Update: 2016-09-23 06:24 PM -0400


English Grammar in Plain Language


by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning).
Based on Barrons Educational Series, Grammar In Plain English, by Diamond, H. and Dutwin, P., Barrons Educational Series, Inc., Woodbury, New York. Copyright 1977. 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

index.htm |Top

Contents of this page

  What is an Akshara
  What is Grammar
Syllable, Word, Sentence, and Syntax
Introduction of new aksharas for BEPS work
Articulatory Phonetics and Acoustic Phonetics


UKT notes

 abugida aka alphasyllabary or Kagyi-Khakw {ka.kri:hka.hkw:}
 IPA - International Phonetic Alphabet and Association
 palatal nasal {a.}/ : pronounced as IPA /ɲ/
  {a.}/ {} though belonging to Palatal POA-group is not plosive-stop.
  From the pronunciations of syllables with {} as coda, it is determined
  to be an approximant similar to syllables with {y} as coda.
particle {pic~s:} / norminalization - sentence endings {I}, {}, {m}
syllable {sa.ka:n-su.} 'group of speech-units'

 Always differentiate {sa.ka:} 'speech' from {sa} 'script'. MLC PMD2006-480 gives <syllable> as {wN~Na.} which we usually understand as "good appearance". To avoid confusion, I will use {sa.ka:n-su.} 'group of speech-units' for <sylllable>,  from which we get:
  <monosyllable> {-ka.sa.ka:su.},
  <disyllable> {dwi.sa.ka:su.}, and
  <polysyllable> {ba.hu.sa.ka:su.}

syntax {wa-kya.s:} .
   {wa-kya.} - n. gram  sentence -- MLC MED2006-473
TAM (Tense-Aspect-Mode)

For comparison to Bur-Myan grammar, see:
  - Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis 1899 by A. W. Lonsdale, Rangoon: British Burma Press, 1899 xii, 461, in two parts. 
  Part 1. Orthoepy and orthography; Part 2. Accidence and syntax
- BG1899-indx.htm > BG1899-1-indx.htm > BG1899-2-indx.htm (link chk 160911)
Burmese Grammar, unnamed authors, MLC -- in Bur-Myan in six pdf files.
UKT 160911: To lighten my Tun Inst. of Learning website, I had deleted the Burmese Grammar . Then I found that Wordpress.com had uploaded my work on the Internet.
File 1. - https://whiteboylearningburmese.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/bg-mlc-1-1.pdf 160405
in 6 PDF files: See downloaded pdf files in TIL SD-Library : links to TIL SD-Library
  SD-Library<> 1. PDF file 1. 2. PDF file 2. 3. PDF file 3. 4. PDF file 4. 5. PDF file 5. 6. PDF file 6. (link chk 160911)
  bkp<> 1. PDF file 1. 2. PDF file 2. 3. PDF file 3. 4. PDF file 4. 5. PDF file 5. 6. PDF file 6. (link chk 160911)


Contents of this page


UKT 160913: In the previous versions, I used to give the almost equivalent of a preceding paragraph in Bur-Myan mixed with English terms in English, followed by my Romabama transcription. And whenever I want to rewrite the paragraph, my staff has to redo the process of typing on Paint, and I having to rewrite in Romabama. That was an obstacle in my work. I have now to discontinue the practice because of shortage of staff due to financial restrait. However, in the following, you will still see the remnants of the old practice. But from now on, I will just give only the Romabama.

While writing Romabama I realized that I've to recognize {sha.} as a basic consonant of BEPS. It is derived from {rha.} --> {Sha.} --> {sha.}, and ordinarily written as {sha.} for smooth reading of Romabama. As a basic akshara it can be placed under a virama sign as, . It can then be used to transcribe English words like <dish>  and <fish> {fsh}.


Contents of this page

What is an Akshara

The following comments are taken from my edited version of Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis by A. W. Lonsdale, Education Department, Burma, British Burma Press, Rangoon, 1899.
- BG1899-indx.htm > BG1899-1-indx.htm > ch01-1.htm (link chk 160918)

Lonsdale sec.002p001. The Bur-Myan grammarians, having no suitable grammatical terms of their own, were obliged to borrow them from the Pali Language. The term they employ for Grammar is {d~da-t~htn} (fn001-02), commonly called {d~da kym:}, or simply {d~da}.

Lonsdale sec.003p001. In general the written representation of a sound is called Akshara {ak~hka.ra}. Because of its inherent vowel, an Akshara is pronounceable: it is called a Syllable {sa.ka:n-su.} or {wN~Na.}.

UKT 160915: In this respect, Akshara is entirely different from the Letter of the Alphabet-Letter system of writing. The Letter is mute. This distinction was not made when Lonsdale was writing his Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis. A combination of syllables is called a Word {waad} or {poad}.

{poad} - n. . word. . ortho punctuation mark. - MLC MED2006-274
{wN~Na.} - n. . appearance. . letter; syllable [Pali ] -- MLC MED2006-480

Because of the polysemous nature of such words, I feel that we have to come up with clear one-to-one definitions. What I have done is given on the right. I discussed this problem with U Tun Tint (retd MLC editor) on 150715. For example for a unambiguous meaning for syllable, we consider alternatives, such as: {sa.ka:su.}/ {sa.ka:lon:} (referring to spoken language), and to differentiate from {sa-su.}/ {sa-lon:} (referring to written language). I am indebted to my friend Ko Tun Tint.

Since the term must include the idea of "sound" as well, a term such as {sa.ka:n-su.} might be suitable but we need it for syllable. Finally, I decided to adopt a transcription from English <word> {waad}. And reserve, {poad} for  ortho "punctuation mark".

See Polysemy in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysemy 160915
"Polysemy is a pivotal concept within disciplines such as media studies and linguistics. The analysis of polysemy, synonymy, and hyponymy and hypernymy is vital to taxonomy and ontology in the information-science senses of those terms. It has applications in pedagogy and machine learning, because they rely on word-sense disambiguation and schemas."

A word may contain just one syllable: it is called monosyllabic. When it contains more than one syllable it is called polysyllabic.

The most basic idea behind the Ka'gyi-Kha'gw {ka.kri:hka.hkw:} or Abugida-Akshara system of writing is the syllable {sa.ka:n-su.} - an acoustic sound unit.

It is reported in an online newspaper article dated 2012 Mar 26, that computer scientists in designing computer languages noticed the importance of the idea of syllable in Sanskrit.
See my note on Sanskrit as computer language .
"Very soon the traditional Indian language Sanskrit will be a part of the space, with the United States of America (USA) mulling to use it as computer language at NASA."

However, I advice my readers to read newspaper articles with suspicion. They are useful for general information only. Until I see a piece of information in a well-reputed academic or scientific journal, all facts posted must be taken with caution.

Lonsdale sec.004p002. The Bur-Myan Grammar may be divided into three principal parts, viz.

{ak~hka.rp~pa.B-da.} -- Distinction of Letters
  -- includes Orthography (spelling) and Orthoepy (pronunciation)  (fn002-03)
{pa.da.wi.w-sa.na.} -- Word Investigation
  -- embraces the classification of words, their accidence (inflection) and derivation (etymology)
{ka-ra.ka.kp~pa.} -- Rules concerning the necessary relations of words in a sentence.
  -- what we understand by syntax .

In need of a term, I suggest {wa-kya.s:} for syntax. -- UKT121122

For unusual English words, I have given the gloss in (...) or within '...' based on AHTD.

Now that we know what Akshara {ak~hka.ra} and Syllable {sa.ka:n-su.} are, we have to know what is meant by the inherent vowel of the Akshara.

Akshara is pronounceable because it has an inherent vowel, whereas the Letter without an inherent vowel is mute. The two are related as can be seen in the case of Bur-Myan Akshara {ta.}, and the Georgian Consonantal Letter "Tan" თ (U10D7) and Vowel Letter "An" ა (10D0), where the latter can be used as an inherent vowel:

{ta.} --> თ "Tan" + ა "An" -->  თა /ta/


Contents of this page

What is Grammar

Grammar is {d~da} in Pali-Myan {d~da.} slightly modified in its form, and implies primarily Sound. Pali Grammarians place all sounds under two heads, viz. {sait~ta.za. d~da.} 'mind produced sounds,' and {U.tu.za. d~da.} 'accidentally or naturally produced sounds'.

