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Learn Myanmar Language in conversational and literary form. Learn to speak and read Burmese. The Free Online Colloquial Burmese (Myanmar language) lessons include Burmese script, MP3 audio, PDF files and easy Burmese grammar study materials with color-coded parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, particles, postpositional markers, and interjections.

Naing Tinnyuntpu Naing Tinnyuntpu is no stranger to systematic and efficient approach. He came from manufacturing environment with Bachelor's and Master's degree in Industrial Engineering (USA). His contributions to semiconductor industry include Administrative Quality Best Practices during his working years as a process engineer with Hewlett-Packard in Singapore. Born and raised in Yangon, he has lived in 6 countries and exposed to different cultures and knowledgeable in unrelated areas. This includes self-taught programming languages. Currently, he is contributing to Tourism in Myanmar by making his online Burmese lessons freely available and accessible to all.





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TONE REFERENCE TABLE
Audio Pronunciation
Ah1 "a" in "art" with silent "rt"
Ah2 "ar" in "Argentina" with silent "r"
Ah3 "ar" in "Artist" with slilent "r"
De1 "de" in "deep" with silent "p"
De2 "de" as in "demote"; "demand"
De3 "dee" as in "deer"; "decent"
Ko1 "colt" with silent "lt"
Ko2 as in "co-author"; "cocaine"
Ko3 "cold" wit silent "ld"
Yu1 "u" in "Youth" with silent "th"
Yu2 "u" as in "university"; "utensil"
Yu3 "u" as in "user"; "Unix"
Shan1 as in "shunt" with silent "t"
Shan2 "shun" as in "chandelier"
Shan3 as in "shun"
Au1 as in "auction"
Au2 as in "Australia";"auditor"
Au3 as in "August"
May1 "maize" with silent "ze"
May2 "may" as in "May I?"
May3 "ay" in "amazing"
Sin1 "sink" with silent "k"
Sin2 "sin" as in "sincerely"
Sin3 "sin" as in "sinful"; "Singapore"
Un1 "aunt" with silent "t"
Un2 "un" in "understanding"; "umbrella"
Un3 "un" as in "under"
Meare1 "melt" with silent "lt"
Meare2 "mel" in "Melbourne" with silent "l"
Meare3 "mare" of "nightmare"
Tain1 "taint" with silent "t"
Tain2 "tain" as in "Captain"
Tain3 "tain" as in "maintain"
Bine1 "Bryant" without "r"
Bine2 as in "carbine"
Bine3 as in "combine"
Dome1 as in "don't"
Dome2 close to "dominate"
Dome3 as in "dome"
Toon1 "doont" in "couldn't"
Toon2 "mon" in "monastery"
Toon3 "oon" as in "cartoon"
Koun1 "count" with silent "t"
Koun2 "coun" in "counter-strike"
Koun3 "coun" as in "counsel"
ate cake, jade, eight, paid, bake
et wet, set, mad, yet
oot cook, put, look
out out, south, mouse, doubt
ike/ite sight, pipe, night, dice, like
ut up, nut, sucks
oat oat, coat, goat, soak
it it, pit, sit

Words for Relatives & Family Relations in Burmese Language

What's the difference between calling your parents pfay2-pfay2, may2-may2, MP3 Audio File and a-pfay2, a-may2 MP3 Audio File ? It's like saying "dad and mom" as opposed to "father and mother".

When an adult person speaks about his father to an another person, he will say kja1-nau1 a-pfay2 MP3 Audio File to mean "my father", but at home, he will still call his father pfay2-pfay2 (dad). MP3 Audio File

The table below lists the vocabulary for relatives and family relations in Burmese. The warmer terms spoken at home are shown with the brackets as (warmer).

