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
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.
BURMESE LESSONS MENU
Looking for a word?
SEARCH MYANMAR WORDS IN ENTIRE MYANMAR LANGUAGE LESSONS.
Burmese Buddhists are expected to be able to recite Au3 Ka2 Tha1| ဩကာသ, and
almost all who grew up in Burma (Myanmar), Buddhists as well as non-Buddhists, will have heard of at least some part of this prayer.
ဩကာသ refers to the world, which is close in meaning to the word
"the boundless universe" A-nun2-da1 Set-kja2-wa1-la2 | အနန္တစကြဝဠာ where water, land, forests, mountains and oceans,
etc., Yay2, Myay2, Tau3, Toun2, Tha1-moat-ta1-ya2 sa1 dthi2 doh1 |
ရေ၊ မြေ၊ တော၊ တောင်၊ သမုဒ္ဒရာ စသည်တို့ exist.
The following is my translation of the above Buddhist prayer, which is not the "official" translation of any
Religious Council or Ministry.
For the result:
misdeed all kinds
made by body,
speech, and thought
anger all type
in this World...
First, Second, and Third,
One, two, three times
to the three Gems:
Buddha, the Law
Order of Monks
heavy thought (with)
both palms raised up
homage is made -- Pilgrimage.
pride let go
with worship -- sought
Oh, Venerable Lord!
Also see the translation of Au3 Ka2 Tha1 line by line with romanization. Pali terms are
further elaborated in Burmese for those who can read and understand Burmese well.
MYANMAR NATIONAL ANTHEM (နိုင်ငံတော်သီချင်း)
Here's something every Burmese Nationals know, and ex-Burmese Nationals all over the world still remember: Burmese National Anthem. Although
National flag is now flown in different colors and stripes, and the name of the country has changed in English from Burma to Myanmar, the spirit and the words behind
the Burmese National Anthem remain steadfast in the Land of the Fast and the Strong known as
Myanmar မြန်မာ | Myan2-Ma2, or
ဗမာပြည် | Ba1 Ma2 Pyay2 as sung
in the National Anthem.
Burmese independence hero General Aung San was an avid reader, and known to be talented in writing. In November 1933, still in his college days,
he won a competition to translate a passage from English to Burmese under the pen-name
ပဲခူးကဝေ | Ba1-go3 Ka1-way2, which appeared in
ဂန္တလောက မဂ္ဂဇင်း | Gan2-da1 Lau3-ka1 Magazine.
He also had a pseudonym အညာသားလေး | Anya2 tha3 lay3
with which he wrote two articles in June and August 1935 editions of
သူရိယ မဂ္ဂဇင်း | Thu2-ri1-Ya1 Magazine.
Other articles in his college days include လောကဝိဟာ | Lau3 Ka1 Wi1 Ha2
in 1937 September edition of မျိုးညွန့်မဂ္ဂဇင်း | Myo3 Nyoon1 Magazine
where he expressed his opinion on the meaning of education, and
ကျောင်းသားဝတ္တရား | Kjoun3 tha3 Woot-ta1-ya3
meaning "responsibility of students" in November 27th 1937 issue of
မန္တလေးသူရိယ | Mun3-da1-lay3 Thu2-ri1-ya1.
He was then known as တက္ကသိုလ် ကျောင်းသား ကိုအောင်ဆန်း | Tet-ka1-tho2 Kjoun3-tha3 Ko2 Oun2 Sun3.
In his earlier years of short political career, Bogyoke Aung San used the pen-name
သခင်အောင်ဆန်း | Tha1-khin2 Oun2 Sun3.
Articles appeared in ဒဂုန်မဂ္ဂဇင်း | Da1-gome2 Magazine
and နဂါးနီစာစောင် | Na1-ga1-ni2 Sa2 Soun2.
During Japanese Occupation, on the day Japanese announced "Independence" of Burma (August 1st., 1943), General Aung San wrote an article in
the special edition of ဗမာ့ခေတ် | Ba1-ma1 Khit newspaper with the
title ဗမာ့လွတ်လပ်ရေး အရေးတော်ပုံ | Ba1-ma1 loot-lut-yay3 a-yay3-dau2-pone2
(Chronicle of Burma's Independence). Here's an excerpt:
(Second) World War is about to become a reality. What's the situation like for Burma?
What shall we Burmese do? Those challenges appeared in my stream of thoughts one after another.
I immediately made a sole determination. I shall leave my life to fate alone and let it be.
But, for the independence of my country, I shall struggle fervently and make a fearless venture with
a restless heart. Such was the iron determination I made with an unyielding spirit.
General Aung San never had the time to write a book during his struggle for independence, but he had indicated the desire to
retire from politics and write books after the independence on subjects like politics, history, family affairs and education of
children based on his belief system and point of view. The following was what he told
တက္ကသိုလ်နေဝင်း | Tet-ka1-tho2 Nay2 Win3 (also known as
ဗိုလ်ထွန်းလှ | Bo2 Htoon3 Hla1) in April 1947.
