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

Naing Tinnyuntpu Naing Tinnyuntpu is no stranger to systematic and efficient approach. He came from manufacturing environment with Bachelor's and Master's in Industrial Engineering (USA).

His contributions to the semiconductor industry included techniques recognized by Sematech as ‘Administrative Quality Best Practices’ during his process engineering days with now defunct IC chip making division of Hewlett-Packard in Singapore.

Born and raised in Yangon, he has lived in six countries and knowledgeable in unrelated areas including self-taught programming languages. His free online Burmese lessons serve as an effective communication bridge that connects international community with ordinary Myanmar people.

Read this page with Myanmar Script

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?).

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".

CLICK TABLE HEADER COLUMNS TO SORT BY ASCENDING OR DESCENDING ORDER IN ENGLISH OR BURMESE.

Summary of Words and Phrases in this lesson (Sortable)
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 ya1 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 ya1 meare2 need to go down
out-hsone3 hma2 at the lowest level
teare1-deare1 straight ahead
teare1-deare1 hma2 located straight ahead
teare1-deare1 hsoat back up straight!
teare1-deare1 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 FileGo 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 leare3Where 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 meare2will 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-deare1straight.

teare1-deare1 hma2(It's) located straight ahead. (straight + at)

teare1-deare1 thwa3Go straight ahead. (straight + go)

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

a-shay1 toe3Move forward. (front + inch forward)

At the back

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

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

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

teare1-deare1 hsoat ... teare1-deare1 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.

hma2 is the postpositional marker equivalent to English preposition "in", "on", "at". In burmese it goes after the place or location word.

Go up

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

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

a-pau2 htut hma2(It's) upstairs. (up + floor or level + at)

a-pau2-zone3 htut hma2(It's) on the top floor. (up + extreme position + floor or level + at)

a-pau2-zone3 a-hsin1 hma2(It's) on the top shelf. (up + extreme position + "shelf" + at)

za1-bweare3 pau2 hma2(It's) on the table. (table + on top + at)

lun3 pau2 hma2(It's) on the road. (road + on + at)

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

a-pau2 tetGo up! (up + climb)

toun2 pau2 tetClimb the mountain. (mountain + up + climb)

thit-pin2 tetClimb the tree. (tree + climb)

ka3 pau2 tetGo 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 — Go up! Go up! (climb + "do this action first")

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. Fortunately, the days of pushy bus ticket conductors are over with the new YBS system which runs without them like the rest of the world.

a-pau2 htut tet ya1 meare2(You / We) need to go upstairs. (up + floor or level + climb + obtain + going to)

a-pau2 htut tet ja1 zo1Let's go upstairs. (up + floor or level + climb + let's)

Note: Extreme position is spelled "hsone3" but pronounced "zone3" for most words.

Down there!

out hma2(It's) down there. (down + at)

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

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

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

out hsin3 ya1 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 hma2in the middle. (middle + at)

a-leare2 htut hma2on the 2nd level of 3 storey building. (middle + floor or level + at)

a-leare2 dun3middle school; junior high. (middle + class/form/grade)

On your right

nya2 bet hma2On your right. (right + direction + at)

nya2 bet kway1Turn right! (right + direction + turn)

nya2 bet a-soon2-zone3 hma2At the extreme right position.(right + direction + extreme position + at)

The corner

nya2 bet doun1at the right corner, as in soccer corner kick. (right + direction + corner)

lun3 doun1 hma2in the street corner. (road + corner + at)

Left side

beare2 bet hma2On your left (left + direction + at)

beare2 bet kway1Turn left (left + direction + turn)

beare2 bet a-soon2-zone3 hma2at the extreme left position. (left + direction + extreme position + at)

beare2 bet doun1at the left corner, as in soccer corner kick. (left + direction + corner)

Going out

a-pyin2 hma2outside. (outside + at)

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 hma2inside. (inside + at)

a-khan3-hteare3 hma2inside the room. (room + inside + at)

ain2-hteare3 hma2inside the house. (house + inside +at)

ate-hteare3 hma2inside the bag. (bag + inside + at)

ka3-hteare3 hma2inside the car. (car + inside + at)

chan2-hteare3 hma2in the backyard. ( backyard where you grow vegetables or raise livestocks + inside + at)

hma2 is the postpositional marker equivalent to English preposition "in", "on", "at" and "Zai4" in Mandarin Chinese.. In burmese it goes after the place or location word.

hteare3 from the word a-hteare3 meaning "inside" is used as suffix to nouns. It is a postpositional marker in Burmese grammar and must still be followed by hma2.

North, East, South, West

a-shay1East. (same meaning as "the front")

a-noutWest. (same meaning as "the back")

toun2South.

myoutNorth.

A Tourist Story

Taxi driver:

hsa1-ya2 — Sir

beare2 — where

thwa3 — go

ma1-leare3 — ? ( will + ?)

hsa1-ya2 beare2 thwa3 ma1 leare3Where are you going, Sir?

Tourist:

hsu3-lay2 — Sule Pagoda

lite — to come along

ma1-la3 — ? (will + ?)

hsu3-lay2 lite ma1-la3Sule 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 ba2Pay me only 3,000.

Tourist :

ha2... — C'mon

thone3 htoun2 — 3,000

mya3 — too much

deare2 — ending word.

ha2... thone3 htoun2 mya3 deare2C'mon... 3,000 is too much.

Tourist continues:

hna1-htoun2 — 2,000

loat — to make or to do

ba2 — polite suggestion.

hna1-htoun2 loat ba2Please 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 — exchange

ma1-la3 — ? (will + ?)

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 bu3Not 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. Air-conditioned new buses imported from China are now abailable in some routes.See the routes with all the bus stops and detailed maps at http://ygnbusdirectory.com/.