Asia Pearl Travels Logo
Inle Lake gulls
The Free Online Burmese Lessons
Learn Myanmar Language, History & Culture
Myanmar — The Land of the Fast and the Strong
Myanmar flag

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.





search

Looking for a word?

SEARCH MYANMAR WORDS IN ENTIRE MYANMAR LANGUAGE LESSONS.



Powered by Google Custom Search Engine.


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

Top or Down the Street?

Unlike English or Mandarin Chinese speakers, people in Yangon don't often use North, East, South, West to tell directions. For example, If I tell the taxi driver to go to the 46th Street in downtown Yangon, the driver will ask, a-pau2 lun3 la3 MP3 Audio File (top of the street ?) or out lun3 la3 MP3 Audio File (down the street?), where a-pau2, MP3 Audio File meaning "on top" refers to North and out MP3 Audio File meaning "under" refers to the South.

On the other hand, people in Mandalay speak of the left side of the body as myout MP3 Audio File (North), and right side of the body as toun2 MP3 Audio File (south). So, when the doctor asks the patient which side hurts, the patient will reply either "North" or "South".

Summary of Words and Phrases in this lesson
<< AUDIO >> English
a-khway2 DVD tape, etc..
a-khway2 dway2 tapes
a-leare2 dun3 middle school
a-leare2 hma2 in the middle
a-leare2 htut hma2 at the mid floor
a-hteare3 hma2 inside
ain2 hteare3 hma2 inside the house
a-khan3 hteare3 hma2 inside the room
a-nout back, West
a-nout hma2 at the back
a-nout hsoat move back
a-pau2 hma2 up there!
a-pau2 htut hma2 upstairs
a-pau2 htut tet ja1 zo1 Let's go upstairs.
a-pau2 htut tet yah1 meare2 need to go upstairs.
a-pau2 tet go up
a-pau2-zone3 a-hsin1 the top shelf
a-pau2-zone3 a-hsin1 hma2 on the top shelf
a-pau2-zone3 hma2 at the uppermost level
a-pau2-zone3 htut hma2 on the top floor
a-pyin2 hma2 outside
a-pyin2 htwet thwa3 deare2 xxxx went out.
a-pyin2 thwa3 meare2 I am going out.
a-shay1 front, East
a-shay1 hma2 in front
a-shay1 toe3 move forward
ate hteare3 hma2 inside the bag
beare2 bet a-soon2-zone3 hma2 At the extreme left
beare2-bet doun1 at the left corner
beare2-bet hma2 On your left
beare2-bet kway1 Turn left
chan2 hteare3 hma2 in the backyard
hma2 at, in, on
ho3! Halt!
hsa1-ya2-ji3 big master
hsin3 meare2 I'm going down.
hsoat, hsoat OK to reverse the car
ka3 hteare3 hma2 inside the car
ka3 pau2 tet go inside the car!
kji1 ba2 ome3 take a look; watch
lite ma1 la3 Are you coming along?
lun3 doun1 hma2 at the street corner
lun3 pau2 hma2 on the road
ma1 weare2 thay3 bu3 not buying this time.
mya3 deare2 too much
myout North
nya2-bet a-soon2-zone3 At the extreme right
nya2-bet doun1 right corner
nya2-bet hma2 On your right
nya2-bet kway1 Turn right!
out hma2 down there!
out htut hma2 downstairs
out hsin3 meare2 going downstairs
out hsin3 yah1 meare2 need to go down
out-hsone3 hma2 at the lowest level
teare1 teare1 straight ahead
teare1 teare1 hma2 located straight ahead
teare1 teare1 hsoat back up straight!
teare1 teare1 thwa3 go straight ahead
tet to go up
thit pin2 tet climb the tree
thit-pin2 pau2 hma2 in the tree
toun2 mountain
toun2 South
toun2 pau2 tet climb the mountain
xxxx beare3 pay3 ba2 Pay me only xxxx.
xxxx leare3 ma1 la3 Want to exchange xxxx?
xxxx loat ba2 Please make it xxxx.
za1-bweare3 pau2 on the table

Lesson 5: Locations and Directions

So far, we have been building up on the basic Burmese sentence constructions and learning some Burmese culture along the way. You will not be speaking true Burmese if you attempt to make a direct translation from an another language using a dictionary.

Deep inside each of us, there are universal human feelings, emotions, wants, needs, likes and dislikes. Those primary direct experiences from the within seem to exist even if we don't use any words to describe them. We use language to code and decode those fundamentals so that we can communicate with the others. After coding those "inner feelings" into words, however, the direct translation of words into an another language using a dictionary doesn't always fully capture the original "inner experiences" that we would like to articulate. Why?

