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Emoticons in Burmese Spoken Words

Singaporeans and Malaysians have one-syllable ending word "lah" and Canadians have "Eh". So, Canadians have that too, eh? (pronounced "A") When you first hear such a word, you kind of understand what it means from the context of the conversation, although you don't quite know how to translate it.

Colloquial Burmese Language has several of those ending words with different meanings. This lesson demystifies those simple one-syllable words. Interesting, huh?

We have gone through quite a lot of single-syllable ending words in the previous lesson. Here, we will review some of those with more examples and introduce to you a different type of ending words. This mystery type not well documented and not usually taught to the outside world adds an extra dimension of feeling, emotions, and "humanness" to the spoken words just like emoticons that people use online. think

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"Emoticon" ending words are different in that they are extra words to the sentence. That means a complete sentence can still be made without adding those words.

Polite "ba2" word

The word ba2 can be extra polite word, or both polite and part of the sentence structure like in the greeting

min2-ga1-la2 ba2.

If someone asks..

"Do you want it?", or "Do you like it?", with simple verb in the question, I can reply with a simple "yes" without including ba2.

hote MP3 Audio File (or)

hote-keare1 MP3 Audio FileYes

Similarly, for simple questions with adjective such as "Is it hot?" or "Is it sweet?", I can reply with a simple "yes" without including ba2.

hote (or)

hote-keare1 (or)

hote-keare1, pu2 deare2 MP3 Audio File"Yes, it's hot"

where pu2 means "hot" and deare2 is the affirmative ending word.

In such cases, both the question and the answer sound natural only if ba2 is dropped.

However, if someone makes a request or suggestion: "Please do this!", I can add an extra polite ba2. My response can be

hote (or)

hote-keare1 (or)

hote-keare1 ba2. MP3 Audio File polite

Myanmar Grammar Notes: hote is a verb "to be correct". However, hote-keare1 is a particle. The modern usage of hote as a short form of hote-keare1 has not made it into the dictionary yet, although it is a popular usage nowadays.

When to use "ba2" in questions and answers

"Yes" with ba2 at the end of the sentence is a polite response to a request or suggestion that is not commonly used in "red or not red", "hot or not hot", "want or not want" type of questions and answers.

Nobody will answer:

pu2 ba2 deare2It's hot

with ba2 to a simple "Is it hot?" question.

Well, not in casual everyday conversation. Waiters might be more polite in asking question to the VIPs. Students might be more polite to teachers.

Likewise, simple questions like those will also be without ba2 word.

Question: pu2 la3 MP3 Audio FileIs it hot?

Answer: pu2 deare2 MP3 Audio FileYes.

Question: Today is Tuesday, isn't it?

Answer: Hote deare2Yes.

The word ba2 is more personal and not about impersonal objects or the weather in both questions and answers. To the question

555-8888 ba2 la3Is this 555-8888? (or)

nine2 tin2-nyoon1-pu1 ba2 la3Is this Naing Tinnyuntpu ?

I will answer:

hote ba2 deare2 MP3 Audio File

with the slightly raised 3rd tone ending over the phone.

The polite personal question

ba2 la3 is responded with the polite answer

ba2 deare2. polite answer

Warm feeling of "nau2" ending

At the end of lesson 2a, I used

thwa3 ome3 meare2 nau2 MP3 Audio File

Got to go now!

(go + indication of intention + warm feeling tone)

Actually, it's not a light-hearted "Got to go now!" in English without any feeling in it.

nau2 MP3 Audio File

has some magic of warmth and closeness in it. It is as though, I am about to part with someone close. I don't really want to go, but I must. And I am asking for permission to go. sad to go

If someone says: "Hey, look at the sky! It's turning orange and red", I will not just say

hote deare2.

The reply "yes" with

nau2 MP3 Audio File

makes all the difference.

hote deare2 nau2 surprise MP3 Audio File

Hey, you are right.. what you say is true.

Do you see how this "yes" with nau2 makes the difference? In this context, it adds the feeling tone of awe and amazement over the observation to the simple "yes". It has a kind of emotional bonding effect with which you share your candid opinion or deep inner feelings.

Burmese ending word "nau2"

What does the ending word (နော် | nau2) mean in the Burmese language? Here's 31 seconds clip on the usage.

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Mi Sandi | မိစန္ဒီ | mi1 sun2 di2 & Jade Dragon Dance Group

So, I say:

thwa3 ome3 meare2 nau2 MP3 Audio FileGot to go

to someone close or someone I just made friend with. I can have shorter or longer variations of the same sentence.

thwa3 lite ome3 meare2 nau2 MP3 Audio File

as in "I am going to the corner store and will be back," or

thwa3 meare2 nau2 good-bye MP3 Audio File

Shorter but more emotional as in "I don't know when I will see you again."