One can only wonder what kind of additional contributions he would have made to the elegance of Burmese literature and the spirit of
Nationalism. Bogyoke Aung San did not live to see the independence of Burma. He was assassinated in the gloomy morning of July 19th, 1947.
(Reference: Writing Style of Bogyoke Aung San by Mya Han; Ava Publishing House, January 1998.
မှီငြမ်းကိုးကားသောစာအုပ်-- သုတေသနမှုး ဆရာဦးမြဟန် ရေးသားသော ဗိုလ်ချုပ်အောင်ဆန်း၏ စာပေလက်ရာ၊ အင်းဝစာပေတိုက်၊ ၁၉၉၈၊ ဇန်နဝါရီလ)
Burmese Poem ( မြန်မာကဗျာ )
Here's a sample of Burmese poem for children. For those who can read and understand Burmese, this will leave you smiling. The
Poem was written by ဆရာကြီးမင်းသုဝဏ် | Hsa1-Ya2-Ji3 Min3 Thu1 Woon2.
He was born on February 10, 1909, and a poet during Bogyoke Aung San era who was born on February 13, 1915.
Added Note: I had this poem in this page a couple of years before U Htin Kyaw was hand-picked by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
to be the 9th president of Myanmar. Only then, I came to realize that he is the son of this poet.
Learning to read and pronounce Burmese script is the first step towards understanding the meaning behind the written words, and a
necessary step towards competency in writing or typing in Burmese. In this lesson, I will introduce you to the characters and
a system of pronunciation designed to help you to read Myanmar written words in the shortest possible time.
If you are the first time learner who has never seen the Myanmar written words, my recommendation is to start with the
recognition of characters and know the basic rules and general spelling patterns rather than memorizing everything. In this stage, you may not
remember how all the characters and symbols are pronounced when put together, but you should be able to refer back to the reference guide, and at
least be able to get the close pronunciation. My guess is that will be sufficient for most tourists and visitors who need to find out
the pronunciation of just a word or two out of curiosity or necessity.
It should be noted that pronunciations of some words do not necessarily follow the way they are spelled. For example, the word Pagoda is spelled "Bu1 Ya3",
but read "Pfa1 Ya3".
664 audio files for 730 selected words in the PDF file. (Some with same sound.)
A summary text file with audio file names in English Romanization and Burmese script.
A CSV file of the above text file that can be opened with most spreadsheet programs.
An Excel spreadsheet of the above text file for easy sorting.
A Brief History of Burmese (Myanmar) Script
Historical evidence suggests that Myanmar Script has existed at least as far back as 11th Century Bagan Civilization. The living historical
evidence is the 12th century Mya Zedi Pillar Script engraved in Mon, Myanmar,
Pali, and Pyu languages. It is possible that some variants of Brahmi and Pyu script of the earlier
Pyu city-states were in use in Bagan before adapting to the Mon script
by King အနော်ရထာ |
to transfer the knowledge of Tharavada Buddhism from the Mon.
Analysis of the COMPARISON TABLE OF MYANMAR, MON, PYU, AND BRAHMI SCRIPTS in the
Myanmar-English dictionary published by the Department of the Myanmar Language Commission shows that 11th century Myanmar Script is closer
to the Mon Script than Pyu script. But, note that Old Mon Script has missing 12th, 14th, and 32nd characters
ဌ - ဎ - ဠ , which look more like variants of Pyu and Brahmi.
Pyu script, just like Mon Script, is derived from the original Brahmi script of
ancient India shown in the left column of the table.
To give a sense of timeline in history, Ancient Pyu script was in use as far back as 4-6 AD. In comparison,
based on Latin script was introduced to the Anglo-Saxon people of England in the 7th century, and
Modern English began in the late 15th century. The works of
William Shakespeare dated back to the early 17th century.
Dr. Judson, an American Missionary, who made
a thorough study of the Burmese language theorized in his book
GRAMMAR OF THE BURMESE LANGUAGE, published in 1883 that Burmese alphabet is
modification of the ancient Nagari Script just like Pali, but not a
modification of Sanskrit.
However, it should be noted that Sanskrit is the Language just like the
Pali, and both the languages can be written in different scripts including Nagari,
Devanāgarī, or even in modern English and Burmese. Nagari is said to be the old term for
Devanagari, which itself is the
Brahmic family of scripts, so most researchers today will agree
with Dr. Judson.
As seen in the COMPARISON TABLE, The shapes of several Burmese characters had evolved throughout the centuries to the present day print form.
With the rise of "Bamar" people, Burmese script became the dominant script replacing Mon and Pyu in the land of what is known as Myanmar today.
By the 18th century with the advent of printing, the shapes of all the 33 main characters had become almost identical to the present day
The first English to Burmese dictionary by the Englishman Charles Lane
with the help of Burmese prince
မက္ခရာမင်းသား | met-kha1-ya2 min3-tha3 was published
in 1841. The sample below shows the printed Burmese Script from this dictionary. Although some of the spellings have changed since then,
the characters have the same shapes as the present day computer fonts. Also note that the 27th Burmese character
ရ | Ya1 in the Prince's name was pronounced with
"R" sound instead of "Y" as met-kha1-ra2.