Very few people love Grammar: at least the traditional way of learning it. The terminology which we have to memorize has very little practical meaning in day-to-day speech. The scope of this manuscript can be judged from the aim of the original book: To prepare for the General Educational Development (GED) test. The following are several passages in Romabama which you can easily read if you know how to speak Burmese and read the Myanmar script.


<grammar> ko kreik pa-t hso-t. lu ha a.lwun sha: pa-t// a.htu:a.hprn. a.ma.ro:kya. <grammar> ko moan: kra. t// mhan-pa-t// Ba-hpric lo. l: hso tau. a.ma.ro:kya. <grammar> ha sa.ka: prau: t. n ra mha lon:wa.ni: pa: a.on: ma.wn-Bu://

We should note that when a Bur-Myan child goes to school to learn English, we say in Burmese that he goes to learn {n~ga.laip sa} or the written English, i.e. the "script". Of course, he will come to know how to "speak" English, but his primary goal is to learn how to read and to write. However, in these lessons, the emphasis will be on spoken English "speech" first and then we will proceed to written English "script".


pa-hta.ma. U:hsoan: n~ga.laip-sa n ta la:/ n~ga.laip-sa.ka: n ta la: hso-ta hkw:hkra: i.Bo. lo t//
a.hku. n-hkn:sa tw ka. sa.ka: a.prau: mha lo p t. a.hkr-hkn ka. sa. m/ ta.hpr:hpr: n. a.r: Bak ko wn wa: m//


a.ma.ro:kya. d~da (o.ma.hoat) <traditional grammar> ha n~ga.laip-sa a.r: mha ma.pa rn ma.hpric-Bu: lo. htn-kra.t. lu tw ka. mya: pa-t// da-kraung. <A noun is the name of a person or thing.> hso-ta mro: ko sa. n kra. tau. t// di-lo pon- <definition> tw ko kyak hken: lo. n-kra: ra.t. kyaung:a: ha <definition> tw a.lwut rwut rn: n. <grammar> ko krauk wa: tau. t// n~ga.laip sa.ka: prau prn tau. l: <grammar> mhn pa. ma.la: hso t. sait wn la-pri: sa.ka: prau: ma.htwak tau.Bu://


a.hku. n-hkn:sa mha <traditional grammar definition> tw ha n~ga.laip sa.ka: prau: t. n ra mha-a ma.hoat/ a.r: mha l: lon:wa. ni:pa: ma.lo Bu: lo. tw. ra. laim.m// prn-prau: pa. m/ ma.lo-Bu: hso ta <grammar> ko prau: ta ma. hoat Bu:// <definition> tw ma.lo Bu: lo. prau: ta hpric t//

In Bur-Myan traditional grammar, the student learns the grammatical terms which are mostly derived from Pali. In essence, the students of my father's generation (turn of 19th century to early 20th) ended up learning a set of grammatical terms in Pali (a foreign language in Myanmarpr), and another set of grammatical terms in English (another foreign language), to be bilingual in Burmese and English.

Caveat: There are many indigenous languages, such as Mon and Shan, which write in Myanmar Akshara. Therefore, when you say Myanmar Grammar {mrn-ma d~da}, unless you are a narrow minded person, you should not mean just the grammar for Bama spoken language or speech. Just remember to emphasise that it is for Bama speech only. Use the hyphenated term Burmese-Myanmar Grammar. Remember that there are Mon-Myanmar Grammar, Shan-Myan Grammar, etc.

mrn-ma Akshara {ak~hka.ra} n. re: ta ba.ma sa hky: a ma. hoat/ ten:rn: a: a.mya: su. l: pa pa t// 

In our days, the emphasis on Bur-Myan grammar became and less and less important. It was eventually totally dropped in high school. In the university, those taking Burmese as a specialized subject had to learn the Burmese grammar, but for us Science students, we did not have to take any.

However during the days of Burmese Way to Socialism, under the leadership of Chairman U N Win, [as General NWin (1962-1974) and Chairman U N Win (1974-1988)], he forced the MLC (Myanmar Language Commission) to rewrite a new version of Burmese Grammar .

The result was the students have to learn what was then touted as Bur-Myan terms but which reality were Pali just as in old days of my father's generation.

The following are some of the terms taken from MLC Burmese Grammar (in Bur-Myan) :

{d~da} - grammar - MLC MED2006-517

{ak~hka.ra} 'akshara' alphabet - MLC MED2006-619

{wa-sn~ga.} 'parts of speech' - MLC MED2006-473

{naam} 'noun'
{naam-sa:} - 'pronoun'
(Checking a long vowel by a killed consonant is allowed only in Pal-Myan, and loan words.)

{lan} - 'grammatical gender' : not sex.
{kan:} - number
(In an English sentence, the <number> {kan:} in subject (noun) must be compatible with the <number> {kan:}of the verb, e.g.

A man buys mangoes.
Two men buy mangoes. - <man> becomes <men>, & <buys> becomes <buy>.

In Bur-Myan only an affix may be added. Even then it is not compulsory. Bur-Myan has very simple grammar. Unless the information is relevant, it need not be included. {kain:} 'number' is not important in the sentence: <man mango buy>.

{lu} {tic-yauk} -- {a.rak-i:} {w-t}//
man ----- one person --------- mango ----------- buy //
{lu} {nhic-yauk} {a.rak-i:} {w-t}//
man ----- two person --------- mango ----------- buy //

It is the same with gender. In French gender is important, and even <table> & <chairs> are 'feminine' (une table & une chaise), whilst <wall> is masculine (un mur). English is simpler than French. How lucky we are to have English as our International language! Best of all is our Bur-Myan: it has no gender, no number, and no tense.

{kri.ya} - 'verb' - MLC MED2006-038

{ka-la.} - 'tense'
(Tense is only one of the trio TAM in BEPS. Bur-Myan does not have tense forms.
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_language 121121. )

{di} {lu}  {ma.n.ka.} {a.rak-i:} {w-t}//
This  man -- yesterday-when ------- mango ------------- buy
{di} {lu} {di-n.} {a.rak-i:} {w-t}//
This  man ---- today --------- mango ------------ buy

{na-ma. wi.e-a.na.} 'adjective' - MLC MED2006-222
{kri.ya wi.ea.na.} 'adverb'  - MLC MED2006-038   

{wi.Bt} - 'determiner', post-positional marker, word suffixed to a noun or pronoun to designate it as the subject or object, and to a verb to indicate time or mood  - MLC MED2006-475

{m~bn~Da.} 'conjunction' - MLC MED2006-520

{pic~s:} 'modifier'
   See in my note on particle


{a-me-ait} 'interjection' - MLC-MED2006-605

{wa-kya.} 'sentence' --  MLC MED2006-473
   See in my notes on
   - norminalization - sentence endings, e.g. {I}, {}, {m}
     (see particle {pic~s:} 'modifier')
   - syntax - {wa-kya.s:} 'rules for sentence construction'.
     {wa-kya.} - n. gram  sentence -- MLC MED2006-473
     I suggest {wa-kya.s:} for <syntax>.

{poad-hprt} {poad-rt} n~k-ta.},  - punctuation
   I suggest {poad} be solely used for 'ortho punctuation'. See MLC MED2006-274.
   And use my coined word {waad} for English <word>.

Most of us, those with modern education such as those among the staff of Rangoon University, ended up thinking that these two modern languages, Burmese and English, which we have to use in our everyday life are so far apart that it is better to drop one almost completely. I am speaking this from the experiences of my wife and myself as university teachers for over 30 years. I notice the same with our fellow staff members -- an observation which makes me keep up with my language skills in both Burmese and English.

Contents of this page

Syllable, Word, Sentence, and Syntax

Though Bur-Myan has its basis on phonetics and phonemics, our grammarians seemed to have failed to recognized the importance of the Syllable and they have not come up with a Burmese term for it. They are content with its Pali term, {wN~Na.}.