Maybe that's because our usage of the words depends on how we see the world, our attitudes, how we relate to each other, our way of life and daily activities, the weather and the environment, what we consider as appropriate or inappropriate, important or not important; and they are different from culture to culture.

When a neighbor greets me: beare2 leare3 MP3 Audio File -- Go where? (where + ?), I doubt that he is really interested in where I am going, just like when you say "How are you?", you say it without thinking too deeply about the state of well-being of the other person.

But, there is something more fundamental -- that "inner feeling" and "intention" behind that greeting. Here, you want to express your friendliness, and also to some degree you feel awkward if you don't say something that the society expects you to say. Since this is the case, the two greetings are equivalent in terms of "inner feelings".

That is why I have been using two translations side by side: "inner feeling" as well as direct translation word by word so that you can grasp both the overall feeling tone and meaning of each word in the sentence.

So, now beare2 leare3 -- Where to? This interesting video clip suggests some exciting places to go -- places so fun-filled and thrilling that had the late Michael Jackson, the king of pop known about those places, he would have brought his throne over to Myanmar and taken the front row. The phrase starts with the name of the place and ends with thwa3 meare2 -- will go. Another word you will recognize is the word "hote" meaning "yes", but in this case, it is used as a question: "Isn't it?"

Where to?

So, now ဘယ်လဲ | beare2 leare3 -- Where to? This interesting video clip suggests some exciting places to go -- places so fun-filled and thrilling that had the late Michael Jackson, the king of pop known about those places, he would have brought his throne over to Myanmar and took the front row. The phrase starts with the name of the place and ends with သွားမယ် | thwa3 meare2 -- will go. Another word you will recognize is the word ဟုတ် | "hote" meaning "yes", but in this case, it is used as a question: "Isn't it?" Helay | ဟဲလေး | heare3 lay3 [50 seconds]

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Saturday, June 4, 2016
Helay | ဟဲလေး | heare3 lay3

Straight in front

teare1-teare1 -- straight (adverb) as opposed to teare1 - straight (adjective)

teare1-teare1 hma2 -- (It's) located straight ahead. (straight + postpositional marker)

teare1-teare1 thwa3 -- Go straight ahead. (straight + go)

a-shay1 hma2 -- (It's) in front. (front + postpositional marker)

a-shay1 toe3 -- Move forward. (front + inch forward)

At the back

a-nout hma2 -- (It's) at the back (back + postpositional marker)

a-nout hsoat -- Move back; reverse the car (back + retreat)

hsoat, hsoat, hsoat -- Parking attendant telling the driver it's OK to reverse. (retreat + retreat + retreat)

teare1-teare1 hsoat ... teare1-teare1 hsoat -- Parking attendant telling the driver to back up straight.

ho3! -- Parking attendant telling the driver to stop. (Derived from either the English word: "halt" or Hindi word "Hoe".)

Myanmar Grammar Notes: Myanmar-English dictionary by the Myanmar Language Commission defines ho3! as an interjection. However, it should be noted that it can also be a single word command similar to thwa3 - Go! In colloquial Burmese, people often use it as a verb. For example, very common phrase ho3-hta3 is used to tell the driver to stop there and not to release the brakes.

Go up

a-pau2 hma2 -- (It's) up there. (up + postpositional marker)

a-pau2-zone3 hma2 -- (It's) at the uppermost level. (up + extreme position + postpositional marker)

a-pau2 htut hma2 -- (It's) upstairs. (up + floor or level used as a numerical classifier + postpositional marker)

a-pau2-zone3 htut hma2 -- (It's) on the top floor. (up + extreme position + floor or level used as a numerical classifier + postpositional marker)

a-pau2-zone3 a-hsin1 hma2 -- (It's) on the top shelf. (up + extreme position + "shelf" used as a numerical classifier + postpositional marker)

za1-bweare3 pau2 hma2 -- (It's) on the table. (table + short form of "a-pau2" used as a postpositional marker equivalent to the preposition "on" + postpositional marker "at")

lun3 pau2 hma2 -- (It's) on the road. (road + on + postpositional marker "at")

thit-pin2 pau2 hma2 -- (It's) in the tree. (tree + on + postpositional marker "at")

a-pau2 tet -- Go up! (up + climb)

toun2 pau2 tet -- Climb the mountain. (mountain + up + climb)

thit-pin2 tet -- Climb the tree. (tree + climb)

ka3 pau2 tet -- Go inside the car! (car + on top + climb) No, it doesn't mean go up the roof of the car! In the old days, people used to go up the cart pulled by two bullocks; there is no "inside" of the cart to speak of.

