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Languages of Burma - general

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: SIL International: Ethnologue: Myanmar
Description/subject: Languages of Myanmar
Language: English
Source/publisher: SIL International
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Individual Documents

Title: Building a National Language Policy for Myanmar - A Brief Progress Report
Date of publication: 01 March 2016
Description/subject: "Since 2014 all across Myanmar discussion has been underway on language policy. Sponsored by the Language and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative of UNICEF under the Programme for Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy [PBEA], in close cooperation with the Myanmar Ministry of Education, 16 "Facilitated Dialogues", several research projects, a large number of direct consultations and site visits, interviews, observations and professional training activities have been implemented. At state level there have also been writing teams, information gathering, discussion groups, learning circles and other activities addressing co-ordination issues, multilingual program delivery, curriculum, textbooks, teacher support, and the role of policy and how citizens can participate in policy debates. Working in close cooperation with civil society partners, ethnic language and culture groups, teachers, civil servants and parents this process has been designed and guided by Professor Joseph Lo Bianco, Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne and has involved many hundreds of people, both professionals and community representatives. Through this process a wealth of ideas has been generated about the best ways for Myanmar to make the most of its rich linguistic resources. This brief progress report discusses some of the key achievements and steps so far, and sets out the remainder of the process..."
Author/creator: Joseph Lo Bianco
Language: English
Source/publisher: UNICEF, Pyoe Pin, Thabyay Education Foundation, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Format/size: pdf (1.5MB-reduced version; 2.4MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.themimu.info/sites/themimu.info/files/documents/Report_Brief_Progress_Report_-_Building_...
Date of entry/update: 03 April 2016


Title: Is democracy really lost in translation?
Date of publication: 01 September 2015
Description/subject: "Those seeking to support democratisation in Myanmar’s political transition would do well to remember that political and democratic thinking does not only come from the West. A recent New York Times article by Thomas Fuller lamented the difficulty in translating key political words – like “democracy”, “rule of law” or “institutions” – from English into the Myanmar language....The political realm in Myanmar is not an empty vessel into which new Western democratic terms need to be poured. Rather it has its own rich, evolving and contested traditions of political thought. These should be valued as resources and not ignored simply because they do not exactly reflect the tenets of Western liberal democracy."
Author/creator: Tamas Wells and Matthew J Walton
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Myanmar Times"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 September 2015


Title: Dr. Than Tun and Myanmar Language & Literature
Date of publication: 26 July 2015
Description/subject: Abstract: "History, language, and literature are inseparable. Undoubtedly, historian represents the past via language and employs literature as historical evidence. The late Dr.Than Tun, the highly respected and prominent Myanmar historian, was trained in a positivist fashion under the supervision of D.G.E. Hall and G.H. Luce, the leading colonial scholars. Hence, his treatment of literature fundamentally confined to and empirical historical framework, attaching great importance to its factual data and historicity. Nonetheless, some of his writings reveal that he did not neglect discussing how to trace back and interpret Myanmar history from fictional genres of the past, for example, myth, legend and folklore. He suggests that pre-­‐Buddhist elements of pre-­‐literate societies are preserved in those traditional songs, fables, proverbs, riddles and customs. Moreover, to study the history of Myanmar literature is supposed to begin with the earliest form of literature, the oral tradition. While his copious historical research was primarily based on very formal literary evidence, for instance, inscriptions, royal orders, first-­‐hand accounts, contemporary historical documents on tax, revenue, demography and even tombstones, when he wrote his works he preferred to write in the colloquial Myanmar form. He advocated Ludu U Hla’s campaign for simple and accessible writings for people. He also urged his pupils to write theses in the colloquial language. This paper attempts to analyze Dr.Than Tun’s perception of Myanmar language and literature in a light of the historical context of Myanmar society.".....Paper delivered at the International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015.
Author/creator: Pamaree Surakiat
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015
Format/size: pdf (195K)
Alternate URLs: http://rcsd.soc.cmu.ac.th/web/Burma/home.php#
Date of entry/update: 20 August 2015


