Update: 2020-12-07 11:05 PM -0500


Burmese Grammar 1899 :
in two parts


- Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis by A. W. Lonsdale, Education Department, Burma, British Burma Press, Rangoon, 1899. A photocopy of the ink-on-paper book , and downloaded PDF copies are available in the TIL Research Station, in Yangon. 

Copied and edited by UKT and staff of TIL . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

UKT: 121117, 160404, 170611: In my present work, which began in 2008 Aug, I'd thought of using my own name as the author, using Lonsdale's work as my main reference. However, with my chance encounter on the Internet with a PDF copy, I've decided to use the name of A. W. Lonsdale as the author, entering my name only as the editor. I'm doing this edition citing many references in Phonetics and Linguistics, and from what I've studied in Pali- and Sanskrit- languages. However Lonsdale must be given the credit of presenting the Burmese speech in the Myanmar script as a scientific phonetic language to the world.
UKT201103: Downloaded copy in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF Libraries, and in TIL Bk-Cndl Online Library
- AWLonsdale-BurGram-GramAnal<> / Bkp<> / BkCnd<OL> (link chk 201103)


index.htm | Top

Contents of this page

Part 1. Orthoepy (pronunciation) and orthography (spelling) --  BG1899-1-indx.htm - update 2020Nov 

Part 2. Accidence (morphology) and syntax (sentence structure) --  BG1899-2-indx.htm - update 121117

UKT 201128: Since the IPA phonetic alphabet, as a prototype was invented only about 10 years before Lonsdale published his work, he could not have been familiar with IPA.
See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_International_Phonetic_Alphabet 201128
"The prototype of the alphabet appeared in Phonetic Teachers' Association (1888b). The Association based their alphabet upon the Romic alphabet of Henry Sweet, which in turn was based on the Phonotypic Alphabet of Isaac Pitman and the Palaeotype of Alexander John Ellis. [1] "

Lonsdale was familiar with the pre-cursors of IAST (International Alphabet for Sanskrit Transcription), because he mentions "In the writing of  Pli in Roman characters, the consonant [ {Ta.}] is transliterated by [note the dot-under-t ]". His knowledge helps me, because I'm giving Devanagari aksharas [used for writing Pali and Sanskrit] whenever necessary. Now see:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devanagari_transliteration 201129

UKT notes
UKT 201106: A bit of history in making that I have witnessed
Doggie's Tale

Contents of this page

According to A. W. Lonsdale, the Bur-Myan akshara are distributed in the POA groups as follows.
See p.007-008 sec.14 - ch02.htm (link chk: 190929). 

Velar [approx. Gutteral {kN~HTa.}] :
    consonants: {ka.}, {ga.}, / {gna.}/{ng}; approximant: {ha.}; vowel: {a.}, {a}

Palatal {ta-lu.}:
    consonants: {sa.}, {za.}, / {a.}/{a.}; approximants: {ya.}, {I.}, {I}
  [UKT 190929: {I.} is pronounced as ; {I} as {i}]

Retroflex (Lingual or Cerebral): {Ta.}, {a.}, {Na.}, {ra.}, {La.}
  [UKT 201105: Retroflex sounds are easy to articulate individually, but in rapid speech they become indistinguishable from Dental sounds.]

UKT 121212, 160404, 161006: There are more interesting points to consider based on modern views and interpretations from Pal-Myan. Examples:

#1. Gutteral {kN~HTa.} 'throat' - UHS PMD0281.
IPA (International Phonetics Association) considers the POA of /k/ - for Eng-Lat - to be Velar, whereas some Eastern phoneticians take it to be further inwards - the Uvelar - like the Arabic /q/.

#2. I've reconsidered the problem of Nya-major / {a.}/{} & Nya-minor / {a.}/{} in r2c5 cell of the Akshara matrix in the light of killed consonants in the coda of the syllable CV.
In Burmese, {a.} can be under virama {a.t} without breaking up, {}.
In Pali it breaks up into {} & {a.}.
   In the light of the killed aksharas, I've placed Nya-minor / {a.}/{} in r2c5 cell as the sole occupier of the cell. And have moved Nya-major / {a.}/{} to the approximant row to the Palatal-approximant cell, moving out the / {a.}/{} to the Velar-approximant cell.

#3. In order to include Eng-Latin and Skt-Dev, I have to accept the Fricative hisser / {Sa.}/{S} and Fricative husher / {sha.}/{sh} as BEPS basic consonants.