Yadanabon Naypyitaw Newspaper was first published on 24 March 1874 by Yadanabon Naypyitaw Press in Mandalay during King Mindon era.
Today, just about anyone with a computer using Burmese font can print in Burmese. There are some slight variations among different
font types and some deviations in ratios of the shapes can be seen. For example, designers of the Thanlwin font used in this website made the
smaller curves within the characters less conspicuous to the extent that the 22nd character
ဖ | pfa1 almost looks like the 21st character
ပ | pa1.
Browser Support to display Burmese Fonts on the web page
You need browser version of at least IE 9.0, Chrome 4.0, Firefox 3.5, Safari 3.1, or Opera 10.0 to view Burmese font on this
Does your browser meet the requirement?
I was impressed with Thanlwin font and Ekaya Input Method which is not only Unicode compliant but also rendered difficult-to-spell double-stacked
words and Buddhist texts correctly, so I have switched to Thanlwin from an another
In earlier days, users need to have the font downloaded first into their computers, and in addition, browser options must be changed. Fortunately,
the technology has much improved (plus freely available for download or learn online.) For the web page, I am using CSS3 @font-face rule to
include and automatically pull "ThanlwinBold.ttf" font.
Burmese Script is the later addition to the original lessons. I now have Burmese Script versions of the previous lessons for serious learners
of the Burmese language.
Known Issues with fonts
If you have already pre-installed some other Burmese fonts that are not Unicode-compliant, you may see incorrect display of Unicode-compliant
fonts such as the one used in this website. You have the options of changing your default font in your browser setting, or un-install other
fonts, or use an another machine without the Burmese font in it. You do not need to install any font to view this website, as the font will
be automatically loaded. If your Internet connection is slow, make sure first that the page has completed loading the fonts. To quote
Wikipedia under the sub-heading "Why not Zawgyi":
Those who have Zawgyi or pseudo-Unicode fonts in their computers find their computers may display incorrect text and might affect other
The following passage is from the play "Water Seller" | ရေသည်ပြဇာတ် |
yay2-theare2 pya1-zut by
famous Burmese poet, playwright and author U Pone Nya |
ဦးပုည | u3 pone2 nya1 during Konbaung Dynasty.
If the font display in brown color matches the image below in blue color, the font is working correctly.
Burmese language has 33 main characters known as byi3 |
ဗျည်း. Those are comparable to 26 alphabets in English, but without uppercase and
Each of those byi3 has the sound with the vowel "a" in the first tone. E.g.,
Ka1, Kha1, Ga1, Nga1, Sa1, Za1, Nya1 | က၊ ခ၊ ဂ၊ င၊ စ၊ ဇ၊ ည၊
and so on. Several of those byi3 have variant byi3
with the same sound and some are seldom used.
Unlike English which can form words only with the vowels A,E,I,O,U within the 26 alphabetical system (except "by" and "my"), Burmese makes use of
additional symbols known as tha1 ra1 | သရ, and
byi3 tweare3 | ဗျည်းတွဲ. In this learning system,
I have categorized those symbols under three groups:
To simplify the learning process, I have categorized and grouped those symbols slightly different from
Myanmar Spelling & Orthography Reference Book(မြန်မာစာလုံးပေါင်း သတ်ပုံကျမ်း) as published by the Ministry of Education
(ပညာရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန ၊ မြန်မာစာအဖွဲ့ဦးစီးဌာန) in Naypyitaw. The official publication in Burmese
language intended to be used by teachers, students, government employees, and monks had the list of
34 byi3 in byi3 sin2| ဗျည်းစဉ် where sin2 means
ordered list. The one extra byi3 shown with the brackets is Nya1 ga1 lay3 |
ဉ, which is a Pali byi3 and, is given the same 10th position as the
Burmese Nya1 | ည, which in official publication is
called Nya1 Ji1 | ညကြီး.
150 possible variations in vowels, tones including 8 single tone groups,
combination of closing thut and tones, and standalone characters all lumped under the list of
tha1 ra1 + a thut sin2 | သရ နှင့် အသတ်စဉ်.
11 possible combinations of what I termed as "consonant modification symbols" listed
under byi3 tweare3 sin2 | ဗျည်းတွဲစဉ် where
tweare3 means to append or to attach.
All 33 plus one byi3, those listed under tha1 ra1 and thut sin2, and
byi3 tweare3 sin2 fall under the category of Et Kha1 Ya2 |
Whenever I include Burmese script in my lessons, I will use the "official" spelling, and in case "official" spelling is not available, e.g., new
foreign words like website | ဝက်ဘ်ဆိုက်, I will use what is
commonly seen in journals and advertisements. However, Romanization with 1,2,3 Tone System
is my own creation.
Myanmar Language written in left to right word order has punctuation marks similar to comma, and full stop (or period).
