Update: 2016-05-01 02:12 PM -0400


Grammatical notes & vocabulary
of the Peguan language to which are added a few pages of phrases, etc., 1874


-- by U Kyaw Tun (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA) and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, Yangon, MYANMAR. 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

1.  Grammatical notes and Vocabulary of the Peguan Language, to which are added a few pages of phrases, etc., by Haswell, J.M., ABM Press (American Baptist Mission Press), Rangoon, 1874
- MonMyan-Haswell-gramm-notes-vocab<> (link chk 151013)

index.htm | Top
  MonMyan-indx.htm / MV1874-indx.htm 

Contents of this page 

CAUTION: I am learning the language, without a human guide on hand, and you should not take my observations as wholly correct. I haven't found a suitable one to join my research group in Yangon. -- UKT 130403

Coda consonants
Medials and Conjuncts
Medial-conjunct formers
Modification of vowel sounds by coda
  Checking the {a.wuN} vowels :
  Checking the {a.a.wuN} vowels :

Contents of this page

Noteworthy passages:

There is no <g> in the language save {ngra.} which as an initial has the sound <gn> (the <g> being fully sounded.) As a final it has the sound of <ng>.

UKT notes :
Retroflex - the sing-song of Dental


Contents of this page
middle of p003


UKT 140525, 151021:

(p003cont) / pdf 028
The following are the only vowels used with final consonants:

(p003end-p004begin) : UKT note: Haswell Table of Consonants is on 2 consecutive pages.

UKT 140516: glyphs in black are Haswell's: Romabama reconstruction is shown in brown. Note r2c4 : is it , , or . I have seen all three. Dr. Min Tin Mon told me in personal communication it is - without a {ha.hto:}. The grapheme is quite common in Bur-Myan as in the word for 'bazaar'. That Mon-Myan has 3 variation shows it is not one of their phonemes.

UKT 130404: It appears that Rev. Haswell was not aware that the consonants of language-scripts based on Asoka script are presented in a matrix showing the POA (Point of Articulation). He has lumped all the consonants into a single table.

Pix on right: Haswell's table. Pix below: my presentation from the present-day Mon-Myan speakers of Martaban dialect. There were 3 distinct Mon dialects, and that of Pegu was different from that of  Martaban. The third dialect was that of Y.

You will notice that what Haswell has given, particularly for row #2 aksharas, is quite different from the present day pronunciation. Did Haswell heard them wrong, or was it a case of differences in dialects?

There is considerable difference between Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan in the pronunciations of c3 & c4. Listen carefully the pronunciations of ending sound (which is the intrinsic vowel) of
the consonantal akshara (which is a syllable)
- bk-cndl-Mon-row3<)) (link chk 151020)
 - bk-cndl-Mon-row4<)) (link chk 151020)
Western phoneticians not used to the Abugida-Akshara, but only to
Alphabet-Letter system never pay attention to the intrinsic vowel which has
to be killed with a Virama {a.t} to become equal to the Alphabet.
Notice r1c3 sounds end like r1c1, but voiced, and r1c4 sounds without deep H.

Now, leaving aside the retroflex row #3, compare the c1-c2 to c3-c4 of the {wag}-consonants. You will see that consonants of c1-c2 have the intrinsic vowel //. c3-c4 are a repeat with intrinsic vowel /ɛ/. We will represent c1-c2 intrinsic vowel as {a.}, and that of c3-c4 as {}. What I have said for Bur-Myan c4 with deep-H does not hold.

Moreover, we cannot say c3-c4 to be voiced, they sound just as voiceless as c1-c2 but with different intrinsic vowel. The nasals, c5, seem to be similar to c3-c4.  I need to confirm my observation.

UKT 140417: If you are a reader-writer of Bur-Myan, read pdf 024/495 of
Mon-Bur-NaingMaungToe-MonLibrary.pdf pdf page 024

Haswell (Peguan) and MNT (Martaban) differ on:
#1. Ppronunciation of r1c3. Haswell categorically stated that /g/ sound is absent, whereas NMT gives a /g/ sound. I could also hear a /g/ sound in
- bk-cndl-Mon-row1<)) (link chk 151021) 
#2. Haswell gives r2c1 as /s/.

NMT gives r2c1 as tenuis form of /ʧ/ : {kya.} which is not known in Eng-Lat.
I also heard - bk-cndl-Mon-row2<)) as {kya.} 
This difference can be explained as Haswell giving the Peguan and NMT as Martaban dialects.