Well, it's not always necessary to have nau2 to be emotional.

thwa3 meare2 don't say good bye MP3 Audio File"Good-bye!"

This is even shorter because words are stuck and Lashio Thein Aung's Song "Don't say goodbye" is playing in the background.

Going to review "meare2" ending

meare2 MP3 Audio File

is a postpositional marker meaning "going to". It transforms the activity word (verb) into future tense. Although it is an ending word, the difference is it is part of the sentence structure, and not an extra "emoticon" word.

sa3 meare2 MP3 Audio Filegoing to eat.

Short sentence, not because I am sad, but too hungry to be verbose.

sa3 ja1 meare2.. sa3 ja1 meare2 MP3 Audio File

Let's eat! Let's eat! (eat + plural + going to)

Mandarin Chinese equivalent would be "Chi1 fan4.. Chi1 fan4"

loat meare2 MP3 Audio FileI will do it. (do + going to)

Please do your work!!

hote-keare1 ba2... loat meare2 MP3 Audio File

OK, Ok.. I will do it.. (yes + soften the tone + do + going to)

OK, I "meare2"

meare2 MP3 Audio File

could also be used to express a simple "OK" to "or not" type of questions.

For example,

sa3 ma1-la3

Do you want to eat or not? (eat + will + ?)

sa3 meare2OK!

thwa3 ma1-la3

Do you want to go or not? (go + will + ?)

thwa3 meare2OK!

ga1-za3 ma1-la3

Do you want to play or not? (play + will + ?)

ga1-za3 meare2OK!

na3 ma1-la3

Do you want to rest or not? (rest + will + ?)

na3 meare2OK!

When thwa3 meare2

is the answer to the question

thwa3 ma1-la3,

it's not a good-bye. It could be a situation where the two persons in the conversation are about to go out together.

Let's learn about "ja1 zo1" ending

sa3 ja1 zo1

Another variation of Let's eat! But, it is in a sense, "It's about time we eat." I may or may not be hungry. It is a routine and there is not much urgency in it.

ja1 zo1 MP3 Audio File means "Let's".

thwa3 ja1 zo1Let's go! (It's about time we go home.)

pyay3 ja1 zo1 Let's run!Let's run!

It's about time we run.. Here comes the debt collector! I guess in this case, there is definitely some urgency in it. big smile

Impatient with unsatisfactory "kwa2" ending

Now, let me show you how I can say the same "Let's go!" in an impatient, frustrated or unsatisfactory tone using

kwa2. MP3 Audio File

I take you to a hotel lobby where someone is supposed to meet us. The person doesn't show up after waiting for a good one hour....

thwa3 meare2 kwa2 frustrated

Fed up and I say "Let's go" in an angry tone.. (go + going to + impatient tone)

Someone is repeatedly telling me not to do something without explaining why. I find him very unreasonable. I tell my friend, I don't care what the man says...

loat meare2 kwa2

I am going to do it, anyway.. (do + going to + unsatisfactory tone)

And I silently say to myself, "What the heck..."

loat deare2 kwa2

(do + affirmative + unsatisfactory tone) in the midst of doing it.

Don't eat that. The food is for the Supernatural beings in the Realm of Immaterial World, says the wife.

Husband: What? I haven't eaten in seven days and you are telling me the chicken is for the Nuts (Supernatural Beings) that I can't even see?

sa3 deare2 kwa2

he says angrily with a drum-stick in his mouth. (eat + affirmative + unsatisfactory tone)

Don't forget the "neare1" ending

But, how would you tell someone not to do, eat, or go in the first place?

How to say "Don't" in Burmese

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Tuesday, May 3, 2016
မိုးဟေကို | Moe Hay Ko & Star International Dance Group. 5 feet 7 inch (1.70m) tall Moe Hay Ko was born on June 26, 1985 in Mandalay. She is an Actress, Model, Producer, and Businesswoman. In the above video clip, she is telling you not to play games with her.

ma1-sa3 ba2 neare1 MP3 Audio File

Please don't eat. (negative + eat + suggestion + negative imperative ending)

ma1-thwa3 ba2 neare1 MP3 Audio File

Please don't go. (negative + go + suggestion + negative imperative ending)

ma1-loat ba2 neare1 MP3 Audio File

Please don't do it. (negative + do + suggestion + negative imperative ending)

If you are a bit short-tempered at the time, you may drop the suggestion "ba2" to give a more direct order:

ma1-sa3 neare1 (negative + eat + negative imperative ending)

ma1-thwa3 neare1 (negative + go + negative imperative ending)

ma1-loat neare1 (negative + do + negative imperative ending)

ma1-loat neare1 hso2-nay2-hma1 Why still do?