Poat Pfyut | ပုဒ်ဖြတ် is a vertical line that has the same
height as the normal character "Ka1" and usually used in separating the items in the list of similar items. Example:
က၊ ခ၊ ဂ၊ ဃ၊ င၊
Poat Ma1 | ပုဒ်မ is a double vertical line to indicate
the end of the sentence. In addition,
Poat Ma1 can also be used after
the number 1,2,3 in the list instead of the brackets. Example:
၁။ တစ် ၂။ နှစ် ၃။ သုံး
"Double Poat Ma1" with ample space in between known as Poat Ma1 Ji3 |
ပုဒ်မကြီး is used as tab in official business letters and government
application forms following the word "Subject" in the header. Example:
"Double Pote Ma1" is also used as a writing
style at the end of long articles and essays to indicate the ending.
33 Main Characters (or) Letters — Byi3
Characters or letters that are more frequently used or seen are highlighted.
Simple usage examples are given for each letter.
ka1 ကကြီး | spelled as: Ka1 kji3. Read as: Ka1 Ji3 as in ကမကထ | ka1 mah1 ka1 hta1 -- give leadership
kha1 ခခွေး | spelled as: Kha1 khway3. Read as: Kha1 Gway3 as in ခဏခဏ | kha1-na1 kha1-na1 -- often
ga1 ဂငယ် | spelled as: Ga1 Ngeare2. Read as: Ga1 Ngeare2 as in ဂဃနဏ | ga1-ga1 na1-na1 -- differentiate clearly
ga1 ဃကြီး | spelled as: Ga1 Kji3. Read as Ga1 Ji3 as in အာဃာတ | ah2 ga2 ta1 -- grudge; vengefulness
nga1 င | spelled as: Nga1. Read as Nga1 as in စေ့င | say1 nga1 -- be sufficient
sa1 စလုံး | spelled as: Sah1 Lone3. Read as Sah1 Lone3 as in အစအန | a-sa1 a-na1 -- bits and pieces
hsa1 ဆလိမ် | spelled as: Hsa1 Lain2. Read as: Hsa1 Lain2 as in ဆဋ္ဌမ | hsut hta1 ma1 -- sixth
za1 ဇကွဲ | spelled as: Za1 Kweare3. Read as: Za1 Gweare3 as in ဇဝန | za1 wa1 na1 -- fast
ba1 ဘကုန်း | spelled as: Ba1 Kone3. Read as: Ba1 Gome3 as in ဘဝ | ba1 wa1 -- life story
ma1 မ | spelled as: Ma1. Read as: Ma1 as in မရမက | ma1 yah1 ma1 ka1 -- painstakingly try to get
ya1 ယပက်လက် | spelled as: Yah1 Pet let. Read as: Yah1 Pa1 Let as in ယမကာ | ya1 ma1 ka2 -- beverage
ya1 ရကောက် | spelled as: Yah1 Kout. Read as: Yah1 Gout as in ရသ | yah1 tha1 -- taste
la1 လ | spelled as: La1. Read as: La1 as in လခမရ | la1 kha1 ma1 ya1 -- no salary
wa1 ဝ | spelled as: Wa1. Read as: Wa1 as in ဝဝ | wah1 wah1 -- until satiated
tha1 သ | spelled as: Tha1. Read as: Tha1 as in သမ | tha1 ma1 -- to average out
ha1 ဟ | spelled as: Ha1. Read as: Ha1 as in အလဟဿ | a-la1 hah1 tha1 -- wasted
La1 ဠကြီး | spelled as: La1 Kji3. Read as: La1 Ji3 as in စကြဝဠာ | set kja2 wa1 la2 -- the Universe
ah1 အ | spelled as: Ah1. Read as: Ah1 as in အညတရ | a-nya1-ta1-ra1 -- unknown average person
NOTE: There is a slight difference in pronunciations of the sixth character
စ | Sa1 lone3 and the seventh character
ဆ |Hsa1 Lain2. The difference will be almost undetectable to the Westerners.
Hsa1 Lain2 has more hissing sound produced by the tip of the tongue touching the upper palate.
Consonant Modification Symbols
Although there are 33 characters, only about 25 have distinct consonant sounds. Burmese can have additional consonants such as
and "Cha1" using
Consonant Modification Symbols known as
ျ | Ya1-pin1 |
ယပင့် which is "j" shaped and appended at the lower right side of the character,
ြ | Ya1-yit |
ရရစ် which looks like a 3/4 of the rectangle with open end at the right side that surrounds the character,
ွ | Wa1-hsweare3 |
ဝဆွဲ which has "o" or triangle shape depending on the font type that goes below the character, and
ှ | Ha1-hto3 |
ဟထိုး which looks like a mirror image of "L" facing to the left side that goes under the character.
When used in combination with Wa1-hsweare3, it will only appear as a small dash or a tiny back slash to the left
of Wa1-hsweare3 like this: ဝွှ
Consonant Modification Symbols neither change the tone nor the vowel ending.
Characters remain in the first tone with the vowel "a". Both Ya1-yit
and Ya1-pin1 have the same consonant modification effects, and in combination with several characters which can have
the same sound, several spelling variations are possible. However, it will be encouraging to know that reading Burmese will be much
easier than writing with the correct spelling.
Note: Yellow background indicates consonants that are completely modified. Usage examples are
given in the right column.