List of Burmese Family Relations
English AUDIO
twins a-hmwa2
spouse ain2-htoun2-pfet
head of the household ain2-htoun2 u3-zi3
mother a-may2
relative a-myo3
father a-pfay2
grandfather a-pfo3
grandmother a-pfwa3
aunt a-dau2
elder bother a-ko2
eldest brother a-ko2 ji3
elder brother (middle) a-ko2 lut
elder sister a-ma1
elder brother of parent ba1 ji3
great grandfather bay3
great grandmother bay3-ma1
great great grandfather bi2
daughter-in-law chway3 ma1
aunt (warmer) dau2-dau2
second cousins hna1-woon3-kweare3
sister-in-law; younger sister of wife; wife of younger brother kheare2-ma1
brother-in-law; husband of elder sister of a woman; elder brother of husband kheare3-o2
husband (formal) khin2-boon3
elder sister of parent kji3-kji3
elder brother (warmer) ko2-ko2
husband (gossip) lin2
husband & wife lin2 ma1-ya3
step-son (husband's son) lin2 pa2 tha3
same as u3 lay (warmer) lay3-lay3
elder sister (warmer) ma1-ma1
step-daughter (wife's daughter) ma1-ya1-pa2 tha1-mi3
wife (official) ma1-ya3
wife (illicit) ma1-yin2 ngeare2
wife (informal) main3-ma1
mother (warmer) may2-may2
parents mi1-ba1
step mother mi1-dway3
family (parents & children) mi1-tha3-zu1
younger brother (of a girl/woman) moun2
siblings (boy & girl) moun2 hna1-ma1
adopted daughter mway3-za3 tha1-mi3
adopted son mway3-za3 tha3
grandchild myay3
great grandchild myit
younger brother of a boy/man nyi2
(both are) brothers nyi2 a-ko2
siblings (mix boy/girl) nyi2 a-ko2 moun2 hna1-ma1
(both are) sisters nyi2 a-ma1
younger sister nyi2 ma1
younger sister (warmer) nyi2 ma1 lay3
step-father pa1-htway3
father (warmer) pfay2-pfay2
grandfather (warmer) pfo3-pfo3
grandmother (warmer) pfwa3-pfwa3
first cousins ta1-woon3-kweare3
father and son tha3 a-pfa1
mother and child tha3 a-mi1
eldest son tha3 ji3
son-in-law tha1-met
daughter tha1-mi3
eldest daughter tha1-mi3 ji3
son tha3
great great grandchild ti2
nephew tu2
niece tu2 ma1
younger brother of parent u3 lay3
cousin woon3-kweare3
sister-in-law; elder or younger brother's wife; husband's elder or younger sister youn3-ma1
parent in-law yout-kha1-ma1
husband (informal) yout kja3
brother-in-law; elder or younger sister's husband; wife's elder or younger brother yout-pfa1
wife (formal) za1-ni3
young couple za1-ni3 moun2-hnun2

There are still certain terms that need more elaboration than the space that the above table allows. For example, if I say Mr. A and Mr. B are kha1-mi3 kha1-met tau2 deare2 , this means Mr. A's son (or daughter) is married to Mr. B's daughter (or son).

tau2 deare2 in the above phrase indicates that the two are related.

The word a-yin3 is attached to the relationships to mean having blood-relation with the similar DNA pattern. So, a-pfay2 a-yin3 is a biological father as opposed to step father.

When the father re-marries, the siblings of the same father but different mother are called pfa1-ay2 tu2 ma1-ay2 kweare3. The word tu2 in this context means "the same" and kweare3 means to differ by mean of separate route or path.

There are also cases where the mother re-marries and have children. The children from the first marriage, and the second marriage are ma1-ay2 tu2 pfa1-ay2 kweare3

Some of the Burmese words such as great great grandfather are not so common. I, myself, had forgotten those words from long disuse, and needed to refer back to the reference book.

Reference:

Essential Words Dictionary by Pyinya Kyaw (Pyin2 Nya2 Kjau2); Unity Publishing House, Yangon, February 2010

Lesson 20: Visiting a Burmese Family in Myanmar

It's party time! No, it's not. Sorry to disappoint some folks, but don't expect too much partying, alcohol drinking, and wild parties late into the night in Myanmar. Majority of Burmese families are still very conservative, and they are Buddhists as well.