NMT and I differ on presentation of intrinsic vowel /ɛ/. He gives it as {.} (1/2 blk) whereas I give it as {} without {}. To avoid mixing up of the Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan I have to settle for {} (2 blk) . We must note that these two are front mid-vowels and are very close. English speakers do not even notice the difference.

The 3 pitch-registers of Mon-Myan:
{.} (1/2 blk) ; -?- {} (1 blk) ; {} (2 blk)
- Note that emphatic {:} is unknown in Mon-Myan.

Therefore, I give the intrinsic vowel as {} .

Listen to SND in:
Part 02: lessons10-15 -  spk-all02.htm  (link chk 151021) 
Part 03: lessons16-28 -  spk-all03.htm (link chk 151021)
paying attention to Mon-Myan aksharas of c3 changing the intrinsic vowels in disyllables and trisyllables.

Don't forget the two kinds of consonants: {wag} & {a.wag}, and
two kinds of vowels: {a.wuN} & {a.a.wuN} .

Contents of this page

(p004cont) / pdf 029
[Vowel {a.} as consonant]
{a.} is also reckoned as a consonant and is used as a final. [UKT : {a.}-killed]

UKT140525, 151018: If I were to take {a.} as a vowel, {a.}-killed is an oxy-moron to me. However, I have to represent it in Romabama as {}.

The characters [of row#3, the retroflex] {Ta.}, {HTa.}, & {a.} having the same sound as [characters of row#4, the dental-alveolar] {ta.}, {hta.}, & {Da.} are now never used ; but are retained in the alphabet abugida, or their places filled by the repetition of {ta.}, {hta.}, & {Da.}, to fill out the division of letters into fives in repeating in sing song , as they are accustomed to when learning. [UKT ]. See my note on Retroflex - the sing-song of Dental.


is also very seldom used, the more easily written [dental-alveolar approximant] {la.} being used in its stead. [UKT ]

Contents of this page

[The palatal plosive-stops]
{sa.}, {hsa.}, {za.}, {zya.}* often have very nearly the sound of soft <ch> .

UKT 140525: Haswell stated above that {sa.} often have very nearly the sound of soft <ch>. But in his table of consonants on p003 he has given its power as s . Are we to understand that it is mostly <s> but "often" has ch . Whatever the case may be we can expect the Peguan dialect to be closer to Bur-Myan where this character as the initial has the sound {sa.}, but {ca.} as coda. Because of this in Romabama for Bur-Myan we write onset: {sa.}, and coda: {c} .

UKT 130404: The above row#2 - the palatals - are the most controversial being compounded by their sibilic (somewhat "hissing") nature. The pronunciations of Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan are quite different -- Mon-Myan is more akin to Skt-Dev. For example, please note that {hsa.} is pronounced in Mon-Myan as <ch> as in English <church>  /ʧɜːʧ/ -- the pronunciation represented by an affricate /ʧ/. In this way it is similar to the Hindi (& Sanskrit) pronunciation, and to the Bur-Myan pronunciation of {hkya.}. 

   *The akshara of r2c4 is a problem in not only in Mon-Myan, but also in Skt-Dev. Bur-Myan seems to have used a medial of {sa.} with {ya.ping.}, whereas Mon-Myan uses a {za.} with a {ya.ping.}. Skt-Dev uses a conjunct of {za.} & {a.}. The sound of this character which gives rise to <ism> is present in the end of English words such as <communism>.

[Fricative-Thibilant of Bur-Myan /θ/ and Fricative-Sibilant /s/ of Mon-Myan]
{a.} always has the smooth sound of <s>.

UKT 130404: Mon-Myan is sibilant in pronouncing this akshara, whereas Bur-Myan is thibilant. Based on this, I suggest that Mon-Myan is related to Sanskrit. Yet the Mon-Myan pronunciation is not as hissing as Skt-Dev.

There is no <g> in the language save {ngra.} which as an initial has the sound <gn> (the <g> being fully sounded.) As a final it has the sound of <ng>. [UKT ]

UKT 130404, 140516: In the above Haswell is talking about /ŋ/. There is no English syllable with /ŋ/ as the onset. Yet /ŋ/ is present as the coda, e.g. <king> /kɪŋ/. When the English speakers had to transcribe many place-names and person-names in Myanmar that starts with this sound, they usually use <gn> for this sound, e.g., Gnak'aw'san 'stream where birds sing' {nghak-au-sm:}. 