NOTE: The example words and phrases on the right column of the above table make use of consonant modified words in their base form, i.e., Vowel 'A1',
from which they are further modified and shifted into different vowels and tones. The middle column shows all possible consonant variations in
the base "A1" form before tone change and before shifting into different vowels. For
single vowel 'A' words with tone variations before shifting into other vowels,
please see lesson 36.
Vowel Shift Symbols
Vowel shift symbols change the characters and partially modified words into different vowel endings sometimes accompanied by tone
change in the new vowel group.
ိ | lone3-ji3-tin2 |
ု | ta1-choun3-ngin2 |
် | thut |
ံ | thay3-thay3-tin2 |
ေ | thway2-hto3 |
ဲ | nout-pyit |
ာင် | yay3-cha1 + nga1 thut |
ရေးချ င သတ်
The following table shows the general format applicable to several words and it will help you to read the written words.
Writing needs a higher skill level as words with correct spelling must be learned through reading or from the dictionary.
Vowel Shift Symbols Table
Original form with vowel "a" in the 1st. tone : က ၊ ခ ၊ ဂ ၊ ဃ ၊ င - ka1-kha1-ga1-ga1-nga1
e (or) i
Use "o" shape Lone3-ji3-tin2 on top or Nya1-thut : သိ၊ သည် - thi1-dthi2
Use "L" shape Ta1-choun3-ngin2 at the bottom : ကု ၊ ခု ၊ စု ၊ ဆု ၊ တု ၊ ထု - ku1-khu1-su1-hsu1-tu1-htu1
Use "o" shape Lone3-ji3-tin2 on top + Ta1-choun3-ngin2 : ကို ၊ ခို ၊ ငို ၊ ဆို ၊ အို - ko2-kho2-ngo2-hso2-o2
Use upside down "e" shape Thway2-hto3 at the left : နေ၊ မေ၊ လေ၊ ရေ - nay2-may2-lay2-yay2
Modify tone with Yay3-cha1 on the right to get
"a2". Then use Thway2-hto3 at the left to get
"Au3". စော၊ တော၊ မော၊ လော - sau3-tau3-mau3-lau3
un (or) an
Na1-thut or Ma1-thut or Thay3-thay3-tin2 or
Na1-ji3-thut : ကန်၊ ကံ၊ ဆန်၊ ဘဏ် - kun2-kun2-hsun2-bun2
Use Nga1-thut or Nya1-ga1-lay3-thut or
Nga1-ga1-lay3-thut : ကင် ၊ စဉ် ၊ မင်္ဂလာ - kin2-sin2-min2-gla2
Use Nout-pyit to get
3rd. tone. Use Ya1-thut or Nya1-thut for
2nd. tone : ကဲ၊ ခဲ၊ မဲ၊ ကယ်၊ မယ်၊ လယ်၊ ဝယ်၊ လည်၊ တည် - keare3-kheare3-meare3-keare2-meare2-leare2-weare2-leare2-teare2
Use Lone3-ji3-tin2 + either
Ma1-thut or Na1-thut : စိန် ၊ ပိန် ၊ တိမ် ၊ အိမ် - sain2-pain2-tain2-ain2
Use Ta1-choun3-ngin2 +
Na1-thut or Na-ji3-thut or Thay3-thay3-tin2: ကုန်၊ ခုန်၊ ဂုဏ်၊ ဂုံ၊ ပုံ၊ လုံ၊ ယုံ - kone2-khone2-gome2-gome2-pone2-lone2-yone2
Modify consonant with
Wa1-hsweare3. Then use Na1-thut or Ma1-thut or
Thay-thay3-tin2 : ခွန်၊ စွန်၊ တွန်၊ မွန်၊ လွန်၊ နွံ - khoon2-soon2-toon2-moon2-loon2-noon2
Modify tone with
Yay3-cha1. Then Thway2-hto3 + Nga1-thut to get
"Oun2": ကောင်၊ ခေါင်၊ တောင်၊ မောင်၊ လောင်၊ အောင် - koun2-khoun2-toun2-moun2-loun2-oun2
Tone Change Symbols
The following table shows how the initial vowels in the base tones can be changed into other tones by
ါ (above or sideway like)
ာ | yay3-cha1 |
း | wit-sa1-pout |
ီ | hsun-khut |
ူ | hna1-choun3-ngin2 |
့ | out-myit |
The first tone is achieved in many vowels by adding a small dot under the character known as out-gah1-myit, or
out-myit | အောက်မြစ် .
The symbol that looks like a colon (:) called wit-sa1-pout or
wit-sa1-hna1-lone3-pout or shay1-gah1-pout at the right side of the character changes
the word into the third tone in many cases.