Traditional Myanmar

Myanmar Traditional New Year [47 seconds]. It's party time! No, it's not. Sorry to disappoint some folks, but don't expect too much partying, alcohol drinking, and wild parties late into the night in Myanmar. Majority of Burmese families are still very conservative, and they are Buddhists as well.

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Saturday, May 7, 2016
Po Po | ပိုပို | po2 po2

However, I must also add that the reason for lack of colorful nightlife in Myanmar is more of economic reason than religion.

OK, so we are not going to a wild party. But, a decent Burmese family has invited you to an afternoon lunch at their house. Let's have some conversation in Burmese.

Welcome to our house!

kjwa1 ba2... kjwa1 ba2 -- Welcome, welcome... Please come in!

This phrase needs some explaining. You cannot directly translate, "Welcome, please come in" from English to Burmese word by word. "Welcome" is sometimes translated by the formal Burmese greeting Min2-gla2-ba2. MP3 Audio File In written language on signboards, the phrase kjo2-zo2 ba2 e1 MP3 Audio File is used, such as in "Welcome to Yangon". But those phrases are not used to the invited guests.

Welcome in Burmese

The word kjwa1 is used for the arrival of distinguished guests, honorable persons and venerable monks.

Where to remove your footwear?

Just like other Oriental cultures in several countries including Oriental community in Canada, Burmese people have the custom of removing the footwear, shoes, and slippers at the doorstep. If you are not sure, ask,

pfa1-nut -- Footwear
beare2 hma2 -- where (where + at)
choot -- to remove, to take off
yah1 -- can be done
ma1 leare3 -- ?

pfa1-nut beare2 hma2 choot yah1 ma1 leare3 -- Where can I remove my shoes?

Please take a seat

htine2 ba2-ome3 -- Please take a seat! (sit + polite suggestion)

You can reply by saying:

au2.. hote-keare1 -- Oh, OK! (Oh + yes)

Meet the wife

da2 -- this
kja1-nau1 -- my (male term)
a-myo3-tha1-mi3 -- lady (polite)
ba2 -- polite affirmative ending words

da2 kja1-nau1 a-myo3-tha1-mi3 ba2 -- This is my wife.

A Burmese woman would say "this is my hubby" like this :

da2 -- this
kja1-ma1 -- my (female term)
a-myo3-tha3 -- man (polite)
ba2 -- polite affirmative ending words

da2 kja1-ma1 a-myo3-tha3 ba2 -- This is my husband.

The formal word for the wife is za1-ni3. MP3 Audio File This word is a loaned word from Hindi language in India. For example, you can read about Mr. so and so and his za1 ni3 in the newspaper. The informal and casual word for the wife is main3-ma1, MP3 Audio File which means "woman". kja1-nau1 main3-ma1 MP3 Audio File means "my wife".

Sometimes, polite word ga1-dau2 MP3 Audio File is used to address the wife of someone in high social status. For example, if the husband is a teacher, a doctor, or head of the department, people will address to him as hsa1-ya2 MP3 Audio File and to his wife as hsa1-ya2 ga1-dau2. MP3 Audio File

OK, back to the Burmese house that we are visiting. As the wife of the host smiles and nods her head, you can say:

tway1 -- to meet (verb)
yah1 ta2 -- as for being able to (particle)
wun3-tha2 -- be glad(verb) equivalent to happy (adjective in English)
ba2 deare2 -- polite affirmative ending words. (particle + postpositional marker)

tway1 yah1 ta2 wun3-tha2 ba2 deare2 -- Nice to meet you!

Meet the young daughter

da2 -- this
gah1 dau1 -- as for
tha1-mi3 -- daughter
ba2 -- polite ending word

da2 gah1 dau1 tha1-mi3 ba2 -- As for this, she is the daughter.

ha2.. -- wow!
hla1 -- pretty
lo1 -- "to"; "the reason"; "the reason to look at" in this context.
ba2 la3 -- exclamation! (Oh, like that..)

