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The spoken language of Burmese is originally derived from Chinese-Tibetan, while the alphabet is derived from Pali, a Brahmin script from southern India, which dates from the 7th century AD.

Burmese has a fairly simple grammar. The language has no articles, nouns have no plural form and verbs are not conjugated and are always at the end of a sentence. All words consist of one syllable, and longer word constructions are created by combining syllables. The Burmese alphabet consists of 32 consonants and 8 vowels. The consonants are always at the beginning of a syllable.

The pronunciation in particular is very complicated. Burmese is a tone language in which each syllable can be pronounced at three different pitches that are barely distinguishable from each other. By varying the pitch, different meanings of words are indicated. Often, words are even pronounced the same way as they are written, and one only has to make out what is meant from the context.

Besides Burmese, around 200 other languages and dialects are spoken. The Padaung, Palaung and Mon speak Mon-Khmer language, which belongs to the Austro-Asiatic language family. Shan is part of the Sino-Tai language group and is related to Thai and Lao.


One - ti
Two - hni
Three - thoun
One hundred - ya
Monday - taninlanei
Sunday - taninganweinei
Bread - paunmoun
Fruit - thithi
Vegetable - hindhihinywe
Water - yei
Coffee - kahpi
Tea - lapet yei
How is it going? - no gaung-je-la
Fine, thank you - no gaung-ba-de
Goodbye - sswaa-bi
Thank you - tsjee-szoe tin-ba-de
Yes - hoo-ke
No - ma-hoo-poo


Hulst, H. / Birma: (Myanmar)
KIT Publishers/Oxfam Novib

K├Âllner, H. / Myanmar (Birma)
Het Spectrum

Myat Yin, S. / Burma
Times Books

Peterse, L. / Birma (Myanmar)

Reid, R. / Myanmar (Burma)
Lonely Planet


CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info