Tone Change Symbols Table
Tone Change Combinations
Use yay3-cha1: က → ကာ - Ka1-Ka2
Add wit-sa1-pout: ကာ → ကား - Ka2-Ka3
Use hsun2-khut: ကိ → ကီ - Ki1-Ki2
Add wit-sa1-pout: ကီ → ကီး - Ki2-Ki3
Use hna1-choun3-ngin2: ကု → ကူ - Ku1-Ku2
Add wit-sa1-pout: ကူ → ကူး - Ku2-Ku3
Use out-myit: ကို → ကို့ - Ko2-Ko1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကို → ကိုး - Ko2-Ko3
Use out-myit: ကေ → ကေ့ - Kay2-Kay1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကေ → ကေး - Kay2-Kay3
Use shay1-hto3 (thut symbol): ကော → ကော် - Kau3-Kau2
Use out-myit: ကော → ကော့ - Kau3-Kau1
Use out--myit: ကန် → ကန့် - Kun2-Kun1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကန် → ကန်း - Kun2-Kun3
Use out-myit: ကင် → ကင့် - Kin2-Kin1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကင် → ကင်း - Kin2-Kin3
Use out-myit: ကယ် → ကယ့် - Keare2-keare1
Use out-myit: ကဲ → ကဲ့ - Keare3-Keare1
Use out-myit: ကိန် → ကိန့် - Kain2-Kain1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကိန် → ကိန်း - Kain2-Kain3
Use out-myit: ကုန် → ကုန့် - Kone2-Kone1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကုန် → ကုန်း - Kone2-Kone3
Use out-myit: ကိုင် → ကိုင့် - Kine2-Kine1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကိုင် → ကိုင်း - Kine2-Kine3
Use out-myit: ကွန် → ကွန့် - Koon2-Koon1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကွန် → ကွန်း - Koon2-Koon3
Use out-myit: ကောင် → ကောင့် - Koun2-Koun1
Use wit-sa1-pout: ကောင် → ကောင်း - Koun2-Koun3
Single Tone Groups using (thut)
Variation in spellings and eight additional distinct sounds are possible using different
သတ် | thut that goes on top of different characters.
Thut looks like "c" or a small open bracket. Ta1 thut is the thut that goes on top the character "Ta1". Those are the common areas that spelling
mistakes are made.
Single Tones Table
Use Ta1-thut or
Pa1-thut: ကိတ် ၊ စိတ် ၊ ဖိတ် ၊ သိပ် ၊ လိပ် - Kate-Sate-Pfate-Thate-Late
Use Ta1-thut or
Pa1-thut : တတ် ၊ တပ် ၊ ထပ် ၊ အပ် - Tut-Tut-Htut-Ut
Use Ta1-choun3-ngin2 +
Ta1-thut or Pa1-thut : ကုတ် ၊ ခုပ် ၊ ထုတ် ၊ ထုပ် - Koat-Khoat-Htoat-Htoat
Use Sa1-thut: စစ်၊ ညစ်၊ တစ်၊ ပစ် -Sit-Nyit-Tit-Pyit
NOTE: When thut goes on top of the vowel au sounding words on top of
Yay3-cha1, it is called ရှေ့ထိုး |
shay1-hto3. Examples: ကော်၊ ဆော်၊ ဪ |
kau2, hsau2, au2.
Modern Closing Consonants using (thut)
Burmese doesn't have closing consonant sounds so, "Ice" would become "Ike". However, modern Burmese words append
Sa1-thut inside the brackets to
imitate the closing (s) sound. Similarly, it is possible to spell (ch) and (sh) endings to express foreign words. In some cases,
brackets are omitted. For example, "Ford" is spelled with an extra Da1-dway3-thut. "Web" in "Website" is spelled
with an extra Ba-gome3-thut.
Modern Closing Thuts Table
Thut with or without brackets
Append Sa1-thut as in "Facebook" : ဖေ့စ်ဘွတ်ခ် or just ဖေ့စ်ဘွတ်
Append Pfa1-thut : ဆော့ဖ်ဝဲ
Append Ya1 + Ha1-hto3 + thut : ဘင်္ဂလားဒေ့ရှ်
Append Ba1-gome3-thut: ဝက်ဘ်ဆိုက်
Append La1-thut: အီးမေး(လ်)
Append Ka1-thut + Sa1-thut: မေးလ်ဘောက်စ်
Append Pa1-thut : လက်ပ်တော့
Append Da1-dway3-thut : ဖို့ဒ်
Double Stacked Words : Thun2 Yoat Byi3 | သံယုဂ်ဗျည်း
Those are words with double-stacked characters in the middle. Dobule-stacked words are also called
pup-hsin1 | ပါဌ်ဆင့် where
pup | ပါဌ် means Pali word, and
hsin1 | ဆင့် means to stack up.
However, not all the double-stacked words are Pali words. Examples:
Usually, thut is omitted for the character on top. The character
below must then be brought up to the same level and combine with whatever that follows.
For example, in
La1" | ဗန္ဓုလ, Ba1 Da1-chite | ဗ + Na1-thut | န် spells
Bun2 | ဗန်.
However, in double-stacked word, lower part of Na1 Ngeare2 | န
and thut on top are missing.
For the second syllable, bring Da1 Out Chite | ဓ up and combine with
Ta1-choun3-ngin2 | ု to pronounce
"Du1 | ဓု.
