Android and Workarounds for the Problem of Khmer Text

Posted July 9th, 2011 at 11:07 am (UTC+7)
3 comments

Bun Tharum, Phnom Penh

Despite lacking official support from the mobile operating system Android, Cambodian developers here could exploit the code released by Google to make Khmer-language websites readable, a high demand from mobile net users.

In a country like Cambodia, Google’s Android-powered smart phones could provide an alternative solution to most people, compared to higher-end phones like Blackberry or iPhone.

Based on the free and open source Linux, Android smart phones are currently the world’s best-selling.

Here, for the Android mobile platform, which doesn’t properly render the interchangeable Khmer text yet, a third-party app is an ideal solution. Recently released, the Radio Free Asia Khmer Reader app makes it possible for platform users to read RFA’s Khmer-language site.

Thim Chanrithy, the developer, told me that in order to make Khmer text readable, he has to hack the system. The app, version 0.4, is available for download for free.

Without this small software on Android-powered phones, readability is an issue facing Cambodian users. The text on the mobile devices appears unreadable.

These users, however, have already figured out a way to express the message content using Latin as a mean to represent Khmer characters and words. This is increasingly popular among young Cambodians to hit conversation when they’re on social networking sites like Facebook. A user wrote: “klean nas,but nov office leoy…:-( ” (“Hungry now, but still in the office.”)

Cambodia’s Android user group is an online discussion board where more than one hundred people are members actively discussing ways to develop tools as they “need Khmer language on Android,” which hasn’t officially supported by US company Google.

While Android platform users are lagging behind in terms of technical issues, there is good news for Apple users, for whom the newest operating system, Lion, has recently expanded native supports for Khmer Unicode.

This technical barrier goes back to as early as 2002 when a journalist for The Cambodia Daily humorously explained:
[block quote]
“A government minister asked the man who established the first e-mail system in Cambodia if he could send an e-mail in Khmer to his wife, who didn’t speak English. He was told he couldn’t. That’s still the answer, more or less, seven years after e-mail came to Cambodia and five years after the arrival of the Internet. The people who designed the early computers didn’t speak Khmer, so the computers don’t speak it either.”

Suggested links:
Radio Free Asia Khmer Reader app

Cambodia Takes on US Software Giants in Battle for Khmer Computer Script

CAUG (Cambodia Android Users Group) – We need Khmer language on Android

Bun Tharum is a freelance journalist, blogger, and digital media specialist. Blogging since 2004, he’s been a contributing-writer for Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent, and several other print publications. His main interests are information and communication technologies for development and online media. Tharum’s base is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city.

3 Responses to “Android and Workarounds for the Problem of Khmer Text”

  1. Thanks, Tharum, for taking the issue of the Khmer script on computers up again – and I am also happy to see Matt McKinney’s 2002 write-up at the “Suggested Links” here. It shows the difficult struggle going on at the time when we tried to get a generally accepted Khmer UNICODE version adapted. In spite of several errors in detail – Chuon Nath’s dictionary was not published in 1915, but in 1938 – Matt McKinney’s report describes that part of the history well.

    Fortunately some knowledgeable people work now to solve the UNICODE Khmer script problem for the Android. I see, however, that also many non-Android users in Facebook use Khmer written in Latin letters. I have often difficulties to decipher such “Khmer,” as everybody is making up their own rules how to write Khmer – instead of installing the free Khmer UNICODE system (http://www.khmeros.info).

    I have never seen that anybody in China, Japan, Korea, or Thailand is writing in Latin letters when using their own language.

  2. Johnny says:

    That’s a shame. I can see that every day. Some Khmer people they reacted to use Khmer Unicode as they really fond of Old Khmer lagacy. This is hard to change them if they don’t see the important of Using Khmer Unicode. Back to why people write Latin for Khmer, I think this is the new way that Khmers try to use their language before Khmer Unicode was created and this continued till now. Some people don’t know about Khmer unicode and some knows but don’t wanna learn new things.

  3. Santel says:

    I wait to see when Android can view Khmer Unicode, Today I can only read Koh Santepheap website that I think they use khmer Google fonts,

    If the webesite owner can implement Google font to support any desktop and device, it would be make the world better.

    Thank Tharum and Norbert to bring up this article.

Leave a Reply

About

About

Bun Tharum is a freelance journalist, blogger, and digital media specialist. Blogging since 2005, he’s been a contributing-writer for Global Voices Online, Asian Correspondent, and several other print publications. His main interests are information and communication technologies for development and online media. Tharum’s base is Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city.

Categories

Calendar

July 2011
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

VOA Blogs