MLC MED2006-480 gives:
{wuN~Na.} - n. 1. appearance. 2. letter, syllable [Pal ]
  {wuN~Na.da.a.ka.} - n. the decade of prime beauty in a person's life (between 21 and 30)
  {wuN~Na.lau:pa.n:} - n. elision

A. W. Lonsdale, Education Dept., Burma, in his Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis 1899 , Rangoon: British Burma Press, 1899 xii, 461, in two parts. 
  Part 1. Orthoepy (pronunciation) and orthography (spelling); Part 2. Accidence and syntax
- BG1899-indx.htm > Part 1. BG1899-1-indx.htm > Preface ... - ch00.htm
  Part 2. BG1899-2-indx.htm

Lonsdale has written:
" The Burmese language is constructed on scientific principles, and there is no reason why its grammar should not be dealt with also from a scientific standpoint. But it may be safely said that Burmese grammar as a science has not received that attention it deserves.
" With regard to the grammatical treatises by native writers, it is no exaggeration to say that there is not one which can be properly called a Burmese grammar. These writers, not content with merely borrowing the grammatical nomenclature of the Pali language [UKT 160912: it may very well be Sanskrit. See the Skt-Dev Sanskrit cases ], also attempted to assimilate the grammatical principles of the uninflected Burmese to those of the inflected Pali; so that they produced, not Burmese grammars, but modified Pali grammars in Burmese dress. The servile veneration in which they held Pali, the language they had adopted as the classic, is, no doubt, directly responsible for the composition of such works. In their endeavour to conform strictly to Pali methods, they often introduced unnecessary terms and misapplied them, ignoring those grammatical points in Burmese for which they could find no parallel in Pali. How futile their attempts were may be judged by the numerous difficulties and anomalies they created, from some of which even now teachers of the language have not quite extricated themselves - take, for instance, the case-inflexions."

For Case {ka-ra.ka.}, see:
# 1. Lonsdale Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis 1899
- BG1899-indx.htm > BG1899-2-indx.htm
  sec.087 p.052 (UKT160919: Unfortunately it is in pages I've not covered. You can read it in ink-on-paper copy in TIL library at ThantadaLan research center.)
# 2. Burmese Grammar, unnamed authors, MLC -
   TIL SD-Library PDF file 6. / bkp PDF file 6.
   pdf page 60/88 gives Syntax : Subject, S - {kt-ta:}, Verb, V - {kri.ya}, Object, O - {kn}

I, UKT, must admit that what Lonsdale has observed still stands by looking at how Bur-Myan students have to learn. The following are some definitions which a student of my father's generation had to learn.


In any spoken language, we start with a syllable {sa.ka:n-su.}, and then group the syllables into words {waad}. Then we arrange the words in a definite pattern to form a meaningful sentence {wa-kya.}.

The arrangement of words {waad} is known as syntax {wa-kya.s:}. The syntax of Bur-Myan is SOV, whereas that of English is SVO. You'll come to know what S-Subject {kt~ta:}, V-Verb {kri.ya}, & O-Object {kn} stands for in - ch01.htm .

In English-Latin the canonical structure of syllable is CVC, where the first C is known as onset-consonant, V is the peak or nuclear vowel, and the second C is the coda-consonant. However, Bur-Myan, Pali-Myan & Skt-Dev has the structure, CV, where the coda-consonant is a "killed" akshara whose inherent vowel has been killed by Virama {a.t} which I usually shorten to viram. e.g.

{ka.} क + {ka.} क --> {ka.ka.} कक  -  the sound of the cawing of a crow.
  - the akshara has a sound. It may or may not have a meaning.

{ka.} क + {ka.} क + viram --> {kak} कक्  - 'domino'
   - notice the shapes of the {a.t} , and viram ् :
    the function is the same - to kill the inherent vowel of the akshara

{ka.} क + viram +  {ka.} क --> {k~ka} क्क - no longer a syllable: cannot be pronounced
  - the first {ka.} has lost its inherent vowel and should be shown under the viram sign.
   By using a vertical conjunct the sign is hidden. The conjunct can also be written as
   a horizontal conjunct. The conjunct if preceded by another akshara can come to
   have a sound. e.g.

{ta.} त + {kka} क्क --> {tak~ka.} तक्क - part of the word {tak~ka.ol} 'university'
  - {tak~ka.} is now a disyllable and it can be pronounced.
    {tak~ka.ol} is a trisyllabic word. It's equivalent is Taxila .
   The ancient Taxila university is now in Pakistan where
    the official script is Urdu - a script that writes from right to left.
    It is not easily comparable to Sanskrit or Myanmar.

The difference between CVC and CV is due to the difference in the underlying principle of encoding between the Alphabet-Letter and the Abugida-Akshara systems of writing. The difference can be illustrated as follows between the Georgian script (Alphabet-Letter system) is changed from Myanmar script (Abugida-Akshara system), e.g.

Bur-Myan: {ta.} + viram ---> {t}
-------------- {t} --+  <a*>  --> {ta.}
-------------- {t} -- {i.}-sign --> {ti.}

Georgian: თ {t} + ი {i.} --> თი {ti.} in the name of the capital of Georgia - Tbilisi .
------------- თ {t} + ა {a.} --> თა {ta.} in the name of another place - Mtskheta

You can even say that Georgian ა {a.} is just the 'reverse' of Bur-Myan {a.t} / {a.t}-sign. It is used in place of the <a*> 'intrinsic vowel' of our consonantal-akshara.

In these lessons, we must always remember that syntax is more important than the traditional grammar definitions.


B lu-myo: r. sa.ka: mha hpric-hpric {sa.ka:n-su.} lo. hkau-t. <syllable> / hto-mha. ta.hsn. waad <word> lo. hkau-t. a.n-tw: tw hpric pau ra. t// <word> tw ha a.si-a.si tic-myo: ko leik-na ra. t// :. a.si-a.si ko <syntax> lo. hkau-t// n~ga.laip sa.ka: r. {wa-kya.s:} <syntax> ha ba.ma sa.ka: r. <syntax> n. ma.tu Bu:// <syntax> ha sa.ka:prau: n t. n-ra mha <grammar definition> tw htak a.r: kri: pa t//


a.htak mha (ba.ma sa.ka:) hso-t. a.on: a.nhon: ko on: leik ta mha:ywn: on t lo. ma.htn pa-n.// Ba-a-b da. lo. hkau-t. <Linguistics> mha a.prau: n. a.r: ko hkw:hkra: hta: t// a.hku. n-hkn:sa tw ko <Linguistics> rhu.daung. ka r:hta: ta hpric lo. (ba.ma-sa.ka:) <Burmese spoken language> n. (mrn-ma ak~hka.ra) (Myanmar akshara) to. ko hkw: hkra: prau: ra. laim. m//

Long before the electronic recording was invented, the spoken word was recorded on paper, or any suitable material, in the form of markings. The ancient Egyptians used little "pictures" to represent the words. The Chinese also use what can be described as pictures. Myanmars, and peoples of the Indian sub-continent and places as far away as Philippines use the Abugida-Akshara system of writing. English and the peoples of Europe use the Alphabet-Letter system.

The word <akshara> is derived from Sanskrit. In Burmese we use the term {ak~hka.ra} which is derived from Pali. I was told by my Bengali friends of Deep River, Ontario, Canada, that the Bengali pronunciation is also {ak~hka.ra} and not <akshara>.

The information on {ak~hka.ra} pronunciation of Bengali has led me to compare the two languages: Bengali-Bangla (the speech of country called "Bangladesh") and  Bur-Myan. Though the languages are different, many pronunciations are found to be similar. (This is just a rough observation which would have to be checked further.) This has led me to wonder if Bengali had been a Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman) language just as Burmese is. Since the two areas speaking the languages are geographically next to each other, we should expect the two populations to be using the same set of muscles in pronouncing the syllables especially the vowels.

In the country of Npal, the word for Akshara is:
अक्षर्_akṣar = अ क ् ष र ्
 - #1. A Comparative and Etymological Dictionary of Nepali Language by R L Turner, p003-004
 - #2. English to Nepal Bhasa Dictionary by Sabin Bhuju सबिन भुजु , 2005, "Alphabet" is spelled with {hka.} ākhaḥ. 
Note: #1. gives Nepali (IE) spelling, and #2. gives Nwari (Tib-Bur) spelling.