That phrase is difficult to translate into English. The speaker is commenting on the way the girl dresses, or put on the tha1-nut-kha3 MP3 Audio File (traditional make-up used as a protection from the sun) that makes her pretty to look at. Usually, the word la3 is an equivalent of a question mark. But, ba2 la3 is an exclamation. It's like the English word "what", which can be a question word, or exclamation such as "What a beautiful girl!".

ha2.. hla1 lo1 ba2 la3 -- Wow, you are so pretty!

One word of caution here if you are a man. It's quite appropriate to make this comment to a small girl, or to your girlfriend, or to someone that you know well who is about to go out with you, but not to any grown up girl or woman that you just met, and definitely not to the wife of the host that you just met.

tha1-mi3 -- Daughter
beare-hna1 tan3 -- which Form/Grade (where + at + grade)
yout byi2 -- has reached (to arrive or to reach + has reached certain level, state or condition)
leare3 -- ?

tha1-mi3 beare-hna1 tan3 yout byi2 leare3 -- Daughter, what Grade are you in now?

lay3 dun3 -- grade 4 (4 + grade)
oun2 -- to pass
thwa3 byi2 -- has gone through (to go + has reached certain level, state or condition)

lay3 dun3 oun2 thwa3 byi2 -- have passed grade 4; I just passed grade 4.

Education system in Myanmar

Perhaps, your hosts will talk something about their kids and schools. When I was growing up, the official English translation for the number of schooling years in Myanmar was known as "standard". But, it is now changed to "grade" as in American/Canadian education system. In the old days, "pre" Standard 1 is called thu2-ngeare2-dun3. MP3 Audio File Nowadays, on the cover of thu2-ngeare2-dun3 textbook, you can see the English word GRADE 1.

You can estimate the age of the child by the "grade" that he or she is in. 5 Years olds start school as a Grade 1. This is unlike the British education system where students go through "primary" 1,2,3,4, and then "form" 1,2,3,4,5,6.

Speaking of education system, private schools are now getting popular in Myanmar among the affluent parents to prepare their children for entrance into foreign universities. Education has become a big business with students busy taking tuition after school hours, and in many cases given by their own school teachers in government schools. Only the brightest students are qualified for medical college in the country where medical doctors are highly respected. (Unlike in the US, the top students do not choose law, nor do they have to go through 4 years of college first to enter law or medical schools.)

Myanmar Private School

Can you talk politics with your host?

Yes, you can now. Politics was a hot topic in the 2015 elections year. This country used to be the country of fear with no freedom of speech or press. All was changed about two years after President U Thein Sein took office in 2011. In the year of 2015 General elections, I was surprised to see some news media highlighting students demonstrating the education law passed by the parliament with photos of people who are too old to be students. From my own observation and common sense tell me that normal teenagers are not too concerned with or understand such big issues. Even adults are not aware of the details of the Education law. However, in later reports, the same news media carried the story about some students who are young girls. It is truly admirable if those young demonstrators have passion and knowledge about those issues on their own initiatives and perhaps, they are child prodigies who have solutions for the country at such young age. If not, it's just sad to see their future sacrificed as pawns in the dangerous game.

Let's get back to the Burmese family.

ha2... -- Wow!
tau2 -- to excel in whatever that one does; bright; brilliant
lite da2 --"extreme to such a degree; so much"

ha2... tau2 lite da2 -- Wow, you are so bright!

Myanmar Grammar Notes: tau2 MP3 Audio File in the above context is a verb in Burmese grammar. In English, it is similar to adjectives "bright", "clever", and "brilliant", but in the above sentence, it is used as "to excel in something".

Learn the extreme word "lite da2

The word lite da2 MP3 Audio File roughly means "extreme to such a degree".

More examples of the extreme word:

pu2 lite da2 -- It's so hot!
hsa2 lite da2 -- I am so hungry!
koun3 lite da2 -- It's so good!

Myanmar Grammar Notes: hsa2 MP3 Audio File is the verb "be hungry". Whenever one-syllable description of the word has something to do with subjective feeling, perception or emotion (as opposed to external condtions such as weather), general rule of thumb is that the word is a verb.