Gnak'aw'san was the village in which was situated the well-noted Catholic Orphanage for Boys - De La Salle Twante - was situated. I remember well , the Catholic Brothers headed by Brother John. These brave missionaries stayed behind in Burma throughout the Japanese Occupation. Brother John and his companions were frequent dinner guests, before WWII, in our home (I was just a child) in Kungyangon. See: http://sauvita.wordpress.com/ 140516

There is no <z> or <th>.

UKT 140526: Eng-Lat <z> is Bur-Myan r2c3 {za.}- {z}. It is palatal-voiced counterpart of r2c1 the palatal-plosive tenuis {sa.}- {c}. The killed {z} is not present in native Bur-Myan, but is present in loan-words. Differentiate the palatal-plosive {sa.}- {c} from the usual English <s> which is dental-fricative and is hissing. Eng-Lat <s> is written in Romabama as {sa.}/{Sa.}- {S}. It is dental-fricative, and is not present in native Bur-Myan, but is present in loan-words.

I am sure that Mon-Myan r2c3 is the equivalent of Bur-Myan r2c3. However the two differ in pronunciation. Mon-Myan r2c3 is pronounced as <s> according to Haswell, but <gy> / {gya.}/ according to NMT. Now comes the confusion from IPA. Normally we hear it as English <j>. But in IPA <j> has the sound of {ya.}.

The English <th> which appears in words such as <thin> is present in Bur-Myan. But according to Haswell  it is not present in Mon-Myan confirmed by NMT.

Whenever you come across the digraph <th>, remember the IAST transliteration which is not the Eng-Lat <th>. IAST <th> is {hta.} in Bur-Myan.

(p004cont) / pdf 029
The consonants, as it respects their influence on the vowels, are divided into two classes.

In the first:        {ka.}  {hka.}  ...
   [Romabama terminology: c1-c2 class]
In the second: {ga.}   {Ga.}  {ngra.} ...
   [Romabama terminology: c3-c4 class]
See the table from Spk-all (in colour) presented above and on the right.

Remember what Haswell calls the ka-class is c1-c2. His ga-class is c3-c4. I need to change them to c1-c2 with intrinsic vowel //, and c3-c4 with intrinsic vowel /ɛ/. Since the mid-vowels are not very well defined, /ɛ/ can undergo change in different environment of surrounding consonants in the syllable.

Notice how close they are even within two languages, e.g. Danish and English. In Mon-Myan, they are within the same language, and so expect them to be almost the same in continuous speech.

NMT on pdf 026 calls these two classes as:
{a.n-pau.} 'light sounding' and {a.n-l:} 'heavy sounding'.

(p005) / pdf 030
The sound of the vowels when combined with letters of the first class, (which will be called the {ka.} class ) is the same as when standing by themselves, as represented in the table. [UKT ]

With the second, or {ga.} class the sound of the vowel is always modified, though the modifications cannot always be represented by English letters. Sometimes the sound is quite changed, as will be seen by comparing the following table with the one on the second page.

UKT 140526: The above 2 paras may be summarized as:
In the syllable CV , if V were /ɛ/ it underwent a drastic change together with a change in onset-consonant. If it were // there is no change to the onset. In the following table, you will see the change of V as well as C in CV -- zero-coda syllables.


NMT is either not informative enough, or I might have misunderstood him. Spk-all explains them, but unfortunately the explanation is in Mon-Myan which I don't understand at present.

(p005cont) / pdf 030
It will be noticed that several of the combinations with {ga.} are represented with the same English characters as with {ka.}, but in all these cases the sound is softer with {ga.} than with {ka.}. [UKT ]

It will also be noticed that the inherent vowel sound of {ga.} is represented with the same as {g} yet the sound is lighter, and where {ga.} forms the first syllable of a word the vowel sound is scarcely heard at all, as {ga.ta.} pronounced k'ta and not ka'ta .

UKT 130422, 140526: What Haswell has been saying in the above paragraph shows that the  vowel of {ga.} is schwa /ə/ - the mid-central vowel in the Vowel quadrilateral.

 This mid-central vowel is also present in Bur-Myan disyllabic words such as {a.ni} /ə.ni/ 'colour red'.

What Haswell is saying amounts to formation of polysyllabic words which are presented as horizontal conjuncts in Skt-Dev.

ग ga + त ta --> ग ् त  --> ग्त  : represented in Skt-Myan as {g~ta.}

But my comparison to Skt-Dev may not hold at all, because in Skt-Dev, a viram {a.t} must follow {ga.} which we do not find in {ga.ta.}. Because of this reason I have represented it as {g~ta.}. Spk-all gives examples of syllables in spk-all02.htm : lesson 12. Click on lesson12<)) to hear the sounds. The sounds are given row by row. As an example concentrate on {ba.w.g.ta.} and you will hear {ga.} being changed to /{ka.}/.