Why are you keep doing it when I am telling you not to do it?

(negative + do + negative imperative + "despite saying so")

Didn't you say "hso2"?

In Burmese, the word

hso2 MP3 Audio File

can have several meaning including "to say", "to sing" and "to nag".

It can be used as a particle at the end of the verb phrase to mean "Didn't you say... ?" If someone tells you earlier that he is going somewhere, but you find him watching TV, you can say...

thwa3 — go

meare2 — will; intention to do something

hso2 — Didn't you say?

thwa3 meare2 hso2 Didn't you say?

Didn't you say you were going?

When you say this ending word hso2, try to prolong it and raise it to the third tone hso3

Express your condolence with sympathetic "kweare2" ending

How about a sympathetic tone? A young woman is telling her grandmother how lousy her day has been. Grandma cannot do anything to help but only give comforting words and consolation through sympathy.

ay3 kweare2 sympathySo sorry to hear that.

kweare2 MP3 Audio File

conveys a sympathetic tone to the sentence.

Some cold truth about abrupt "ay3" ending

ay3 MP3 Audio File

is an another form of "yes".

Question: a-dau2 ji3...Big Aunty.. (aunty + big)

"Someone told me your husband left you for a younger woman, is that true?"

Answer: Ay3 taken aback with anger

Taken aback and admits "yes" with puzzlement as she ponders for a moment as to how on earth did he find out about it. With a shortest possible reply, conversation is ended just like that.

If you are a bit tired of hearing someone repeatedly complaining, or reminding you to bring back gifts, or lecturing you on the health benefits of organic food, you may interrupt and try to end the conversation by

ay3, ay3, ay3 (or)

ay3 ba2 Ay3 ba2

I must also add that Ay3 is too informal and impolite to be used among strangers. However, it is OK to be used among buddies and cousins or by older persons to younger people that they know well.

Pay attention to ending words in this ending story

The old Grandma seems to have a good heart. Her grandson is about to beat up a thief who broke into the house.

The Grandma says:

ma1 — negative

loat — do

ba2 — soften tone

neare1 — negative imperative

kweare2 — sympathy

ma1-loat ba2 neare1 kweare2 have mercy on him

Please don't do it. Have mercy on him...

The neighbor joins in. "Hey, that's the same fella who stole my bike. Let's beat him up.."

cha1 kwa1... cha1 kwa1 fight, fight

"fight! fight!..", cheer on the youngsters.

(fight + show of enthusiasm and delight)

Note the tone difference: kwa1 in the first tone is used to express delight; kwa2 in the second tone is used to express dissatisfaction.

ma1-loat ja1 ba2 neare1 kweare2... have pity on him

(negative + do + plural + soft tone of suggestion + negative imperative + sympathy)

ma1-loat ja1 ba2 neare1

Note the plural term "ja1" to mean "Please you guys, have mercy on him.."

tha1-na3 ba2 deare2

I feel pity for him.

(feel pity + soft suggestion + affirmative)

tha1-na3 ba2 deare2 kweare2

a stronger expression of pity by adding sympathy.

Can we use impatient, unsatisfactory ending kwa2 with pity feeling? Those two seem to be polar opposites.

Yes, we can!...(I say confidently just like Obama.)

tha1-na3 ba2 deare2 kwa2

(feel pity + soft suggestion + affirmative + dissatisfied tone)

I feel pity for the victim, and at the same time express my disagreement for the injustice being done with the tone of unsatisfactoriness.

Look at those savages beating up a helpless victim. How cruel!

ay3 bya2 ay3 bya2

"Yes, I couldn't agree with you more," says a bystander who is a middle-age man.

hote deare2 bya2

the second man echoed..

hote deare2 shin1

yes, they are just like that...his wife concurred.

ay3 lay2... murmurs an another.

They all agreed to the same thing by saying "yes", but the ending


is masculine to be uttered by male speakers while


is feminine expression used by female speakers.

Ay1 lay2

is the same "yes" in murmuring tone, but gender-neutral and can be used by both sexes. It is an exact equivalent of Singaporean "Yah lah.." and somewhat close to "Right!" or "Absolutely!" in English.

The situation soon gets ugly, and the police arrives...

