Burmese Alphabet

What is Myanmar?

Myanmar, which is known officially as the republic of the Union of Myanmar is a Southeast Asian country. Myanmar was formerly known as Burma, which is indicative of the lingua franca spoken throughout the nation, Burmese. Myanmar is bordered by India, Bangladesh, and China to the North and Laos and Thailand to the East. Early civilizations of Myanmar were the Pyu city-states and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Myanmar.

This has historically influenced a completely different set of people and cultures between the north and south of the country. In the 9th century, the upper Irrawaddy valley was settled by the Bamar people, who had established a largely pagan kingdom in 1050. The Burmese culture and culture was slowly becoming dominant in the country, with its state-recognized religion of Theravada Buddhism. Myanmar, under the Taungoo dynasty, was the largest empire in the History of Southeast Asia. This success was short-lived and fragmented.

In current years, a power struggle has ensued in the Myanmar government over leadership of the country, most recently decided by a coup that seized power in 2020. The military junta serves as a regulator of the state, which removes and installs new leaders depending on public sentiment.

What is the Burmese Language?

The Burmese language is a Sino-Tibetan language which is the primary language of Myanmar. Burmese is also spoken in certain regions and tribes throughout northern and northeast India. The etymology of the word causes some confusion, as the official language posted in the constitution for the English language refers to the recognized language in Myanmar as the "Myanmar language". Even though this is the legal representation of the dialect, many English natives refer to the language as Burmese, after the former name of Myanmar, Burma.

The majority of Burmese speakers live throughout the Irrawaddy River Valley and have various smaller dialects. The Burmese spoken throughout the valley are called Standard Burmese. The interesting change in the Burmese language can be seen in the differentiation of the language between the north and south regions of the country, where the differences are largely the use of vocabulary and not pronunciation.

Outside of the valley, non-standard variations of the language have stark differences the farther the person is from the valley. These include not only vocabulary differences but pronunciation as well.

History of the Burmese Language

Burmese is classified similarly to the English language, known as old Burmese, middle Burmese, and modern Burmese. Old Burmese in its earliest form dates back to the 11th and 12th century stone inscriptions of the Pagan Empire. The earliest use of the Burmese alphabet that was evidenced was in 1035, and a recreation casting of an old stone inscription had pointed to the year 984. The indirect borrowings of some words in the old Burmese language were taken as loan words from the Pyu language.

Middle Burmese was adopted in the 16th century, with modern Burmese emerging in the mid-1700s. At that time, the increase in literacy rates among males had increased the circulation of royal chronicles and legal texts.