Note {ba.w.g.ta.} is given according to Mon-Myan phonology. and not in accordance with Bur-Myan. Note to TIL editor: bookmarks are given according to Bur-Myan phonology. 

(p005cont) / pdf 030
Where one of the {ga.}- class consonants without a vowel symbol forms a word by itself, the sound is followed by a slight er  sound, but not so distinct as when combined with the second vowel symbol {ga}.

UKT 130422: The allophones of Bur-Myan: creak, {ga.}, modal {ga}, emphatic {ga:}
and the Mon:Myan are comparable. Note the differing use of {wic~sa.}.

Bur-Myan:        {gaa.}, {ga.}, {ga}, {ga:}
Mon-Myan:      {ga:.},  {ga.}, {ga}
vow-duration:  1/2           1           2           2+emphasis
in eye-blinks

Note the three-dots in {ga:.}. I have borrowed the three-dot representation from Tamil-sign visarga  ஃ  {wic~sa.}.

The sound of {ga:.} is really that of pronounced quick, as though the sound were cut short in the enunciation. It is also followed by a slight er  sound. (p005end)

Contents of this page

Coda consonants Final Consonants

UKT130422, 151021: Haswell's caption "final consonant" can now be legitimately written as the coda (coda consonant). The basic unit of Abugida-Akshara system is the sonic-Akshara, which is a syllable by itself. A word in this system has the canonical form CV, where C is the onset-consonant, V the nuclear or peak vowel of the syllable (word), and is the coda consonant. C and are not the same. is an Akshara whose inherent vowel has been killed by a Virama {a.t}. The Virama or Viram is the hallmark of the Abugida-Akshara system of writing. The word "Akshara" means an unchanging graphical representation of the sound of the basic unit. It implies a one-to-one correspondence between sound and script.

Always differentiate between the intrinsic vowel of the Akshara C & its killed form from the nuclear vowel of the CV. Western phoneticians are only used to Alphabet-Letter whose basic unit is the mute-Letter. In their system  there is no distinction between onset-consonant and coda-consonant. Theirs is the CVC type.

The Western phoneticians and philologists not knowing the Abugida-Akshara system make a mess of our languages including Mon speech written in the Myanmar script of Myanmarpr. I always refer to Mon language as Mon-Myan.

Coda Final consonants are designated by a mark placed over them as, {k} [UKT ]

UKT: 130422. When Haswell was writing, the Westerners were totally ignorant of the abugida or akshara form of writing in which viram {a.t} is essential. At the present, we know:

{ka.} (syllable) + viram {a.t} --> {k} (mute)
   - notice the "flag" which shows that the inherent vowel has been killed.

It is the same in Skt-Dev:

क ka + virama -->  क् k
  - the "flag" in Devanagari is under the basic akshara: ् .

The Skt-Dev word Virama 'the vowel killer' is known in Bur-Myan as {a.t}. {ka.} is a syllable and can be pronounced, whereas {k} without an intrinsic vowel is not pronounceable: it is the same as a letter of the alphabet.

UKT 130427: The killed consonants used as coda are identical to the letters of the Latin alphabet to which the Westerners are accustomed to. Abugida languages were unknown to Haswell and other philologists of his time. Because they could not relate our scripts to Latin or Greek alphabet, they tend to look down on ours. They thought theirs, the Alphabet, was superior. Though we can excuse the Westerners of Haswell's period for their ignorance, because their Science of Phonetics was still in its infancy, there is NO excuse whatsoever for the modern Myanmar educators for failing to give import to Myanmar akshara which is based on sound principles of Phonetics and Phonemics.

The only letters used as codas finals are [UKT: I have to give both forms of each to be meaningful. Haswell gives only the basic form.]:

r1, velar:    {ka.}, {k}   ;  {ng~ra.}, {ng} 
r4, dental:  {ta.},  {t}   ;  {na.}, {n}
r5: labial:    {pa.},  {p}  ;  {ma.},  {m}
r6: approx: {ya.}, {}  ; {wa.}, {w} 
r7: approx: {ha.}, {h}  / {a.}, {?}

{ng~ra.} when used as a coda final is always written {ng} [UKT ]

and {ha.} is frequently written {h} . [UKT ]

{ya.} is seldom used as a coda final , its place being supplied by the vowel-sign symbol {:}, as {k:}  instead of {k}.