#4. The only way to differentiate the Palatal plosive-stop and Dental fricative hisser & husher is to consider the Bur-Myan glyph, Romabama, and Skt-Dev together:

   Palatal plosive-stop : {sa.} च / {c} च्
   Dental fricative hisser: {Sa.} ष / {S} ष् 
   Dental fricative husher: {sha.} श / {sh} श्
Caveat: Avoid using IAST and IPA transliterations when you are using Romabama transcription, remembering that Romabama is based on Bur-Myan phonology. As it is, Romabama transcription cannot be applied even to Mon-Myan. I expect it will also be inapplicable to Karen-Myan and Shan-Myanmar. However Romabama is applicable to Pali-Myan and to Skt-Dev to some extent.

Contents of this page

UKT notes

A bit of history in making that I have witnessed

UKT 180712, 201105: The Bur-Myan language and its usage have undergone changes due to political events during my life time. See videos on:
See also: Breakthrough in Burma, by (Dr.) Ba Maw former {a.Di. pa.ti.) during WWII, 1968, in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries:
- BaMaw-BreakthruBurma<> / Bkp<> (link chk 201108)

A country that is very similar to Burma (especially the southern Burma) in terms of climate, Pali-language, Theravada religion, and subjugation by the colonial British and being made part of their British-India Empire, is Ceylon. While searching for Andrew Nicoll's Ceylon, I've come across Ceylon, by J. E. Tennent, 1859. See the downloaded file in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries:
- JETennent-Ceylon<> / Bkp<> (link chk 201108)

Declaration of Independence by Burma during WWII. 
    - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML5lWWCfgRM 140125, 201105

Or in Burma section in TIL HD-VIDEO and SD-VIDEO libraries
  - Bur-Indp-1942<> / Bkp<> (link chk 160914, 180712, 190930, 201105),
  - Note: only available in Research Station for TIL students: not available online on TIL website because of possible political reaction.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma_Independence_Army 201105
"The Burma Independence Army (BIA) [a] was a collaborationist [UKT: Wiki article is insulting: BIA was fighting to make the country free and would side with any one who was fighting the British who had made us slaves!] and revolutionary army that fought for the end of British rule in Burma by assisting the Japanese in their conquest of the country in 1942 during World War II. It was the first post-colonial army in Burmese history"

The Declaration of Independence on Aug 1, 1943 , and the rejoicing through out the country has a left a deep impression on me. I was 9 and living with my parents in Kungyangon town, Hanthawaddy District.). See the Declaration-in-English<OL>

Burma'a Independence was declared on 1 August 1943 . Some had quoted this as Fake Independence.* You can see Dr Ba Maw, Thakhin KoDawMhine, General AungSan (Minister of Defence in Japanese-military uniform), etc. Some had call the Independent Burma, a puppet state . Yet it is mostly the Western powers who had interfered in our affairs.
See Wikipedia: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Burma 160804, 191001
"ビルマ国 (Biruma-koku) (Bamar)

*UKT 201105: Burma's Independence during WWII has been described as Fake Independence. Yet to us, those who were born when Burma was still a British colony under King George V, the 1943 Independence is real, when we as an independent state - though allied to the Axis Powers - could have our own fully armed land forces (BIA and then BDA), a fledging navy and air-force. Burma declared war on the Americans and the British and their Allies almost immediately after the declaration of independence. Burma, now Myanmarpr, has been meddled with by World Powers, though out its history - those who pretended to be our friends!

American (U.S.) 36th President Johnson (LBJ) and wife, welcome to General N Win and wife Daw Khin May Than in Sept 1966. The event is after the General had staged a Coup d'tat on 2 March 1962, and had introduced the Burmese Way to Socialism. The videos are in Burma section in TIL HD-VIDEO and SD-VIDEO libraries - AmericanWelcome<> / Bkp<> (link chk 190930)
See clips from the above video.

Read also The Burmese Way to Socialism
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bur...Way_to_Socialism 180712
"The Burmese Way to Socialism has largely been described by scholars as being xenophobic, superstitious* and an "abject failure" and as turning one of the most prosperous countries in Asia into one of the world's poorest. [3] [UKT ]

*UKT 201105: Superstition and Esoteric practices are worlds apart. In the inset a Burmese Buddhist Rishi-in-making is seen staring with open eyes into the midday sun without going blind. Those "scholars" who described our practices as "superstitions" are in fact blind!

However, it may have served to increase domestic stability and keep Burma from being as entangled in the Cold War (1947-1991) struggles that affected other Southeast Asian nations. [1]

Burmese kings fought Britain in a series of wars, 1824-26, 1852 and 1885. Burma lost her independence and became a British colony on January 1, 1886. The country was liberated from Britain during World War II by Japan which granted her independence in 1943. The British reoccupied the country in 1945, but had to grant her independence in 1948. Although the short-lived independent Burma during WWII is now considered to be irrelevant, it was an internationally recognized sovereign country during WWII. It was recognized by Germany, Japan, and Italy - the Axis powers. That independent country with its own armed-forces fought the British and Americans during the War, and we as children were taught to hate the British colonists. Some viewed that episode in history as the Fourth Anglo-Burmese War, whereas the British-Burma colonial government in exile in India consider it to be just a rebellion. Whatever the case may be, it left many of us who had lived in that period confused.

