"I am not really optimistic about finding a 'universal' Khmer lullaby that all parents sing to their babies, except the first words. Each village, even each family has its own tradition passed down to the next generation with the same tune except the lyrics. The one we translated (here) can pretty much be used by anybody to represent a Khmer Lullaby." -Romny
Sleep, My Darling
Sleep, my darling, sleep.
Don't cry, my baby.
Your rice with honey,
Is already prepared.
When you wake up
I'll feed you.
After you've eaten
You'll play over here.
If there's a chore,
I'll call you,
No need to go far
To get you.
Don't cry, my love,
I'll hold you in my arms.
When you grow up
You'll go to school,
You'll gather knowledge,
One day, my love,
It will help you.
Don't cry, my love,
I need to earn a living
To take care of you.
(This is only for a general idea)
kaun aey keng tow (My Son Went to Sleep)
kaun aey dek tow kom aoy kaun yom
bay kaun tuk khm mea t y leay ruochhaey
dl kaun phngea k ae ng banhchouk tranatraey
kaun haub ruochhaey daerleng now ay
ke der trauvkar mdeay haw mk brae
me minbach daer tow rk kaun chhngay
kaun kom yom mdeay bei knong dai
cham thnhai kaun thom ning tow sala
sansaam vichchea dak touk knong khluon
thngaikraoy measa snhuon chuoy khluoneng na
kaun kom yom teub mdeay sngab chenda
khetkham thveukear yk brak chenhchum kaun
We asked Romny if the lullaby was actually addressed to a baby girl (it reads this way in the French, not English translation). Here is what he answered: "A baby girl or a baby boy, very good question! It's not an interpretation but a deduction from a word that I translated in French to 'mon cœur' ('my love' in English). Literally, it's 'gold – to pamper'. In Cambodian, gold is mostly used as an 'endearment prefix' for girls. Before this line, I didn't know if it was addressing a baby girl or a baby boy."
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Many thanks to Romny Neang for sharing this song with us and for translating it into French and English (with Lisa).
Image: Old Images of Phnom Penh (early 1900's) – Young Children