tet ome3 .. tet ome3 -- Bus ticket conductor saying people are still going up (or) telling people to go up. It's hard to say whether he is talking to himself, to the passengers, or to the driver. (climb + "do this action first")

a-pau2 htut tet yah1 meare2 -- (You / We) need to go upstairs. (up + floor or level + climb + obtain + going to)

a-pau2 htut tet ja1 zo1 -- Let's go upstairs. (up + floor or level + climb + let's)

Note: Extreme position is spelled "hsone3". For some words, it is pronounced "zone3".

Down there!

out hma2 -- (It's) down there. (down + postpositional marker)

out-hsone3 hma2 -- (It's) at the lowest level. (down + extreme position + postpositional marker)

out-htut hma2 -- (It's) downstairs. (down + floor or level + postpositional marker)

out hsin3 meare2 -- go down as in "I am going downstairs." (down + go down / alight from vehicle + going to)

out hsin3 yah1 meare2 -- (You) need to go down. (down + go down + obtain + going to)

hsin3 meare2 -- go down as in "I am going down from the bus." (go down + going to)

On the public bus in Yangon

hsin3 dau1 .. hsin3 dau1 -- Bus ticket conductor telling people to get down. (go down + about time)

hsin3 dome3 .. hsin3 dome3 -- Bus ticket conductor telling the driver people are still going down.(go down + still in the action)

Why doubling and repeating words? Probably because of the noise level in the busy city center, words need to be repeated to be heard. In comparison, in Bahasa Malaysia or Indonesia, words are repeated to make them plural. For example, "Orang, orang" for people where "orang" stands for a single man in Malay/Indonesian language. In Mandarin Chinese, words are sometimes doubled up for different reasons. "Ke3 yi.. Ke3 yi" to stress from "can" to a more enthusiastic "Of course, you can.."

The middle way

a-leare2 hma2 -- in the middle. (middle + postpositional marker)

a-leare2 htut hma2 -- on the 2nd level of 3 storey building. (middle + floor or level + postpositional marker)

a-leare2 dun3 -- middle school; junior high. (middle + class/form/grade)

On your right

nya2 bet hma2 -- On your right. (right + direction + postpositional marker)

nya2 bet kway1 -- Turn right! (right + direction + turn)

nya2 bet a-soon2-zone3 hma2 -- At the extreme right position.(right + direction + extreme position + postpositional marker)

The corner

nya2 bet doun1 -- at the right corner, as in soccer corner kick. (right + direction + corner)

lun3 doun1 hma2 -- in the street corner. (road + corner + postpositional marker)

Left side

beare2 bet hma2 -- On your left (left + direction + postpositional marker)

beare2 bet kway1 -- Turn left (left + direction + turn)

beare2 bet a-soon2-zone3 hma2 -- at the extreme left position. (left + direction + extreme position + postpositional marker)

beare2 bet doun1 -- at the left corner, as in soccer corner kick. (left + direction + corner)

Going out

a-pyin2 hma2 -- outside. (outside + postpositional marker)

a-pyin2 thwa3 meare2 -- go out as in "I am going out." (outside + go + going to)

a-pyin2 htwet thwa3 deare2 -- go out as in "He went out." (outside + exit + go + affirmative)

Inside

a-hteare3 hma2 -- inside. (inside + postpositional marker)

a-khan3-hteare3 hma2 -- inside the room. (room + inside + postpositional marker)

ain2-hteare3 hma2 -- inside the house. (house + inside + postpositional marker)

ate-hteare3 hma2 -- inside the bag. (bag + inside + postpositional marker)

ka3-hteare3 hma2 -- inside the car. (car + inside + postpositional marker)

chan2-hteare3 hma2 -- in the backyard. ( backyard where you grow vegetables or raise livestocks + inside + postpositional marker)

hma2 is a Burmese counterpart of the postpositional marker "Zai4" in Mandarin Chinese. English equivalent words are the prepositions "at", "in", "on", etc.. hteare3 from the word a-hteare3 meaning "inside" is used as suffix to nouns. It is a postpositional marker in Burmese grammar as well.

North, East, South, West

a-shay1 -- East. (same meaning as "the front")

a-nout -- West. (same meaning as "the back")

toun2 -- South.

myout -- North.

