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I Hate the Word and the Letter t(Ta)

I Hate the Word and the Letter t(Ta) K H U N S R U N Translator's Note Khun Srun continues to be one of the authors most widely read and appreciated by Cambodian students of literature. The following story is an example of his innovations with form and style. It plays upon the idea--as old as Plato and as current as the French Structuralists--that there is, or should be, a correspondence between a word and the thing it names; even phonemes and the graphic shapes of letters might be parsed to reveal secret meanings inherent in words. In the Khmer language, t [ta]--along with the other consonants named in this story--may be words as well as letters; the graphic signs for each consonant in Khmer always contain an implied vowel, so a monosyllabic word can be written using a single letter. For example, t is ta, P is pho, K is ko, and k is ka. The word t [ta] means something like "to continue," and Khun Srun suggests that the shape of the letter mirrors this meaning by coiling back on itself. Similar in appearance, the letter P [pho] is a complete homophone and partial homograph of the word phor, which means "to lie http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Manoa University of Hawai'I Press

I Hate the Word and the Letter t(Ta)

Manoa , Volume 16 (1)

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-943x
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Abstract

K H U N S R U N Translator's Note Khun Srun continues to be one of the authors most widely read and appreciated by Cambodian students of literature. The following story is an example of his innovations with form and style. It plays upon the idea--as old as Plato and as current as the French Structuralists--that there is, or should be, a correspondence between a word and the thing it names; even phonemes and the graphic shapes of letters might be parsed to reveal secret meanings inherent in words. In the Khmer language, t [ta]--along with the other consonants named in this story--may be words as well as letters; the graphic signs for each consonant in Khmer always contain an implied vowel, so a monosyllabic word can be written using a single letter. For example, t is ta, P is pho, K is ko, and k is ka. The word t [ta] means something like "to continue," and Khun Srun suggests that the shape of the letter mirrors this meaning by coiling back on itself. Similar in appearance, the letter P [pho] is a complete homophone and partial homograph of the word phor, which means "to lie

Journal

ManoaUniversity of Hawai'I Press

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