Consonant doubling in Khmer words: Is it inspired by Pāṇini’s aphorisms?

Lecture by Kunthea Cchom.

The proposed paper is a part of my Ph.D. dissertation at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. The thesis aims to show particularities of Sanskrit in Cambodia by studying the Sanskrit loanwords attested in Old Khmer inscriptions side by side with the Sanskrit vocabulary in Sanskrit inscriptions. The study focuses on a range of fields or domains where Sanskrit elements appear to have palpable influence on the Khmer language.

Pāṇini’s grammar bears some aphorisms prescribing the doubling of consonants for Sanskrit language. Many of these aphorisms seem to be regularly applied in the epigraphic compositions in Sanskrit as well as in the Sanskrit loanwords attested in Pre-Angkorian (6th to 8th century A.D.) and Angkorian (9th to 14th century A.D.) inscriptions. Curiously, some consonants in words of Khmer origin, especially those preceded by r, are doubled; which seems to contradict the Khmer phonological rule allowing clusters of two consonants. After the presentation of the corpus of words with doubled consonants, of Sanskrit as well as of Khmer origin, we will turn to the question of whether the doubling of consonants in Khmer can be argued as a result of Pāṇini's grammar influencing the Khmer orthography.

Kunthea Chhom obtained her Master degree in Sanskrit from Magadha University – Bodh Gaya (India) in 2008. She is currently a doctoral student at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris) under the supervision of Professors Dominic Goodall (EFEO/ EPHE) and Michel Antelme (INALCO). Her researches focus on impact of Sanskrit language on Khmer language, as evidenced from Cambodian epigraphy. While pursuing her Ph.D. course, she works for Apsara Authority – Siem Reap (Cambodia) as director of Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum. She is author of a book entitled Inscriptions of Koh Ker 1 (Budapest, 2011).