With this little note of mine I salute those, among who are many of my relatives, who lost their lives preserving the sovereignty of the land of my fore-parents.

As an academic and linguist, it is my duty to stay out of politics. Yet it is also my duty to show what I had experienced as child under the age of ten.

Many accounts given in the Wikipedia article are known to my parents and me personally, and also known to me through my sister-in-law, Daw Than Khin, who had worked as a lower division clerk in the Foreign Service department of Dr. Ba Maw's administration.

Some members of the first cabinet in Dr. Ba Maw's administration had been house-guests in my home during the war years, when U Aung Din, brother of Thakin Mya (Deputy Prime Minister), and one of my parents' close friends, got married to one of my mother's old students in Kungyangon. U Aung Din, whom I called U Lay Gyi "younger uncle" was instrumental in installing my intense love for the land where I was born, and its culture particularly the Myanmar akshara. Incidentally, together with Dr. Ba Maw, one of my close cousins Emma Ba Yoke was imprisoned in Japan. She was married to U Nyunt Han, son of Dr. Ba Han (brother of Dr. Ba Maw).

Go back A bit of History-note-b

Contents of this page

Doggie's Tale

Burmese-Myanmar speech has 5 nasals: English-Latin has only two, /n/ & /m/.
The paucity of nasals in English is just one of the obstacles of transcription from Burmese to English.

Mnemonic: The Doggie Tale
Little doggie cringe in fear -- ŋ (velar),
  Seeing Ella's flapping ears -- ɲ (palatal)
  And, the Shepard's hanging rear -- ɳ (retroflex).
Doggie so sad he can't get it out
  What's that Kasha क्ष when there's a Kha ख ?
  And when there's Jana ज्ञ what am I to do with Jha झ?
On top of all there're the husher Sha श /ʃ/, and hisser Ssa ष /s/,
  when I am stuck with Theta स /θ/ !" 
Little Doggie don't be sad,
  You are no worse than a Celtic Gnome
  Losing G in his name, he is just a Nome!

Note to digitizer: you can copy and paste the following:
Ā ā ă  Ē ē ĕ  Ī ī ĭ  Ō ō ŏ  Ū ū ŭ ː
Ḍ ḍ Ḥ ḥ Ḷ ḷ Ḹ ḹ Ṁ ṁ Ṃ ṃ
Ṅ ṅ Ṇ ṇ Ṛ ṛ Ṝ ṝ Ś ś Ṣ ṣ Ṭ ṭ ɕ ʂ
Instead of Skt-Dev ः {wic~sa.} use "colon" :
Angle Brackets: 〈 〉: these are different from key-board angle brackets < >
Avagraha ऽ use apostrophe
Root sign √ ; approx ≅
IAST Dev: भ आ इ ई उ ऊ
  ऋ ऌ ऍ ऎ ए ऐ ऑ ऒ ओ औ
  च ca छ cha  श ś [ɕ] /ʃ/ ; ष ṣ [ʂ] /s/; स s [s] /θ/ ; ऋ {iRi.} & ॠ {iRi},
  viram ् , rhotic ऋ ृ
Skt-Dev Row #3: ट ठ ड ढ ण ; conjunct ट ् ठ = ट्ठ
Skt-Dev special phonemes: Ksa क ् ष = क्ष
Undertie in Dev transcription: ‿ U203F
Using ZWNJ (ZeroWidthNonJoiner), e.g. , क्‌ष (code: क्&zwnj;ष)
  See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-width_non-joiner 150630
IPA-, Pali- & Sanskrit nasals: ŋ ṅ ṅ ,  ɲ , ɳ ṇ ṇ, n n n , m m m
  Pali- & Skt {::ting}: aṁ , aṃ 
IPA symbols:
 ɑ ɒ ə ɛ ɪ ɯ ʌ ʊ ʃ ʧ ʤ θ ŋ ɲ ɳ ɴ ɔ ɹ ʔ /ʰ/ /ʳ/ /ː/
  <king> /kɪŋ/ (DJPD16-300) 
  <church> /ʧɜːʧ/ (DJPD16-097)
  <success> /sək'ses/ (DJPD16-515)
  <thin> /θɪn/ (DJPD16-535), <thorn> /θɔːn/ (DJPD16-535)
  circumflex-acute :
  ấ U+1EA5 , ế U+1EBF
  upsilon-vrachy  ῠ 
  small-u-breve  ῠ ŭ

Go back Dog-tale-note-b

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