This is followed by the third syllable La1 |
လ character itself.
bun2-du1-la1 | ဗန္ဓုလ = ဗန် + ဓု + လ
The character Na1 Ngeare2 | န as seen above, when double-stacked,
gets its lower part cut off. This is true regardless of whether it is on top or below. It is possible to have words with double-stacked
န both on top and below. Examples:
သန္နိဋ္ဌာန် | thun2-nate-htun2 : determination
ပန္နက် | pa1 net : The first foundation stone for the building
ပိန္နဲပင် | pain3-neare3 pin2 : Jackfruit tree
The character Da1-Yin2-Kout | ဍ must be rotated 90 degree
counter-clockwise when stacked under character the
Na1 ji3 | ဏ to appear like
ဏ္ဍ . Examples:
ကဏ္ဍ | kun2 da1: section; sector; episode
မဏ္ဍပ် | mun3 dut : temporary housing and stage used during celebrations such as in Burmese Water Festival
မဏ္ဍိုင် | mun2 dine2 : central foundation
ဘဏ္ဍာရေးနှစ် | bun2-da2 yay3 hnit : fiscal year
ပုဏ္ဍရိပ်ပင် | pone2-na1-yate pin2 :
a type of plant that grows like a bush
ဒဏ္ဍာရီ | dun2-da2-yi2 :
a fairy tale
The character Hta1-wun3-beare3 | ဌ must be rotated
90 degree clockwise when stacked under the character Na1-ji |
ဏ to appear like ဏ္ဌ . Example:
ပုံသဏ္ဌာန် | pone2-tha1-dun2 :
shape and appearance
It is possible to have Burmese words with more than one double-stacked characters in a sequence.
For example, အတ္ထုပ္ပတ္တိ | a-htoat-pup-ti1 means
The less common double-stacked words are those with ဇ on top and
ဈ at the bottom. Example:
myit-zi1-ma1 | မဇိ္ဈမ - middle as in
myit-zi1-ma1 ba1-di1-ba1-da2 | မဇိ္ဈမပဋိပဒါ -
The Middle Way (Buddhism).
A class of double-stacked words are formed with a superscript င် |
nga1-thut that goes on top of characters. This symbol is called
kin3-si3 | ကင်းစီး. Examples:
In some words like စကြဝဠာ | Set-kja2-wa1-la2,
which means the Universe, the word Ka1 is not double-stacked, but the effect is like a double-stacked word
with missing Ka1-thut. It is pronounced as (စက် + ကြာ + ဝ + ဠာ).
Here is an another word with the consonant modification symbol ya1-yit|
ြ taking its own role as well as the role of a
သောကြာနေ့ - Friday is read as
သောက် + ကြာ + နေ့.
When ယ | ya1-pet-let is stacked at the bottom, it
is represented by the consonant modification symbol ျ | ya1-pin1.
let-ya2 | လက္ယာ becomes
လက်ျာ - right-hand side.
u1-yin2 | ဥယ္ယာဉ် becomes
ဥယျာဉ် - garden.
double-stacked nya1-ka1-lay3 | ဉ combination is
represented by nya1 | ည. Example:
pyin2-nya2 | ပညာ - knowledge.
When two tha1 | သ are double-stacked together, it
simplifies to tha1-ji3 | ဿ. Example:
ma1-note-tha1 | မနုသ္သ simplifies to
ma1-note-tha1 | မနုဿ - human.
Stand-alone characters are not part of the main 33 alphabet (or character) system, but many of those are commonly used in standard official level
documents, newspapers, and in literature.
The following stand-alone characters cannot be combined with others and they are commonly used in the literary form.
၎င်း | La1-goun3 meaning
that or above-mentioned has the character
that looks like number 4 or
၄ | lay3 in Burmese
followed by Nga1-thut and
Shay1-ga1-pout | င်း.
Some font makers have considered this word as a single word, so it is faster to type it.
Additional Characters that behave almost like the main 33 Byi3
The following additional characters outside 33 Byi3 can be combined with Vowel Shift Symbols and
tone Change Symbols. According to my research, the difference between those characters and the main 33 Byi3 is that
they cannot be combined with Consonant Modification Symbols (Ya1 Pin1, Ya1 Yit, Wa1 Hsweare3, and Ha1 Hto3).
It has Pali roots ဣဿာ and
မစ္ဆရိယ. The first word is jealousy or
envy. Although Myanmar-English dictionary by the Myanmar Language Commission defines the second part as envy, it actually means
stingy as in ဝန်တို | woon2-toh2. It is "envy" in a sense one does not
want to give due credit to someone one is jealous of.
Official Burmese Vowels Tha1-ra1 သရ
"Vowel", by definition is a speech of sound made with the vocal tract open. In English, "A,E,I,O,U" are the vowels. In addition, in written English,
the words cannot be spelled without at least one vowel in them. (Exceptions: "by", "my") Burmese vowels
သရ | tha1-ra1 by definition is the same.