For a description of vowel production see works on Voice Quality such as The Phonetic Description of Voice quality by John Laver, Reader in the Department of Linguistics, University of Edinburgh. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, London, New York, New Rochelle, Melbourne, Sydney. 1980. First published 1980. ISBN 0 521 231 760. A photocopy of this rare book is available in the TIL library. See Voice quality in Human voice, Phonetics and Phonology
- HV-indx.htm > voice-qual.htm

This conjecture that the peoples of modern Bengal (India) , modern Myanmar and Nwar (blood relatives of Gautama Buddha) of modern Nepal, use almost the same set of muscles to produce the similar sounds could be extended to the idea that the ancient peoples of the area had spoken the languages of Tib-Bur group. Thus we would be able to conclude that the pronunciation of the Buddha would be similar to that of the people of Myanmar. And that the Pali-Myan pronunciation is more authentic than that of the so-called International Pali.

English uses the Alphabet-Letter system of writing. It has all together 26 characters - 21 consonantal-characters together with the 5 vowel-characters.

For a change listen to the pronunciation of Letters of English in a children's songs:
- For all 26 characters - in which the consonants have been made pronounceable by coupling with /a/. <))
- For 5 letters of the vowels <))
Change vowels a e i o u in Apples & Bananas and listen to the effects.

There are 33 consonantal characters in the Bur-Myan which uses Abugida-Akshara system. It has 12 vowel characters set separately from the 33 consonants.

  Bur-Myan-akshara system, or the akshara {ak~hka.ra} has 33 consonantal-characters
  Eng-Lat-alphabetic system, or the alphabet {al~fa-bakt} has 21 consonantal-characters


Contents of this page

Introduction of new aksharas for use in BEPS work

It is not the policy of TIL to introduce new glyphs at every turn of events. Yet we are seeing that we will have to "invent" three glyphs to transcribe English. These three derived with medial former {ha.} are illegal in regular Bur-Myan:

for < f- - {fa.} /f/   derived from {hp~ha.}
for < v- - {va.} /v/  derived from {b~ha.}
for < sh > - {sha.} /ʃ/ derived from {S~ha.}

Notice how I have represented the syllable {bakt} which has two coda consonants: a flag has been added. Otherwise it would become disyllabic {bak~ta.}. Regular Bur-Myan syllable has either coda- = 0 or 1 and not more. Eng-Lat coda can have up to coda-C = 3 or more. e.g., <backs> with coda-C = 3. Romabama has to follow the Eng-Lat syllable-construction.


The biggest advantage of an akshara over the alphabet is, the akshara is based on phonemic principles which are well-known in the East for thousands of years, whereas the alphabet has no such basis.


n~ga.laip sa.ka: ka. <Latin alphabet> ko on: t// da-kraung. < English-Latin> <Bur-Myan> hso-t. a.on:a.nhon: tw ko tw. ra. laim. m// <alphabet> n. <akshara> ha lon:wa. ma.tu Bu:// di a.hpric ko <linguistic> rhu.daung. n. , a.n-b-da. lo. hkau-lo. ra.t. <phonetics> rhu.daung. to. ka. kr. mha. a kwak-kwak kwn:kwn: mrn nen t//


sa.ka: prau t. a.hka a.n mhn Bo./ a.n la ta pa:sp nhoat-hkm: , a-hkn-twn: ,   nha.hkaung: sa.lo. , B n ra ka. htwak la t hso ta i.Bo. lo t// :da ko <phonemics> lo. hkau t// : ka. mha. ta. hsn. , a.n a.hsw:a.ngn , a.hprt-a.tauk sa. lo. , a.: saip-la ta ko <phonetics> lo. hkau t//


mrn-ma ak~hka.ra ko n-pon:kri: a.si-a.si n. r: rn/ a.tn: 7 tn: <7 rows>/ a.ten 5 ten <5 columns> n. r: t// : lo r: ta ko n~hkya a.on: a.nhoan: a.ra. <matrix> lo. hkau t/ mrn-ma ak~hka.ra ko <7r x 5c matrix> lo. hkau t//


kau-ln a. leik <r1-c5> {nga.} mha. <r4-c5> {na.} a.hti. nha-hkaung: n tw ko tw. ra. laim. m// htu: hsn: ta ka. <Mon-Myan> a.n tw mha {Na.} ka. lw: lo. {ng}, {}, {n}, {m} hpric n ta ko tw. ra. ta hpric t//

Listen to all the 7x5 sounds <)) of Mon-Myan akshara, and try to pick out the rows:
1. velar {kN~HTa.} r1<))
2. palatal {ta-lu.} r2<))
4. dental {dn~ta.} r4<))
5. labial {AT~HTa.} r5<))


a.n hpric t. n ra tw ha a-hkn-twn: mha. ta.hpr: hpr: a.prn Bak o. htwak la ta ko tw ra. laim. m//


a.hku. n-hkn: sa tw ha  <phonemics> a.hky hkn shi. t. mrn-ma sa ko tt kywm: u tw a.twak a.lwun lw ku pa t//


mrn-ma sa ma.tt kywum: : t. hka.l: tw a.twak ma. hoat Bu://


a.n hpa.lh <transcription> loap t. n-ra mha <English-Latin alphabet> r. hkyo.t. mhu. kraung. a.hkak a.hk: a.mya.kri: tw. ra. pa t// da.kraung. mrn-ma lu-a.m , mro.a.m , n. d-a.a.m to. ko n~ga.laip lo a.myo:myo: sa-lon: paung: kra. ta ko tw. ra.pa-t //

To overcome the deficiencies of the European-languages, linguists have to invent a phonetic alphabet known as the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA ).


B n ra mha <English-Latin alphabet> hkyo. t. n a. l: hso rng {nga.}-n /ŋ/ (velar), {}-n  /ɲ/ (palatal plosive-stop) , n. {a.}-n /?/ (palatal approximant) to. ko pra. Bo. <letter of alphabet> ma.shi. ta hpric t//


na.mu-na a.n n. n~ga.laip sa-lon: <sing> ht ka. <ng> mha {ga.}-n ma. Bu://


pra. sa. ra <alphabet-letter> ma. shi. lo. nhic.lon: tw: <digraph ng> n. r: ra. t// mrn-ma a.mya: prau: n-a.lo {ga.}-n ht. prau: rn mha: t// a.htauk a.hta: <DJPD16 p.490> ko kr. pa//


U.rau:pa. teik <European continent> mha. sa.ka: sa mya: pric kra. t. <English-Latin>, <French-Latin>, <Spanish-Latin> to. ko tic.hku. mha. tic.hku. o. a.n hpa.lh Bo. pru. loap t. a. hka mha tw. ra. t. a.hkak a.hk: tw ko kyau lwuan Bo. <alphabet> tic.myo: ko ti-htwn hk. kra. ra. t// :da ko <International Phonetic Alphabet = IPA> lo. hkau pa t//


<Bur-Myan> mha nha-hkaung: n 5 hku. rhi. t// <English-Latin> mha tau. 3 hku. a shi. lo. <English native speakers> tw <transcription> loap t. hka doak~hka. rauk kra. ra. t// u-to. a.hkak-a.hk: shi. kra. ta. ka. {nga.}, {a.}, {a.}, n. {Na.} to. hpric kra. t//


{nga.} ha <IPA ŋ (U014B) velar nasal consonant> hpric pa t//


  {a.} ha < IPA ɲ (U0272) palatal nasal consonant> hpric pa t// <Spanish-Latin> mha < IPA ɲ > n. r: ta. ko a. sw: pru. pri: <Romabama> mha r: pa t// <English-Latin alphabet> mha tau. :di. a.n ko pra. sa. ra ma.rhi. lo <diagraph ny > n. r: kra. ra. t//


{a.} ka. tau. <palatal> oap su. mha pa p m. <approximant consonant> hpric n ta ko tw. ra. pa t// {a.}-akshara r. nn B: o. rauk wa: pa t//


nauk-tic hku. ka. tau. {Na.} <IPA ɳ (U0273) retroflex nasal consonant> hpric pa t//

These three IPA symbols are so alike that the little TIL mascot is reduced to saying:

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's 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!