A Tourist Story

Taxi driver:

hsa1-ya2 -- Sir
beare2 -- where
thwa3 -- go
ma1 leare3 -- ? ( spoken form of "hma2" meaning "at" + ?)

hsa1-ya2 beare2 thwa3 ma1 leare3 -- Where are you going, Sir?

Tourist:

hsu3-lay2 -- Sule Pagoda
lite -- to come along
ma1 la3 -- ? ( spoken form of "hma2" meaning "at" + ?)

hsu3-lay2 lite ma1 la3 -- Sule Pagoda, are you going?

Note: Sometimes taxi drivers may refuse to go to routes that are not profitable. If he takes the passenger to the remote part of the Greater Yangon City, he may not find an another passenger on his way back to the busy part of the town. So,"lite" is like saying, "That's where I am heading. Are you coming along?"

Alternatively, you can say,

hsu3-lay2 beare2-lout leare3 : "How much to Sule?"

How much to Sule Pagoda?

Taxi driver after scratching his head:

thone3 htoun2 -- 3,000
beare3 -- only; just
pay3 -- to give
ba2 -- polite

thone3 htoun2 beare3 pay3 ba2 -- Pay me only 3,000.

Tourist :

ha2... -- C'mon
thone3 htoun2 -- 3,000
mya3 -- too much
deare2 -- ending word.

ha2... thone3 htoun2 mya3 deare2 -- C'mon... 3,000 is too much.

Tourist continues:

hna1 htoun2 -- 2,000
loat -- to make or to do
ba2 -- polite suggestion.

hna1 htoun2 loat ba2 -- Please make it 2,000.

Taxi driver scratches his head again, thinks about it for a while, and gestures towards the back seat:

Tet, Tet.. Alright, have a seat.. ( go up + go up )

The Toyota taxi (recently imported new model) is modified to run by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). After about 15 minutes drive, the taxi stops in front of the parking lot near Sule Pagoda.

The tourist had studied the map of down-town Yangon the night before, but now he is a bit confused as to which road around the Sule Pagoda he should be heading. He decides to ask for direction with his recently-acquired knowledge of Burmese language he learned from some Internet website.

People in Yangon must be very friendly. Someone approaches to him first even before he asks for help. Let's see what this friendly Myanmar man has to say.

Friendly Myanmar Man :

hsa1-ya2-ji3, -- Big Master (master + big)
dau2-la2 -- dollar
leare3 -- to exchange
ma1 la3 -- ? ( spoken form of "hma2" meaning "at" + ?)

hsa1-ya2-ji3, dau2-la2 leare3 ma1 la3 -- "Do you want to exchange dollar, big master?", the man in traditional lone2 ji2 (sarong) asks the tourist.

The tourist has never heard of this kind of greeting before. He decides that he will exchange a conversation with this friendly Burmese man.

Nearby street vendor quickly takes advantage of the fact that the tourist can speak a pretty good Burmese, with the right tone and all.

Street Vendor :

a-khway2 -- tapes, VCD, DVD etc.
dway2 -- plural
kji1 -- to watch
ba2 ome3 -- polite suggestion

a-khway2 dway2 kji1 ba2 ome3 -- "Won't you watch movies?" The street vendor helds up a transparent plastic VCD cover with interesting color print inside.

ta1-khway2 -- one tape (one + tape)
nga3 ya2 -- 500
ba2 -- polite ending word.

ta1-khway2 nga3 ya2 ba2 -- "500 kyat each", he says in a salesman pitch.

Tourist :

ma1 -- not
weare2 -- buy
thay3 -- yet to be; not yet
bu3 -- negative ending

ma1 weare2 thay3 bu3 -- Not buying this time!

The Adventure of the tourist continues in lesson 6.

Footnote:

United Amara Bank ATM in Yangon

June 2012 update: You will be seeing less and less of street-vendors in downtown yangon. Commercial banks have now replaced the illegal money exchangers of the past. You can use ATM to withdraw local currency in Kyats if you have foreign-issued credit or debit cards with Visa and MasterCard Networks.

The new civilian government has started to clean up the congested side-walks in the streets of downtown Yangon. New shops and buildings are slowly replacing the old. You will now see luxury vehicles on the road after import permits were issued in September 2011.

March 2014 update: The above photo with Sule Pagoda in the background was added.

May 2015 update: This photo of United Amara Bank ATM machine at Bargayar Street, Myaynigone, Yangon.

January 2016 update: Street vendors are back due to lack of enforcement. Expect traffic jams in day time.

January 2017 update: On January 16, 2017 a new bus system with new numbers were introduced in Yangon. See the routes with all the bus stops and detailed maps at www.yangonbus.com.