I will construct a very expressive sentence using combinations of simple one-syllable words— most of them already discussed previously.

keare3... koun3 ja1 thay3 yeare1 la3 keare3

"Look at the mess! Tell me... What do you people have to say now?"

("OK now you people..." + good + plural + yet to be + concern + ?)

So, as you can see, Burmese language has short and yet powerful and emotionally-loaded expressions. I will use one of my favorite expressions to end this lesson.

The funny expression is from the comics invented by the late Burmese cartoonist named Aung Shain (pronounced Oun2 Shain2) to end his comics.

The English equivalent is "The End". It literally means enough + yet to be + already.

The reason why it is funny is because you don't expect to hear the last two combination of negative and positive pairs, and end up wondering if you really have had enough or not.

tau2 thay3 byi2 The end

Color Codes: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, particles, postpositional markers, interjections.

Read this page with Myanmar Script

Hote deare2 hote? MP3 Audio File

That was an interesting phrase used by the Burmese cartoonist named moun2 wa1-na1 for the character tha1-main2 pau3 thoot. It means,

"Yes or not?"

Mandarin Chinese equivalent would be Shi4 bu shi4?

In some parts of Myanmar, people speaks in dialects that are slightly different from the mainstream Burmese. For example,

koun3 hma1 koun3 MP3 Audio File


"It's so good!"

emphasizes on koun3, which means "good".

Lashio Thein Aung's Song: "Don't Say Goodbye"

The late Lashio Thein Aung (Jimmy Jack) was one of the early pioneers of Myanmar Stereo Music and songs with electric guitar in the mid 70's. Those were the days of recording songs on cassette tapes. In 2013, after 40 years away from home, he came back to Myanmar to perform live concerts.

When I was young, I had the impression that he was a Chinese, because some of his songs had both Burmese and Chinese lyrics.

Here's his stage performance in Yangon 2015 when he sung in both Burmese and Chinese. The legendary singer passed away in Houston, Texas at the age of 73 in December 2018.

One of his songs had lyrics: "I feel like crying when you say good-bye." There are several songs of his on the Internet today. Some fans have created Music videos like the one below.


Summary of Words and Phrases in this lesson (Sortable)
a-dau2 aunty
a-dau2 ji3 big aunty
Ay3 Yes (cold)
Ay3 ay3 ay3 Ok, Ok.. stop bothering me
ay3 ba2 Duh... like I don't know
ay3 bya2 Yes, very true! (male)
ay3 kweare2 I sympathize with you!
ay3 lay2 Right! Absolutely!
cha1 kwa1 Fight!
ga1-za3 ma1-la3 Do you want to play or not?
ga1-za3 meare2 OK, I will (play)
hote ba2 deare3 Yes, that's right!
hote deare2 bya2 I agree! (male)
hote deare2 nau2 Hey, you're right!
hote deare2 shin1 Yes, I concur. (female)
hote-keare1 ba2 Yes, that's right!; OK!
hso2 nay2 hma1 despite saying so
ja1 zo1 Let's..
keare3 OK now..
kwa1 enthusiastic ending word
kwa2 frustrated ending word
kweare2 sympathetic ending word
loat deare2 kwa2 frustrated action
loat meare2 I will do it
loat meare2 kwa2 Will do anyway.(frustrated)
ma1-loat ba2 neare1 Please don't do it!
ma1-loat neare1 Don't do it! (order)
ma1-sa3 ba2 neare1 Please don't eat!
ma1-sa3 neare1 Don't eat that! (order)
ma1-thwa3 ba2 neare1 Please don't go!
ma1-thwa3 neare1 Don't go! (order)
meare2 will (do something)
na3 ma1-la3 Do you want to rest or not?
na3 meare2 OK, I will (rest)
nau2 ending word (warm)
pyay3 ja1-zo1 Let's run!
sa3 deare2 kwa2 I'll eat. (regardless)
sa3 ja1 meare2 Let's eat!
sa3 ja1 zo1 Let's eat!
sa3 ma1-la3 Do you want to eat or not?
sa3 meare2 I will (eat); OK!
tau2 thay3 byi2 The end
tha1-na3 ba2 deare2 pity on (it/him/her)
thwa3 ma1-la3 Want to go?
thwa3 meare2 OK, I will go. (an answer)
thwa3 meare2 Good-Bye!
thwa3 meare2 hso2 Didn't you say you're going?
thwa3 meare2 nau2 I've got to go
thwa3 ome3 meare2 nau2 See you around!
thwa3 lite ome3 meare2 nau2 Let me be excused
thwa3 ja1 zo1 Let's go!
thwa3 meare2 kwa2 I am going!(frustrated)