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Burmese    ဗမာစကား (Burmese [báma sákà])

Burmese, or Myanmar, is a member of the Lolo-Burmese branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. It is spoken mainly in Myanmar (Burma), where it is the official language. In 2007 there were about 33 million people who spoke Burmese as a first language. There are also thought to be another 10 million who speak it as a second language.

Burmese at a glance

  • Native name: မြန်မာဘာသာ [mjəmà bàðà]
  • Linguistic affliation: Sino-Tibetan, Lolo-Burmese, Burmish
  • Number of speakers: c. 43 million
  • Spoken in: Burma (Myanmar)
  • First written: 11th century
  • Writing system: Burmese script
  • Status: official language in Burma (Myanmar)

Standard Burmese is spoken in the Irrawaddy River valley. Within that area there are minor differences in vocabulary and pronunciation between the Mandalay dialect of Upper Burma and the Yangon dialect of Lower Burma. Burmese dialects in other parts of Burma differ more from the standard, but they are all more or less mutually intelligible.

There are two registers of Burmese: high and low. The high register is used in formal literature, newspapers, radio and formal speeches. The low register is used in television, comics, informal literature, and everyday conversation. Since the 1960s some Burmese writers have promoted the use of the low register, and have suggest the abandoning of the high register.

The name Myanmar (မြန်မာ [mjəmà]) is the high register name for the country, and Burma (ဗမာ [bəmà]) is the low register name. Both names derive from the Bamar people (ဗမာလူမျိုး [bəmà lùmjó]), the largest ethnic group in Burma. The full official name of the country is the "Republic of the Union of Myanmar" (ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော် [pjìdàʊɴzṵ θàɴməda̰ mjəmà nàɪɴŋàɴdɔ̀]).

Written Burmese

The Burmese or Myanmar script developed from the Mon script, which was adapted from a southern Indian script during the 8th century. The earliest known inscriptions in the Burmese script date from the 11th century.

Notable Features


Burmese consonants

Vowels and vowel diacritics

Burmese vowels and vowel diacritics

Regular Rhymes

Regular Burmese Rhymes


Burmese numerals

Sample Text in Burmese

လူတိုင်းသည် တူညီ လွတ်လပ်သော ဂုဏ်သိက္ခာဖြင့် လည်းကောင်း၊ တူညီလွတ်လပ်သော အခွင့်အရေးများဖြင့် လည်းကောင်း၊ မွေးဖွားလာသူများ ဖြစ်သည်။ ထိုသူတို့၌ ပိုင်းခြား ဝေဖန်တတ်သော ဉာဏ်နှင့် ကျင့်ဝတ် သိတတ်သော စိတ်တို့ရှိကြ၍ ထိုသူတို့သည် အချင်းချင်း မေတ္တာထား၍ ဆက်ဆံကျင့်သုံးသင့်၏။


lutuing:sany tu-nyi lwatlang.sau: gun.si.khka.hprang. lany:kaung:| tu-nyi-lwatlang.sau: ahkwang.-are:mya:hprang. lany:kaung:| mwe:hpwa:la.su-mya: hpracsany|| htuisutui. puing:hkra: wehpantatsau: nyanhnang. kyang.wat si.tatsau: ci.tui.hri.kra.rwe htuisutui.sany ahkyang:hkyang: mettahta:rwe hcakhcamkyang.sum:sang.e||

IPA transcription

lù.táiɴ.ðè tù.ɲì lṵʔ.lìɴ.ðɔ́ go̰uɴ.ðḭʔ.kʰa̰.pʰjḭɴ lé.káuɴ| tù.ɲì.lṵʔ.lìɴ.ðɔ́ ʔa̰.kʰwḭɴ.ʔa̰.jé.mjá.pʰḭɴ lé.káuɴ| mwé.pʰwá.la̰.ðù.mjá pʰjiʔ.ðè|| tʰò.ðù.to̰ páiɴ.ʨʰá wè.pʰàn.ta̰ʔ.ðɔ́ ɲàn.n̥ḭɴ ʨḭɴ.wa̰ʔ ðḭ.ta̰ʔ.ðɔ́ sḭ.to̰.ʃḭ.ʨa̰.jwe tʰò.ðù.to̰.ðè ʔa̰.ʨʰíɴ.ʨʰíɴ mèʔ.ta̰ʔ.tʰá.jwe sʰɛ̰.sʰàɴ.ʨḭɴ.ðóuɴ.ðḭɴ.ḭ

Transliteration and transcription by Otavio

Hear a recording of this text by Lynnie T. Htoo


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos in Burmese

Information about Burmese | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about the Burmese language

Online Burmese lessons

Burmese phrases
http://seap.einaudi.cornell.edu/system/files/Burmese Language Phrases with Audio_0.pdf

Online Burmese dictionaries

Free Burmese fonts

Online Burmese radio

Online Burmese news

Languages written with the Burmese script

Arakanese, Burmese, Jingpho, Karen, Marma, Palaung

Sino-Tibetan languages

Angami, Bai, Bodo, Burmese (Myanmar), Miju, Tangut, Zou

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

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