manding Khmer script for use on social networks and more phones supporting the script.

“Facebook is the largest motivation to install Khmer on smartphones. It has been key to communication and it motivated people to read and write in Khmer,” he said.

“Social networks will be the big drive for Khmer script because Cam­bodians want to read content such as news and entertainment that is in Khmer,” Mr. Sola add­ed. “More and more phones coming into the market now have Khmer.”

The study said that 23.2 percent of Cambodians said they used or had used Facebook, a 29 percent increase from 2013.

It also said that the number of Khmer-enabled phones “has reached the necessary critical mass for facilitating communication in Khmer,” and that 93.7 percent of Cambodians own a mo­bile phone, of which 51.3 percent are capable of communicating in Khmer script and 28.3 percent are smartphones.

Last year, 90.4 percent of Cam­bodians said they owned a mobile phone, and 29.5 percent of them had phones capable of communicating in Khmer script.

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