Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Quick Pronunciation Guide

Please, under no circumstances, should you refer to the Capital of Cambodia as "Nom Penh" or "Fnom Penh". Please. This drives me crazy. I would let it rest, but we went to watch a documentary the other night where the narrator Sam Waterston (who should know better) mispronounced the city's name about 15 times (You too, Arrrgh!

Here's a little help for how it should be said:

  1. This is the first consonant - "Pho" - an aspirated "P" sound like "papa"
  2. This consonant "Naw" - makes a "N" sound, and the since it's written as a subscript you combine it with the preceding consonant. In this case it's "Puh-naw"
  3. The vowel "Om". Makes an "Om" sound. (Word 1 complete: Phnom)
  4. The vowel "Ae". It actually comes after #5 (right to left doesn't always apply for Khmer script). In this case, it makes an "ee" sound.
  5. The consonant "Po", it makes a sound like a b and a p put together
  6. The final consonant "ño", it sounds just like the spanish "enyay".

So ultimately, we have "Puh-nom-peñ" (or "pə-näm-peñ"), but if that final enyay is a problem, don't sweat it. Just don't get caught saying "Nom Penh" or I may have dump a bucket of prahoc in your bed!

If any of you have any further insight on this issue, please comment away. I'd love to be set straight. But no mater what crazy colonist decided that it was at one point OK to bastardize this city's name and amputate it's first syllable, it's time to start pronouncing it the way it's written.

1 comment:

Jared said...

Were you using your nives while neeling on a neumatic table in nom penh?