(U014B) lo a.mht a.a: ha <Unicode font> nn-paat hpric t// <Unicode font> a.kraung: ka. <computer, information technology> a.ma: tw n. a hsen lo. a.hku. n-hkn:sa tw mha ma. shn: pra. tau. Bu://

IPA /ŋ/ - velar nasal (the most interior of the mouth at soft-palate or velum). The most prominent part in the interior of the mouth is the uvula  {lhya-hkn} . It is attached to the velum. Though IPA /ŋ/ is now identified with Bur-Myan {nga.} & Mon-Myan {ng.}, it is not entirely correct. {nga.} has some prominent /g/ element which reminds us of the two English words <sign> and <sing>, and rendering of the name of a village near my birthplace. The village is known as Gnak'aw'san {gnak.au-sm} 'the natural spring where the birds sing'.

IPA /ɲ/ - palatal nasal (to the front of the most interior of the mouth at hard-palate or palate) - {a.}

IPA /ɳ/ - retroflex nasal (still moving towards the front of the mouth at palate) - Bur-Myan {Na.}

Please note that until about a few decades ago, the furthest most you can see of the interior of the mouth of a living person is the area around uvula and velum. And so the places of production or articulation (POA) that could be observed that could be described by ancient phoneticians were those of the consonants only. Vowels are produced in the interior, the voice box or larynx producing them in a living person was not seen until modern times. Therefore how the vowels are produced by a living person is not well described. Yet the ancients knew that the vowels were produced deep in the throat.

From: R. M. Krauss Source-Filter Theory 
- http://www.columbia.edu/itc/psychology/rmk/T2/sf_theory.html 071224
Listen to the buzzing of the vocal folds sounds like before it enters the vocal tract,  - Krauss-exit<))
Listen to the filtering action of the vocal tract, - Krauss-filter<))
Listen to the resultant speech, - Krauss-speech<))

Much of our knowledge of the larynx and the muscles controlling them is from the surgery of the cancerous parts of the larynx. This is a point not generally appreciated by most linguists (grammarians) especially those from Myanmarpre especially like my friend U Tun Tint of the MLC who always insists that the "sounds" of Pali have been well described. To them my answer is: no one really knows the sounds of the ancient Pali or Magadhi (the speech of Gautama Buddha) -- no voice recording machines have been made until recently. And the usual way of saying that such and such is the "sound of Pali" is not only wrong but very misleading.


a:lon:hkyon prau:ra. rn a.hku. n-hkn:sa tw ha mrn-ma tw tw. n kra. <grammar> ma.hoat-Bu: hso ta hpric pa-t//

I admit what little Peanut telling Daisy is just boring:

 "Now, Daisy, my little pet", 
     said little Peanut seeing Daisy going to sleep.
  "Wake up and learn your Alphabet!
  "ka.gyi: , kka.hkw: , ga.ng ...
  "b ma. l: kw. Daisy r ?"
Daisy has run away - not to be seen for some 60 years.

UKT 150705: Daisy Than, Barbara Soe - another childhood friend, and I parted when we changed school in 1948. We were all just over 10. I met Daisy only in 2006 and we have been continuing our friendship. As for Barbara, I heard that she committed suicide in 1955. I was already an Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry Dept., Univ. of Rangoon. I had jumped ahead of them in 1950 when I matriculated. They had had their trust in the Burmese educational system in force then. If only they had taken Chemistry as one of their courses in Rangoon University, they would have had a taste of their old classmate's radical methods of teaching.

Undaunted Little Peanut concluded his knowledge of Grammar is not enough. He decided to learn more: his choice is Bur-Myan grammar. The result is what you can expect - the Failing Grade!


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Articulatory Phonetics and Acoustic Phonetics

- UKT 150720

Comparing the Bur-Myan grammar of Lonsdale of 1899, and that of today 2013, on Orthoepy and orthography, see pages 281 of BG-MLC {HTaan}, {ka.reiN:}, and {pa.yak},

{HTaan} - n. place of articulation - MLC MED2006-160
{ka.reiN:} - n. 1 gram. means of articulation (usually with ref. to tongue) - MLC MED2006-006
{pa.yat} - n. gram. manner of articulation - MLC MED2006-251

We can very well see that Grammar as is taught relies only on Articulatory Phonetics, and not at all on Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics. However, for BEPS work, we need to look into Theoretical Linguistics. We need to know how speech-sound is 1. produced, 2. transmitted, and 3. perceived.

I have looked into this aspect in Section 1 : Human voice and languages. See: Tun Institute of Learning -  http://www.tuninst.net/ , which is continually updated.
Or in Human voice, Phonetics and Phonology
- indx-HV.htm (active link on TIL computers. Chk 150720)
and look into its sub-heads:
- Human sound production [former hv1.htm] - human-snd.htm (active link on TIL computers. Chk 150720)
In the above is a note on Panini, who was listed as a Sanskrit grammarian, but is now recognized as the father of modern Linguistics. I have taken the following from Human sound production :
Panini should be thought of as the forerunner of the modern formal language theory used to specify computer languages. The Backus Normal Form was discovered independently by John Backus (1924-2007) in 1959, but Panini's notation is equivalent in its power to that of Backus and has many similar properties. It is remarkable to think that concepts which are fundamental to today's theoretical computer science should have their origin with an Indian genius around 2500 years ago.

The following is a review with my additions on Articulatory, Acoustics and Auditory Phonetics

Based on a review from: Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. Founded in 1969
- http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/lili/personen/vgramley/teaching/HTHS/review.pdf 150720
TIL library has a downloaded copy pdf<>

When we look at speech-sounds, we look at how it is 1. produced, 2. transmitted, and 3. perceived
1. Articulatory phonetics looks at the production side (how speech sounds are, for example, articulated)
2. Acoustic phonetics looks at the transmission of these sounds (what are the acoustic properties of speech duration, frequency, energy (all physical properties
3. Auditory phonetics looks at how humans perceive theses speech sounds (what happens in the ear)

We have to  know the physical properties of the human vocal-sound. Some of these can be measured by instruments. Relying on human linguists and language teachers (the so-called native-speakers), who cannot overcome the influence of their mother tongue, L1, has made the inter-language transcription, such as between Bur-Myan and Eng-Latin, a mess.

Acoustic Phonetics

fundamental frequency (Hz)
intensity (dB)
duration (t)

Auditory phonetics

pitch (how high or low do we perceive a sound)
loudness (how loud or soft do we perceive a sound)
speech tempo (how fast or slow we perceive a speech signal)


The amplitude is simply a displacement of the vibrating medium from its rest position. It refers to the maximum amount of displacement of a particle on the medium from its rest position. In a sense, the amplitude is the distance from rest to crest (positives Maximum). Similarly, the amplitude can be measured from the rest position to the trough (negatives Maximum) position.

A human child even when it was developing as an embryo in its mother womb starts to hear its mother voice most of the time. Then it would start to recognized its father's voice. Occasionally, it would start to hear other voices. Usually they would be speaking in normal voices. Of course, it would not understand the language. What it would start to recognized is to differentiate the nature of the sound.

Mother's voice comparable to - nasal<))
Father's voice comparable to - pharyngeal<))
normal voice - modal<))

After leaving the womb the newly born child would start to associate the voices with faces. It would experiment articulating all kinds of sounds.

Contents of this page

UKT notes

International Phonetic Alphabet and Association

n. Abbr. IPA I.P.A. 1. A phonetic alphabet and diacritic modifiers sponsored by the International Phonetic Association to provide a uniform and universally understood system for transcribing the speech sounds of all languages. -- AHTD

In 1886, in Paris, a small group of language teachers formed an association to encourage the use of phonetic notation in schools to help children acquire realistic pronunciations of foreign languages and also to aid in teaching reading to young children. The group, led by Paul Passy, called itself initially Dhi Fontik Tcerz' Ascicon (the FTA). In January 1889, the name of the Association was changed to L'Association Phontique des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes (AP), and, in 1897, to L'Association Phontique Internationale (API) ?in English, the International Phonetic Association (IPA).

The IPAs peak of membership and influence in education circles was around 1914, when there were 1751 members in 40 countries. World War I and its aftermath severely disrupted the Association's activities, and the Journal did not resume regular publication until 1922.