Meet the rest of the family

a-myo3 MP3 Audio File means "relative".

a-myo3 tau2 deare2 MP3 Audio File means to be related. This is a complete sentence which says the person in the conversation is a relative. Yes, the word "tau2" MP3 Audio File in this context is spelled and read exactly the same as tau2 in the phrase tau2 lite da2 MP3 Audio File (You are so bright!) we have seen earlier.

Burmese have quite complex ways of addressing the relatives depending on the seniority. Fortunately, it's less complicated than the Chinese who even have different words for "grandfather" and "grandmother" depending on whether he or she is from the mother's side or the father's side. I have listed most of the Burmese vocabulary to address the relatives, and to describe the family relations in the table at the left column.

So, the word tau2 could mean to excel in something, and it also means to be related to someone. Here is an another usage. In this clip, tau2 ba2 means "enough" as in "enough is enough, please stop." It's another performance by Eint Chit | ain1 chit (see lesson 2 and 4) with different look who excels (tau2) in what she does. Also, she seems to get a little tired and enough of high notes that she can hit wonderfully, so she tried a different vocal style.

So, the word "tau2" could mean to excel in something, and it also means to be related to someone. Here is an another usage. In this clip, "tau2 ba2" means "enough" as in "enough is enough, please stop." It's another performance by Eint Chit | ain1 chit with different look who excels "tau2" in what she does. Also, she seems to get a little tired and enough of high notes that she can hit wonderfully, so she tried a different vocal style. (43 seconds)

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Friday, May 20, 2016

What does "ah3 na2" mean?

If you bother to bring expensive gifts, or a token of present, or offer to help them out in some way, you may hear the very common Burmese phrase

ah3-na2 sa1 ya2 ji3 MP3 Audio File (or)
ah3 na2 lite da2 MP3 Audio File

What does ah3-na2(verb) MP3 Audio File mean? If you analyze it word by word, it doesn't make sense. ah3 means "strength" and na2 means "to be painful". Since I cannot translate it word by word, I will describe the feeling tone. You have the same feeling inside as you say the words: "You are so kind, I don't even know how to repay you back" in English.

The speaker may also use the phrase ah3 na2 lite da2 MP3 Audio File to express apology, for example, when she keeps someone waiting. It's like saying: "I am so sorry to keep you waiting."

The word sa1 ya2 MP3 Audio File in the first phrase means "matter", which is slightly different in pronunciation than hsa1 ya2 MP3 Audio File as in "teacher" or "master" written in different Burmese alphabet. When you say hsa1 ya2 in the word "teacher" or "master", there is more hissing sound for hsa1 as you put the tip of your tongue closer to the teeth.

The word ji3 means "big". So, ah3-na2 sa1 ya2 ji3 MP3 Audio File is a matter of big appreciation.

Likewise, ah3 na2 lite da2 MP3 Audio File is an another way of saying, "Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it so much."

Please accept my sincerity

Your Burmese host may be at first reluctant to accept the gift as he says

ah3-na2 sa1 ya2 ji3 MP3 Audio File

as if saying: "Oh, it's so expensive. You shouldn't have done that. We couldn't accept it". Burmese people really feel it inside. It's not just superficial formalities. It doesn't mean he does not like it, though. You need to do more persuasion.

yu2 ba2 MP3 Audio File -- Please take it! (take + polite suggestion)

say2-da1-na2 (noun) MP3 Audio File means "sincere good will". When you are helping someone, or giving something to someone with sincerity, you have this say2-da1-na2 within you. This Burmese version is slightly different in meaning from the original ancient Pali word "Cetana", which means any volition good or bad that will result in Karmic consequences. The usage of this word is also slightly different from "altruism" in English, which refers to the deeds and actions for the welfare of many, whereas say2-da1-na2 is more often used in one to one personal relations.

say2-da1-na2 -- sincere good will (noun)
neare1 -- with (postpositional marker to show that noun is being "used")
pay3 -- to give; to pay (verb)
ta2-ba2 -- this is as such ("this" in reference to above action [particle] + polite ending word [particle])

say2-da1-na2 neare1 pay3 ta2-ba2 -- I am giving this to you with all my sincerity.

yu2 ba2 nau2 -- Please take it! (take + polite suggestion + warm feeling tone)

Your chance to "ah3 na2"

Back in lesson 15, I have covered the list of food items in Burmese language. Now it's your turn to say ah3 na2 to the host as they prepare the food for you.

sa3 ba2-ome3 -- Please eat! (eat + "do as such" suggestion)

da2 -- this
gah1 dau1 -- as for
xxxx -- name of the food.

da2 gah1 dau1 xxxx -- This is xxxx.

hteare1 ba2-ome3 -- Please take some more! (put in + "do as such" suggestion)

It's so special!