However, unlike English vowels, Burmese vowels သရ |
tha1-ra1 appear to have nothing to do with the system of writing as
compared to A,E,I,O,U. In addition, careful analysis will show that some of the possible vowel sounds in Burmese Language are missing, such as
အင် | In2
အိမ် | Ain2
အိုင် | Ine2
အုံ | Ome2
အွန် | Oon2
အောင် | Oun2
Further analysis shows that many of သရ |
tha1-ra1 sounds are just tone differences, such as Ah1 in the
first tone, Ah2 in the second tone;
E1 in the first tone and E2 in the second tone;
U1 in the first
tone and U2 in the second tone; Au3 in the third tone, and
Au2 in the second tone. In fact, there are only 8 vowel sounds with
tone differences out of 12.
Moreover, Tha1 ra1 သရ do not cover the eight single tone groups:
အိပ် | Ate
အက် | Et
အွတ် | Oot
အောက် | Out
အိုက် | Ike
အပ် | Ut
အုပ် | Oat
အစ် | It
Those eight distinct sounds are listed under the
150 သရ နှင့် အသတ်စဉ် |
Tha1-ra1 and A-thut Sin2 .
Burmese အသတ် | A-thut refers to "c" shaped "thut"
that goes on top of different characters to close the consonants
into different spellings. However, spellings with different A-thut may or may not fall into different phonetic
sounds. A-thut has no English equivalent, but can be considered as "vowel shift symbols". Several words formed with different
A-thut are homonyms (fall into the same phonetic groups) and redundant from the English romanization standpoint.
As for the native Burmese speakers, we learned those tone differences since grade 1 သူငယ်တန်းမြန်မာဖတ်စာ, but no official attempt was
made to romanize and standardize those similar to Chinese Hanyu Pinyin, and as a result, you will see all kind of variations online as well as in
publications which only add to confusion and mispronunciation of words.
I, therefore, found it necessary to re-group the 14 vowel sounds with three tones and separate those from the eight single tones group in English
Romanization with 1,2,3 Tone System. The system fully describes all possible Burmese vowel sounds and tones as follow:
Total sounds: (14 vowels *3 tones) + 8 single tones = 50
Different Interpretation of Tha1-ra1
Although the 12 traditional Burmese vowels Tha1-ra1, namely:
အ - အာ - ဣ - ဤ - ဥ - ဦ - ဧ - အဲ - ဩ - ဩော် - အံ - အို appear to have no linkage to the system of
writing as compared to the English vowels A,E,I,O,U, those Tha1-ra1 can be represented by
their variations: အ၊ အာ၊ အိ၊ အီ၊ အု၊ အူ၊ အေ၊ အဲ၊ အော၊ အော်၊ အံ၊ အို. According to this
line of thought, it is possible
for the Tha1-ra1 to become the base for all possible vowel sounds using different thut.
Tha1-ra1 base plus different A-thut
အ၊ အော၊ အို - Ah1-Au3-O2
အက်၊ အောက်၊ အိုက် - Et-Out-Ike
အ၊ အော၊ အို - Ah1-Au3-O2
အင်၊ အောင်၊ အိုင် - In2-Oun2-Ine2
အ - Ah1
အစ် - It
အ၊ အိ၊ အု - Ah1-E1-U1
အတ်၊ အိတ်၊ အုတ် - Ut-Ate-Oat
အ၊ အိ၊ အု - Ah1-E1-U1
အန်၊ အိန်၊ အုန် - Un2-Ain2-Ome2
အ - Ah1
အယ် - Eare2
It is possible to add tone variations to the row 2 and row 5 of the above table.
The system has missing vowel group အွန့်၊ အွန်၊ အွန်း |
oon1, oon2, oon3 as well as a single tone အွတ် (အွပ်) |
oot group. In comparison, all the possible vowel sounds and tones
are covered more efficiently with 1,2,3 tone system consists of 14 vowel sounds each with 3 tones plus 8 single tones.
Many words with Pali roots are exclusively used by the Buddhist monks and students learned under the umbrella of Buddhism, and those words remain
in the domain of Buddhist prayers and literature. The best teachers will be the abbots in the monasteries. Here's a sample of universal Buddhist prayer in Pali..
Christian Holy Bible in Burmese ( မြန်မာဘာသာပြန်ခရိယာန်သမ္မာကျမ်းစာ )
During the time of Burmese Kone3-Boun2 dynasty | ကုန်းဘောင်ခေတ်
American missionary Adoniram Judson | ဒေါက်တာယုဒဿန် (1788-1850) was much credited for coming up
with Burmese Pali dictionary, Burmese English dictionary (1887) published
after his death by American Baptist Mission Press and needless to say, the translation of the Holy Bible:
New Testament in Burmese (1832).
Here is the original sample page of passage from Matthew 6:9-13 | မဿဲ ၆ : ၉-၁၃ in Burmese.
9Our Father who is in heaven,
Your name be kept holy. 10Your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as in heaven. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation but
deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever.
COMMENTS: "daily bread" was translated into Burmese as "sufficient food to maintain the livelihood". In some versions of the Bible,
the words "trespass" and "trespassers" are used in place of "debts" and "debtors", which is correctly translated in the above Burmese version.
The Last Word on Myanmar Script
Unless you are a scholar who specializes in this field, or a long-term visitor in Myanmar who must know more, just a couple of hours of study should
be good enough to get the general idea and be able to spell Burmese words on your own after referring back to the learning guide. Good luck!