Proverbs and adages are an integral part of Khmer culture and often provide some
thoughtful advice or fundamental insight into the basic truths of life.
The Khmer Institute has undertaken the task of collecting and translating
these words of wisdom into English for the benefit of the English-speaking
public and subsequent generations of overseas Cambodians.
In translating these words of wisdom, our primary consideration
was the accurate preservation of their meaning. Tone was a secondary
consideration. Regrettably, we often could not translate the poetic
devices (the rhymes, rhythm, alliteration, assonance and consonance)
that give these proverbs and adages their brilliance. For instance,
has been translated "Associating with sages
will bring you contentment and a life devoid of suffering." This saying is compelling not simply because of its prudent advice, but because of
the skillful manner in which the author expresses it. A phonetic
transliteration shows the use of various poetic devices: kub kit bon-dit
sok muy che-vit ot tuk. In these less than ten words, we find
alliteration, rhyme, consonance and a distinct metrical pattern that is
broken off at the end to effectively punctuate the thought.