Burmese Lunch

There's a simple Burmese word to describe delicious food with appetizing aroma and flavor accompanied by pleasing appearance. The word sheare2 MP3 Audio File comes from the English word "special". You will often see this word displayed at roadside stalls and eating houses to attract customers.

ha2... sheare2 beare3 -- Hmmm... it's so special!

As the host brings more food to the table, you can say:

ah3-na2 sa1 ya2 ji3 -- You are so kind and hospitable!

Yes, indeed, those are very appropriate words. Burmese people have the culture of treating the guests more than what they would normally have themselves. At this point of writing, the income disparity and the gap between the rich and the poor is even more widening. While the rich can wine and dine in style and be happy, the average government employee will have to think twice whether or not to invite the guests, as the money is tight.

Myanmar government office

But, it appears that we have now started to see light at the end of the tunnel. Within three years of new parliamentary system, we have seen marked improvements in the living conditions, boom in constructions along with new foreign investments pouring into the country, creating new jobs and opportunities. There has been pay raise to the government employees for the third time as well as a realistic pension plan for the retirees during this period, which has alleviated the situation considerably without steep inflation.

See you again next time

nout -- next time; future (noun used as an adverb)
pyan2 -- (particle to show repetition)
tway1 -- meet (verb)
ja1 -- (particle to show plurality of the verb)
thay3 -- yet to be; till then (particle)
ta2 pau1 -- positive statement (ending particle)

nout pyan2 tway1 ja1 thay3 ta2 pau1 -- See you again next time!

Philosophical Concept of the future

In Burmese, the word NOUT MP3 Audio File refers to the back -- the direction behind you. nout hma2 MP3 Audio File means "at the back". Looking back at the year 2008, this is the singer အစ္စဏီ | Issani telling, "Don't turn back and look". I can't help but look even further back to the faint distant past, the time when I was listening to this song in the original Chinese version. The mystery surrounding Time is captured by this word NOUT which also refers to the future point in time. Why is it that the back refers to the future?

Don't Look Back

In Burmese, the word နောက် | NOUT refers to the back -- the direction behind you. Looking back at the year 2008, this is the singer အစ္စဏီ | Issani telling "Don't turn back and look". {42 seconds] I can't help but look even further back to the faint distant past, the time when I was listening to this song in the original Chinese version. The mystery surrounding Time is captured by this word NOUT which also refers to the future point in time. Why is it that the back refers to the future? I then recalled this interesting Buddhist illustration of our journey in life. There was a picture of a man walking backward as the passage of time took him from youth to the inevitable old age and death. He could see the path that he had walked in his life, but the future was unseen. There is no looking back to the past, but perhaps, we can take a peek at the future behind us and say, သွားပါဦးမယ် | thwa3 ba2 ome3-meare2 -- Well. I've got to go... နောက် ပြန်တွေ့ ကြသေးတာပေါ့ | nout pyan2 tway1 ja1 thay3 ta2 pau1 -- See you again next time!

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Wednesday, June 1, 2016
အစ္စဏီ | Issani

I then recalled this interesting Buddhist illustration of our journey in life. There was a picture of a man walking backward as the passage of time took him from youth to the inevitable old age and death. He could see the path that he had walked in his life, but the future was unseen. There is no looking back to the past, but perhaps, we can take a peek at the future behind us and say,

thwa3 ba2 ome3-meare2 -- Well, I've got to go... MP3 Audio File

nout pyan2 tway1 ja1 thay3 ta2 pau1 -- See you again next time! MP3 Audio File