There has been a Chinese population in Cambodia for more than 500 years and contact with Cambodia was first mentioned by the eminent China emissary Zhou Daguan as early as 1296 during his travels there. Despite a relatively high degree of integration into to the majority Cambodia culture, ethnic Chinese have maintained their own social organizations, news media, and schools. The Cambodian Chinese population is organized around five Huiguan (会馆) ‘congregations’ corresponding to the southern-origin Chinese groups that comprise it: Chaozhou 潮州会馆, Cantonese 广肇会馆，Hakka 客属会馆, Fujian 福建会馆, and Hainan 海南会馆. Until the Khmer Rouge forced closure of Chinese schools in the mid seventies, the language of Chinese education followed the dialects of each association. However, in recent times Mandarin has become the lingua franca of the Sino-Cambodia community, though among ethnic Chinese there are few if any native speakers of Mandarin.
Through examination of survey data and recorded interviews, this presentation sketches a picture of the contemporary Chinese community in Cambodian and outlines some of the language change occurring by contact with the majority Khmer langauge. The paper gives special attention to examples from the local Cantonese.