Title: Foreign influence in the Burmese language
Date of publication: 26 July 2015
Description/subject: Abstract: "Burmese has a documented history of one thousand years, and from the very first texts shows influence from foreign languages, especially in its vocabulary. Much less evidence of foreign influence is found in the grammatical structure of Burmese, though a closer look reveals some phrase structures that look rather un-Burmese and seem to be pattern replications from a non-verb-final language, such as Mon. The regular use of postpositional grammatical markers especially in the written language, probably in indigenous feature of Burmese, may have been reinforced by literary contact with Pali. Foreign elements in Burmese are important indicators of the development of the language and contact with other cultures. They not only tell us something about which cultures Burmese was in contact with, but also about the period and kind of contact. Three main sources of foreign elements in Burmese can be identified, namely early Indian (Pali and Sanskrit), early Mon, English, together with various more recent sources, including new Indo- Aryan languages, Malay, Chinese varieties, and others. This study takes the linguistic evidence, together with what is known of the history of the involved languages and peoples, to draw a picture of contact scenarios into which the Burmese language and culture entered over the past one thousand years. The Myanmar-English Dictionary by the Myanmar Language Commission (1993) identifies a large number of loan words in Burmese and indicates the source language, together with a more or less accurate transcription of the original form of the respective words, either in Burmese script (for Sanskrit, Pali, Mon, and Shan) or in Romanized transcription (for all other languages, including Hindi).".....Paper delivered at the International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015.
Author/creator: Mathias Jenny
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015
Format/size: pdf (201K)
Alternate URLs: http://rcsd.soc.cmu.ac.th/web/Burma/home.php#
Date of entry/update: 11 August 2015


Title: Language Vitality among the Akha in Myanmar
Date of publication: 26 July 2015
Description/subject: Abstract: "The spread of telecommunications networks and the growth in cross-border trade and travel bring minority language communities in Myanmar into ever greater contact with external influences presenting those communities with new choices and new challenges for their language, culture and group identity. In this context, it is important for a community to be able to assess the vitality of their language at the present moment as well as the likely direction of movement in coming years. This paper describes a sociolinguistic study of language vitality of the Akha communities in Eastern Shan State, Myanmar. Fieldwork involved data collection in 18 Akha villages during Apr-Jul 2014. Factors including Age, Gender and Religious Affiliation were used in the research design. The Extended Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS) (Lewis & Simons 2015:104-117) was used to characterise language vitality and the FAMED conditions (Lewis &Simons 2015:159-189) to assess the extent to which the current level of vitality is sustainable. Overall, Akha language vitality was assessed at EGIDS level 5: “the language is used orally by all generations and is effectively used in written form in parts of the community (Lewis & Simons 2010:110)”. The study found considerable dissimilarities among different villages, with religious affiliation a major predictor of literacy proficiency and usage. The role of the non-formal literacy program operating in Christian villages in sustaining the current level of vitality will be discussed.".....Paper delivered at the International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015.
Author/creator: Ah Suhn Ghoemeh
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies: Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges: University Academic Service Centre (UNISERV), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 24-­26 July 2015
Format/size: pdf (176K)
Alternate URLs: http://rcsd.soc.cmu.ac.th/web/Burma/home.php#
Date of entry/update: 11 August 2015


Title: Burma lost for words when it comes to democracy, freedom, even the phone - Strict censorship and limited access to global media have stunted the Burmese language
Date of publication: 21 July 2015
Description/subject: "For half a century, Burma was so cut off from the outside world, people were jailed for owning an unauthorised fax machine. As the rest of the world was hurtling into the information age, the strict censorship of publications, limited access to global media and creaking connections to the internet stunted the evolution of the Burmese language, leaving it without many words that are elsewhere deemed essential parts of the modern political and technical vocabulary. Today, as Burma embraces change, many foreign words are being imported wholesale, but their meanings are getting lost in translation. The English word democracy was subsumed into the Burmese language decades ago – it is pronounced dee-mock-rah-SEE – but for many Burmese it remains a foreign and somewhat abstract concept. No native words exist for other common ideas like racism, federal or globalisation..."
Author/creator: Thomas Fuller
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irish Times"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 21 July 2015