The groups initial aim was to create a set of phonetic symbols to which different articulations could apply, such that each language would have an alphabet particularly suited to describe the sounds of the language. Eventually it was decided that a universal alphabet, with the same symbol being used for the same sound in different languages was the ideal, and development of the International Phonetic Alphabet progressed rapidly up to the turn of the 20th century. Since then, there have been several sets of changes to the Alphabet, with additions and deletions that the progress of the science of phonetics has indicated. -- Wikipedia 070710

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Palatal nasal: IPA [ ɲ ]

-- UKT 070710, 080815, 150715

There are two contenders for the cell r2c5 in the Akshara matrix: Nya'le {a.}, and Nya'gyi {a.}. Working with this problem for years has convinced me that it is only Nya'le {a.} that is true occupier of r2c5. Nya'gyi {a.} is an approximant and should be placed by the side of Ya'palak {ya.} as a palatal, and Ya'palak {ya.} itself be moved to velar position. I arrived at this conclusion from a study of killed aksharas, {y} & {{}.

From Wikipedia 070710

IPA [] / [] (upper / lower case ) ( / {a.kri:/ a.l:}) are represented by graphemes of the modern Roman alphabet formed by an N or n  with a diacritical tilde. They are used in the Spanish alphabet, where it precisely represents a palatal nasal (IPA: [ ɲ ]). Unlike many other alphabets that use diacritic marks (such as in Astur-Leonese or in Tagalog), in Spanish, is considered a letter in its own right, with its own name (ee) and its own place in the alphabet (after N).
   The palatal nasal sound is roughly reminiscent of as /nj/ as in "onion" IPA: [ˈʌnjən]. This description is enough to give a rough idea of the sound, but it is not precise (it is the equivalent of giving the pronunciation of the English word "shot" as "syot").

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatal_nasal 080815

The palatal nasal is a type of consonant, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɲ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is J. The IPA symbol is a lowercase letter n with a leftward-pointing tail protruding from the bottom of the left stem of the letter. Compare n and ɲ. The symbol ɲ should not be confused with ɳ, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, or with ŋ, the symbol for the velar nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem. In Spanish and languages whose writing systems are influenced by Spanish orthography, this sound is represented with the letter ee ().

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Particle & Norminalization

- UKT 121122, 150722

What is the equivalent of grammatical Particle in Bur-Myan? The following the definition given by MLC, and examples


UKT translation: 32. {pic~s:} is the grammatical term denoting a qualifier that adds more information to the noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb.

Now from Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_language#Particles 121122, 150722 , 160921

The Bur-Myan language makes prominent usage of particles (called {pic~s:} in Burmese), which are untranslatable words that are suffixed or prefixed to words to indicate level of respect, grammatical tense, or mood. According to the MyanmarEnglish Dictionary (1993), there are 449 particles in the Burmese language. [UKT ]

For example,

{sm:}, is a grammatical particle used to indicate the imperative mood.
{loap} 'to work'
{loap sm} 'you do it' - the imperative mood does not indicate politeness
{loap pa} 'you do it' - the imperative mood is now more polite: 'please do it'

Particles may be combined in some cases, especially those modifying verbs.

Some particles modify the word's part of speech. Among the most prominent of these is the particle {a.}, which is prefixed to verbs and adjectives to form nouns or adverbs. Unlike Pali, {a.} does not mean negation. For instance, the word {wing} 'to enter' but in combination as {a.wn} 'entrance'. Combination  {a.loap} 'work'. Here the particle {a.} has turned verbs into nouns.

UKT: Continue reading on Normalization below

I have always been intrigued by sentence endings such as {I}, {}, {m}. A Bur-Myan sentence ends with such endings. What are they? They are Particles {pic~s:}, and in linguistic terms they are known as norminalizers. The following are two articles on Normalization in Bur-Myan language.

From: Normalization of Myanmar Grammatical Categories for Part-of-Speech Tagging, by Ms. Phyu Hninn Myint, Ms. Tin Myat Htwe, & Ms. Ni Lar Thein (Univ. of Computer Studies, Yangon, Myanmar), International Journal of Computer Applications (0975 8887), Volume 36 No.1, December 2011. See downloaded 150722, in TIL SD-Library - Normalizers-BurMyan<> / bkp<> (link chk 160913)

2.4 Particle

The Myanmar language makes prominent usage of particles {pic~s:}, which are untranslatable words that are suffixed or prefixed to words to indicate level of respect, grammatical tense, or mood. According to the Myanmar-English Dictionary, there are 449 particles in the Myanmar language. For example, {p:} is a grammatical particle used to indicate the imperative mood. While {loap-pa} ("work" + particle indicating politeness) does not indicate the imperative,   {loap-p:pa} ("work" + particle indicating imperative mood + particle indicating politeness) does. Particles may be combined in some cases, especially those modifying verbs.

Some particles modify the word's part of speech. Among the most prominent of these is the particle {a.} , which is prefixed to verbs and adjectives to form nouns or adverbs. For instance, the word {wing} means "to enter," but combined with {a.}, it means "entrance" {a.wing}. Also, the second {a.} in words can follow the pattern {a.} + noun/adverb + {a.} + noun/adverb, like {a.hsauk-a.on}.

From:  The Grammaticalization of Nominalizers in Burmese by Andrew Simpson, Professor of Linguistics & East Asian Languages and Cultures, http://victoria.linguistlist.org/~lapolla/nw/Simpson.doc 080622, 121123 (link no longer working on 150722). However, you can read the entire paper in TIL format (080805) online
-- http://www.tuninst.net/GRAM-GLOSS/N/Simpson-nominalize.htm#Cont-this-pg 160913
Also read in TIL SD-Library - ASimpson-DPs-SEAsianLang2005<> / bkp<> (link chk 160916)

The term nominalizer is a purely functional label which is appropriately used to refer to all those morphemes/words which have the specific function of creating a nominal morpho-syntactic form as the result of their combination with other kinds of non-nominal input, as indicated in (1):

   (1) A nominalizer: a morpheme whose primary function is to convert a non-nominal input form into a nominal category.

Nominal categories, and hence the presence of functional elements which may be nominalizers, can in turn be identified in two basic ways: (a) through the occurrence of noun-like/nominal morphological patterns, and/or (b) via syntactic privileges otherwise commonly associated with nouns and their syntactic projections.
... ... ...

    (2) Morphological indications that a syntactic constituent is nominal:
 i.  the occurrence of case inflections on a constituent
ii. possible pluralization/plural-marking of the constituent
iii. possible enumeration of the constituent (combination of the constituent with numerals)
iv. the potential occurrence of demonstratives and adjectives with the constituent, rather than complementizers and adverbs
v. use of case-marking strategies associated specifically with nouns in the marking of arguments of the noun (e.g. use of possessive/Genitive case to mark the nouns arguments rather than Nominative/Accusative case)

Syntactically, a complex constituent may be identified as a nominal phrase if it shows the distribution of other simplex phrases that are clearly nominal, for example, the ability to occur in subject position, or the ability to be co-ordinated with other clearly nominal categories. If other, non-nominal categories such as verbal/adjectival phrases are regularly excluded from such positions, but a verbal/adjectival phrase in combination with some additional morpheme is found to allow for occurrence in subject position/co-ordination with other noun-phrases, this may be taken as reasonable evidence for the nominalized status of the complex constituent, and for the nominalizing function of the morpheme combined with the verb/adjective and their dependents.
... ... ...

3.0. Nominalization in Burmese

Having considered some of the general issues involved in the study of nominalization and the grammaticalization of nominalizers in a language, we now turn to an investigation of nominalization phenomena in Bur-Myan. The discussion here will focus in particular on the sentential/clausal nominalizers present in the language, as these can be shown to reveal much about the way reanalysis applies to create complex new grammaticalized morphemes/words, and give rise to shifts between categorical types. [i]   As briefly mentioned in the introduction, Bur-Myan is commonly described as having two complementary forms: Colloquial Burmese and Literary Burmese.

3.1 Sentential nominalizers in Literary Burmese:
the elements thii {} and mii {m}

In Literary Burmese, the morpheme thii  {} occurs in clause-final position, both in main clauses (as a sentence-final morpheme), and when clauses are embedded as arguments of other predicates:

(8) U-Win {U:wing:} manee-ga {ma.n.ka.} yauq-laa {rauk-la} thii {}
 --- (U-Win-Win) (yesterday-PAST) (arrive-come) (THII)
 --- U Win Win arrived yesterday.

When thii is used to embed clauses as the arguments of a predicate, it is naturally accompanied by a case-marker. [i] Examples (9) and (10) show this with the embedding of clauses as the object of a verb, and (11) and (12) with the embedding of a clause in subject position. [ii] It should also be noted that the use of thii in all of (8-12) is obligatory and clauses may not occur as the arguments of verbs without this morpheme :

(9)  canaw {kya.nau} {U:wing:} {ma.n.ka.} 
-  ----- {rauk-la} {}]-kou  {ko}
--  ---- caa  {kra:} ya  {ra.} thii {} 
----- ( I ) (U-Win) (yesterday-PAST) (arrive-come) (THII) (ACC) (hear) (get) (THII)
      I heard that U Win Win arrived yesterday.

UKT 080622: the example given is not strictly formal. It is verbal and a pause is needed between {kya.nau} & {U:wing:}. In a written statement this pause would be filled with {}. Secondly, the use of the word {kya.nau} is also verbal: in the literary form it is {kywun-tau}. The second-member of the combined word {rauk-la} is not strictly 'come'. It is to show that the 'arrival' is a fact.

UKT: More in the original paper.

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Sanskrit as computer language

UKT 121128: I always look on newspaper articles with suspicion. They are useful for general information only. Until I see a piece of information in a well-reputed academic or scientific journal, all facts posted below must be taken with caution.

From: News article in Jagran Post - an online newspaper
Posted on: 26 Mar 2012, 04:13 PM

Agra: Very soon the traditional Indian language Sanskrit will be a part of the space, with the United States of America (USA) mulling to use it as computer language at NASA. After the refusal of the Indian Sanskrit scholars to help them acquire command over the language, US has urged its young generation to learn Sanskrit.

On visit to Agra, Aurobindo Foundation (Indian Culture) Puducherry Director Sampadananda Mishra told Dainik Jagran about the prospects of Sanskrit. Mishra said, In 1985, NASA scientist Rick Briggs had invited 1,000 Sanskrit scholars from India for working at NASA. But scholars refused to allow the language to be put to foreign use.

According to Rick Briggs, Sanskrit is such a language in which a message can be sent by the computer in the least number of words.

After the refusal of Indian experts to offer any help in understanding the scientific concept of the language, American kids were imparted Sanskrit lessons since their childhood.

The NASA website also confirms its Mission Sanskrit and describes it as the best language for computers. The website clearly mentions that NASA has spent a large sum of time and money on the project during the last two decades.

The scientists believe that Sanskrit is also helpful in speech therapy besides helping in mathematics and science. It also improves concentration. The alphabets used in the language are scientific and their correct pronunciation improves the tone of speech. It encourages imagination and improves memory retention also.

Mishra told the daily that even the call centre employees are improving their voice by reading Sanskrit, besides the language being used by news readers, film and theatre artist for alternative voice remedy.


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Syllable {sa.ka:n-su.} 'group of speech-units'
Always differentiate {sa.ka:} 'speech' from {sa} 'script'

-- UKT: 121128, 150723

The syllable is the most basic idea in Abugida or Akshara system of writing. Yet it is not given a prominent place in Bur-Myan grammar.

n. Abbr. syl. syll. 1. Linguistics a. A unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound formed by a vowel, diphthong, or syllabic consonant alone, or by any of these sounds preceded, followed, or surrounded by one or more consonants. b. One or more letters or phonetic symbols written or printed to approximate a spoken syllable. 2. The slightest bit of spoken or written expression: Do not alter a syllable of this message. v. tr. syllabled syllabling syllables Linguistics 1. To pronounce in syllables. [Middle English sillable from Anglo-Norman alteration of Old French sillabe from Latin syllaba from Greek sullab ē from sullabein, second aorist of sullambanein to combine in pronunciation sun- syn- lambanein to take]

MLC in its MED2006-480 gives <syllable> as {wN~Na.} -- a term which almost all, including myself at one time, knows as "beautiful appearance". Clearly we need another term for it. I suggest {sa.ka:su.} 'group of speech-units', from which we get <monosyllable> {-ka.sa.ka:su.}, <disyllable> {dwi.sa.ka:su.}, and <polysyllable> {ba.hu.sa.ka:su.} .

Unless you know the pronunciation of a word, you cannot count the number of syllables in it. Since, the pronunciation can vary from place to place, from country to country, and from a time-period to another, the syllable count can differ. This is especially true in loan words. Always consult a pronouncing dictionary like Daniel Jones Pronouncing Dictionary which I have made the standard for my works: English Pronouncing Dictionary by Daniel Jones. 16th ed. Edited by Peter Roach, James Hartman and Jane Setter. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

As an example of a word (example given in UseE - http://www.usingenglish.com/ ), let's take <elevate>. Look in AHTD, which gives elevate -- three syllables. Thus <elevate> is a tri-syllabic word.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllable 121128

A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word <water> is composed of two syllables: <wa> and <ter>. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants).

An Eng-Lat syllable has the canonical form CVC, whereas Bur-Myan, Pal-Myan, & Skt-Dev syllables have CV, where has its inherent vowel  killed by virama aka {a.t}. -- UKT

Syllables are often considered the phonological "building blocks" of words. They can influence the rhythm of a language, its prosody, its poetic meter and its stress patterns.

Syllabic writing began several hundred years before the first letters [UKT: alphabet]. The earliest recorded syllables are on tablets written around 2800 BC in the Sumerian city of Ur. This shift from pictograms to syllables has been called "the most important advance in the history of writing". [1]

A word that consists of a single syllable (like English <dog>) is called a monosyllable (and is said to be monosyllabic). Similar terms include disyllable (and disyllabic) for a word of two syllables; trisyllable (and trisyllabic) for a word of three syllables; and polysyllable (and polysyllabic), which may refer either to a word of more than three syllables or to any word of more than one syllable.

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

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Syntax = {wa-kya.s:} (TIL-coined word)

-- UKT 121120, 150723

Many of us have heard about this word: syntax. Yet, I, for one did not know what it actually is. As usual let's turn to a dictionary - I always have a dictionary on my computer hard disk, otherwise, I am too lazy to look up in an ink-on-paper printed book.

n. 1. a. The study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are combined to form grammatical sentences. -- AHTD

A. W. Lonsdale 1899, p.002, states: " {ka-ra.ka.kp~pa.} -- Rules concerning the necessary relations of words in a sentence. Let's get more.

Written by UKT based on:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syntax 121120
(You should also look into: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_language 121121)

Modern research in syntax attempts to describe languages in terms of such rules. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural languages. The term syntax is also used to refer to the rules governing the behavior of mathematical systems, such as formal languages used in logic. (See Logical syntax).

Works on grammar were written long before modern syntax came about; the Aṣṭādhyāyī of the Indian linguist  Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} (fl. about the time of Gautama Buddha) is often cited as an example of a pre-modern work that approaches the sophistication of a modern syntactic theory. Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.} was responsible for formulating Vedic [probably a Tib-Bur language] into classical Sanskrit [a confirmed Indo-European language].

I had always wonder what Vedic was. It was the oldest language, committed to memory, used for composing Vedic hymns - to the three principal deities: Indra (the king of heavenly beings - or deva and asura), Agni (the messenger between devas and humans), and Soma (the health drink which has now degenerated into an alcoholic drink. I think Soma may be the deva who cools human passions and sorrows.). Was Vedic Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman) or IE (Indo-European)? How was it connected to Bur-Myan? The way Vedic hymns are recited, and the way we recite our Parrita are quite similar, e.g. Gayatri mantra & the Peacock Paritta. 

In the West, the school of thought that came to be known as "traditional grammar" began with the work of Greek grammarian Dionysius Thrax. (170 BC 90 BC) who appeared on the scene many centuries later after Pāṇini {pa-Ni.ni.}. So the question remains: Were the Indians getting knowledge from the Greeks or the other way around?

One of the modern approach to language was pioneered by Noam Chomsky. Most generative theories (although not all of them) assume that syntax is based upon the constituent structure of sentences. Generative grammars are among the theories that focus primarily on the form of a sentence, rather than its communicative function.

Grammar in Plain English

UKT: Now a word on Grammar in Plain English on which I have based my work.