Title: Myanmar: can minority languages survive? (Audio)
Date of publication: 27 October 2014
Description/subject: "Formerly known as Burma, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is in a state of upheaval. Business is booming in Yangon, thanks to new access to international markets. And while the country is offering greater stability for investors, ethnic and political tensions still run high. Burma/Myanmar is a rapidly changing and challenging place. Anthropologist and linguist Mark Turin travels to Myanmar to explore what these transformations mean for the indigenous ethnic groups that make up much of the population, and specifically for their languages and cultures. Myanmar is a hugely diverse nation: according to a contested recent census, it is home to 135 distinct ethnic groups who are in turn grouped into eight "major national ethnic races." Among them are the Mon, whose Austroasiatic language is still widely spoken and who lay claim to an ancient script that's used to write Pali and Sanskrit. In highland areas, the states of Chin, Kachin and Shan derive their names from the dominant ethnic groups of the region, but these states are also home to many smaller, distinct communities. To date, the state has focussed on national building around a united Burmese identity rather than supporting minority communities. Official government education policy, for example, still prohibits the teaching of ethnic languages in schools. Mark Turin speaks to government representatives, teachers, religious leaders and language experts in the field to find out whether these minority languages can survive in 21st Myanmar. Is the growth of English threatening Myanmar's indigenous languages? What is the role of religion in maintaining linguistic diversity? What does the future hold for Myanmar's unique tapestry of cultural and linguistic diversity?"
Author/creator: Mark Turin, Mark Rickards
Language: English
Source/publisher: BBC Radio 4 (On Language Location - Myanmar)
Format/size: Adobe Flash (28 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 29 November 2014


Title: Culture of Language
Date of publication: 1974
Description/subject: Analyzes the major Myanmar languages. The author creates a taxonomy of Burmese languages and suggests how they can be classified.....Subject Terms: 1. Myanmar Language..... Key Words: 1. Mon... 2. Palaung... 3. Wa... 4. Tibeto - Burman... 5. Kachin language
Author/creator: Pe Maung Tin, U
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ (Metadata: English and Burmese)
Source/publisher: "Nawarat Ko-thwe", 2nd editon, pp1-15, Sabei Oo Sarpay via Univeristy of Washington
Format/size: pdf (270K-reduced version; 1.2MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.lib.washington.edu/myanmar/pdfs/CU0001.pdf
Date of entry/update: 27 November 2014


Title: Myazedi Inscription
Date of publication: 1974
Description/subject: Analyzes the Myazedi inscription created by Rajakumar, son of Kyansittha. The Myazedi inscription was written in four languages, Pali, Mon, Pyu and Myanmar. The author explains how and why the Myanmar languages were used on the inscription....Subject Terms: 1. Myazedi Inscription... 2. Myanmar - History - Bagan Period... 3. Inscriptions - Myanmar... 4. Myanmar - Inscriptions... 5. Rajakumar - Inscription..... Key Words: Myazedi... Myanmar inscriptions
Author/creator: Pe Maung Tin, U
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ (Metadata: English and Burmese)
Source/publisher: "Nawarat Ko-thwe", 2nd editon, pp18-27, Sabei Oo Sarpay via Univeristy of Washington
Format/size: pdf (188K-reduced version; 898K-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.lib.washington.edu/myanmar/pdfs/CU0002.pdf
Date of entry/update: 27 November 2014


Title: A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the languages spoken in the Burma Empire
Date of publication: 1799
Description/subject: Reprint: Original date of publication 1799... "Francis Buchanan published his “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the Languages Spoken in the Burma Empire” in 1799, in the fifth volume of Asiatic Researches. This piece provides one of the first major Western surveys of the languages of Burma. But the article goes beyond this and provides important data on the ethno-cultural identities and identifications of the various population groups in the first half of Bò-daw-hpayà’s reign (1782-1819). For these reasons, the article is republished here. The article is reproduced in its entirety, with slight modifications as follows... The original citation for the article is as follows: Francis Buchanan. “A Comparative Vocabulary of Some of the languages spoken in the Burma Empire.” Asiatic Researches 5 (1799): 219-240. M. W. C.
Author/creator: Francis Buchanan (aka Francis Hamilton)
Language: English
Source/publisher: SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 1, No., 1 (March 2003)
Format/size: pdf (117K)
Alternate URLs: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/8050/
Date of entry/update: 07 December 2010


Title: Myanmar’s new govt unveils strategy for peace with ethnic groups
Description/subject: "Myanmar’s incoming civilian government this month announced plans to introduce a Ministry for Ethnic Affairs. The creation of this ministry, together with the appointment of a Christian vice-president for this Buddhist-majority country, seems calculated to reduce the number and severity of Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts. It coincides with a major and related Unicef-backed initiative to create a Myanmar National Language Policy (NLP)..."
Author/creator: John Draper, Peerasit Kamnuansilpa
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Nation" (Bangkok)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 April 2016