Though the English text is almost entirely from Barron, the explanations in Romabama, are mine. What I am trying to do here is to prescribe Barron, and to go through it giving explanations in Bur-Myan (Burmese-Myanmar). However, because of the difficulty of presenting the Bur-Myan font on the internet, I have to resort to Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma} - not {rau:ma.ba.ma} - which started out as a transliteration, but which has evolved into a transcription. I have been putting it to a severe test by going into Skt-Dev (Sanskrit-Devanagari) in A. A. Macdonell A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. One advantage of using Romabama is due to the phonetic nature of the Myanmar script itself, because of which I can give the pronunciations of English words in Romabama instead of in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). After making some progress, I have started out to experiment with Mon-Myan.

Excerpt from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_language 121121

The basic word order of the Bur-Myan sentence {wa-kya.} (MLC MED2006-473) is SOV (Subject-Object-Verb). Pronouns in Bur-Myan vary according to the gender and status of the audience. Bur-Myan is monosyllabic (i.e., every word is a root to which a particle but not another word may be prefixed). [16] Sentence structure determines syntactical relations and verbs are not conjugated. Instead they have particles suffixed to them. For example, the verb "to eat," {sa:} (ca: [s] is itself unchanged when modified.

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TAM : Tense, Aspect, Mode

-- by UKT 121121, 160922

Tense is not important in Bur-Myan. English-Latin has simple tenses, but in Skt-Dev (& probably Pali) tenses are more complex. Moreover there are two very similar terms, Aspect & Mode, with which tense across languages got fuzzy. Please remember, I am not a grammarian in all the languages of BEPS. Therefore, I can only quote from what I consider to be reliable sources:

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_tense 080526, 091221

Grammatical tense is a temporal {a.hkyain ka-la. pra.} linguistic quality expressing the time at, during, or over which a state {hpric hs:} or action {loap rp} denoted by a verb occurs.

Tense is one of at least five qualities, along with mood, voice, aspect, and person, which verb forms may express.

Tenses cannot always be translated from one language to another. While verbs in all languages have typical forms by which they are identified and indexed in dictionaries, usually the most common present tense or an infinitive, their meanings vary among languages.

There are languages (such as isolating languages, like Chinese [UKT: Bur-Myan included?]) in which tense is not used, but implied in temporal adverbs when needed, and some (such as Japanese) in which temporal information appears in the inflection of adjectives, lending them a verb-like quality. In some languages (such as Russian) a simple verb may indicate aspect and tense.

UKT: For languages like Bur-Myan (contrast with English-Latin), I'll have to use the term "non-past tense" or "nonpast tense", which I have first come across in Wikipedia. It is indicated by .
   Linguistics is very confusing because of similar words, which are not the same, but being described by closely related words. Here for deciding how to describe Bur-Myan, I need to to know (the following are from the same Wikipedia article  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolating_language 121121):

   Isolating language : a type of language with a low morpheme-per-word ratio in the extreme case of an isolating language words are composed of a single morpheme. If English were an isolating language, "handshakes" might be rendered as "shake of hand s", with each morpheme forming a separate word. -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolating_language 150716

   Analytic language : in the extreme case does not use any inflections to indicate grammatical relationships (but which may still form compound words or may change the meanings of individual words with derivational morphemes, either of which processes gives more than one morpheme per word). [UKT: Wikipedia states clearly that Burmese is an analytic language. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_language 121121]

   Synthetic language : where words often consist of multiple morphemes. That linguistic classification is subdivided into the classifications fusional, agglutinative, and polysynthetic, which are based on how the morphemes are combined.

   The same article has analyzed the Bur-Myan using the sentence:

"Tomorrow my friend will bake a birthday cake for me."

Literal :

  {ma.nak-hpn} {kywun-noap.} {I} ------ {u-ng-hkying:} {}
  tomorrow ------------- me +(subordinating particle) --- friend +(subject particle)

  {mw:n.} {kaik} {ta.} {bn:} --- {hpoak} {p:} {m} //
  birthday -------- cake ---- one +(classifier) -- bake ------ give +(future tense particle) //

. pronoun generally used for males -
. Literary form {IE}. Colloquial form {r.}
. Literary form {m}. Colloquial form {m}
4. Literary form {}. Colloquial form {ka.}
- Note: I have given the equivalent colloquial sentence below. What is considered colloquial in Yangon & Mandalay are regular forms in dialects like Inntha.

Colloquial :

  {ma.nak-hpn} {ngaa.} {r.} ------------------ {u-ng-hkying:} {ka.}
  tomorrow ------------- me +(subordinating particle) -- friend + (subject particle)

  {mw:n.} {kaik} {ta.} {bn:} --- {hpoak} {p:} {m} //
  birthday -------- cake ---- one +(classifier) -- bake ------ give +(future tense particle) //

The number of tenses in a language may be controversial, since its verbs may indicate qualities of uncertainty, frequency, completion, duration, possibility, and even whether information derives from experience or hearsay.

UKT: There were more in the above Wikipedia articles. However, when I access Wikipedia articles again, I am finding lots have been changed.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_tense 121121
UKT: There is no mention of Burmese, Pali or Sanskrit.

In grammar, tense is a category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place. [1] [note 1] Tense is the grammaticalisation of time reference, and in general is understood to have the three delimitations of [UKT]

"before now", i.e. the past 
"now", i.e. the present 
"after now", i.e. the future.

The "unmarked" reference for tense is the temporal distance from the time of utterance, the "here-and-now", this being absolute-tense.[UKT ]

Relative-tense indicates temporal distance from a point of time established in the discourse that is not the present, i.e. reference to a point in the past or future, such as the future-in-future, or the future of the future (at some time in the future after the reference point, which is in the future) and future-in-past or future of the past (at some time after a point in the past, with the reference point being a point in the past).

Not all languages grammaticalise tense, and those that do differ in their grammaticalisation thereof. [UKT ]

Not all grammaticalise the three-way system of pastpresentfuture. [UKT ]

For example, two-tense languages such as English and Japanese express past and non-past, this latter covering both present and future in one verb form. [UKT ]

Four-tense languages make finer distinctions either in the past (e.g. remote vs recent past), or the future (e.g. near vs remote future). [UKT ]

The six-tense language Kalaw Lagaw Ya of Australia has the remote past, the recent past, the today past, the present, the today/near future and the remote future. [UKT ]

The differences between such finer distinctions are the distance on the timeline between the temporal reference points from the present.

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tense-aspect-mood 121121

Tenseaspectmood, commonly abbreviated tam and also called tensemodalityaspect or tma, is the grammatical system in a language that covers the expression of tense (location in time), aspect (fabric of time a single block of time, continuous flow of time, or repetitive occurrence), and mood or modality (degree of necessity, obligation, probability, ability). [1] In some cases, evidentiality (whether evidence exists for the statement, and if so what kind) may also be included.

The term is convenient because it is often difficult to untangle these features of a language. Often any two of tense, aspect, and mood (or all three) may be conveyed by a single grammatical construction; but this system may not be complete in that not all possible combinations may have an available construction. In other cases there may not be clearly delineated categories of tense and mood, or aspect and mood.

For instance, many Indo-European languages do not clearly distinguish tense from aspect. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]  [8] [9] [10] In some languages, such as Spanish and Modern Greek, the imperfective aspect as a whole is fused with the past tense in a form traditionally called the imperfect. This fusion can occur because the imperfective aspect only exists in the past tense. Other languages with distinct past imperfectives include Latin and Persian.

Not all languages conflate [or bring together] tense, aspect, and mood, however; close to a theoretically ideal distinction, with separate grammatical markers for tense, aspect, and/or mood, is made in many analytic languages such as Mandarin Chinese and creole languages [UKT: Bur-Myan included?].

Much has been said on languages. Now is Bur-Myan an analytic language?. Wikipedia in the following:
"Burmese is a tonal, pitch-register, and syllable-timed language, [3] largely monosyllabic and analytic language, with a subjectobjectverb word order." --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_languag 121121

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

From: http://www.wordsmyth.net/?ent=aspect 160922

In grammar, a category of verb inflections, such as past perfect and past progressive, that indicate whether an action or state is ended or continues, is singular or repeated, and the like. "Walked" and "was walking" are both past tense forms of the verb "walk," but they differ with respect to aspect.

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