UKT: In Bur-Myan there are three allophones:

creak {k.}  modal {k},  emphatic {k:}

The consonants have their own legitimate sounds what ever their position, with very few exceptions. There is never more than one simple consonant in a syllable, unless one is a coda final .

Contents of this page

Medials and Conjuncts Double Consonants

UKT 130422, 140529: Of all the confusing terms which we met in our beginning days of entry into English grammar, "double consonants" is top. I maintain that there is no such thing in general and what we are seeing is the coda of the first syllable, and onset of the second syllable at the syllable boundary in a disyllabic word. An example is the English word <success> /sək'ses/ (DJPD16-515). The English letter has the sound /k/ as the coda, and /s/ as the onset. A parallel is Bur-Myan {ic~sa} 'truth'. See my presentations on Antimoon forum:
Pronouncing the double C -- Joe Tun (aka) U Kyaw Tun , Sun Mar 09, 2008 4:26 pm GMT
http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t9999.htm 130422

We have a class of compound-consonants known as {paaHT-hsing} in Bur-Myan. MLC MED2006-272 . I was led astray by this term which implies "Double-consonants"- a favorite idea of the European Indologists. These words are not confined to Pali but are present in all akshara languages derived from Asoka script. The Asoka script now erroneously called Brahmi is now classed as an  Abugida (based on syllables) to be differentiated from Alphabet (based on letters). They are conjuncts commonly met in Bur-Myan. They are of two types, the vertical and the horizontal.

vertical conjunct
{ka.} + viram {a.t} + {ka.} --> {k~ka.} (mute)
{ta.} + {k~ka.} --> {tak~ka.} - part of word for "university"

horizontal conjunct
{a.} + viram {a.t} + {a.} --> {~a} (mute)
{pi.} + {~a.} + vow-ā --> {pai~a} 'viss - the unit of weight approx. 1.6 kg.

When I first wrote this note on 130422, my knowledge of Skt-Dev was almost nil. Now, I can quote for examples in Skt-Dev. Look into my work on A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary, by A. A. Macdonell -- 1893. MC-indx.htm (link chk 140529)

There are 11 vertical medial-conjuncts in Mon-Myan. See the Basic Method of Teaching Mon Speech and Script by Naing Maung Toe (referred to as NMT) (in Bur-Myan), Yangon, 2007.
- downloaded: Mon-Bur-NMT.pdf  Chapter 4 - p047: pdf 51/259 . 

Listen to:
Part 04: lessons29-32 - spk-all04.htm : medials & conjuncts
Part 05: lessons33-38 - spk-all05.htm : Medial-conjunct formers.
  See also NMT - Mon-Bur-NMT.pdf  p.047 : pdf 51/259 

Conjuncts Double Consonants, that is, where one is written under the other, as, {~a:.} are either pronounced as if written separately, as {-a:.} , or the upper letter is the same as a coda final , as, {baan~Da.}, pronounced as if written {baan-Da} .

Contents of this page

Medial-conjunct formers Compound Consonants

UKT 130423, 140528:

Medials are conjuncts which have a single smooth sound related to the components. It is a monosyllable. In modern-day Bur-Myan there are 4 approximants which act as "medial formers". They are {ya.}, {ra.}, {wa.}, and {ha.}. They give rise to {ya.ping.}-sound, {ra.ric}-sound, {wa.hsw:}-sound, and {ha.hto:}-sound, respectively. If they cannot be pronounced as a single smooth sound, they should be called conjuncts. Conjuncts are disyllabic.

For the non-native Burmese, the most hard to pronounce medial is the {ya.ping.}. Both Mon-Myan and Bur-Myan speakers pronounce it as monosyllabic. All foreigners, including the Hindi speakers pronounce it as disyllabic.

Monosyllabic {kya.}   IPA /kya/
Disyllabic       {k~ya.} IPA /kə.ya/ : notice the extraneous schwa /ə/ .

Myanmar currency, Kyat  {kyp}, must be pronounced as monosyllabic, but foreigners pronounce it as disyllabic {k~yp} or {k~yp} with an extraneous schwa /ə/.

My Burmese name has this sound {kya.}, but because none outside Myanmarpr could pronounce it as monosyllabic, I had to change it officially in Canada, from Kyaw {kyau} to Joe. And so as a naturalized Canadian citizen, my name appears as Joe Kyaw Tun on my passport. Since the usual practice is to drop the middle name, I am Joe Tun , but I don't hide my Burmese ancestry, and always sign my name in Bur-Myan as Kyaw Tun .

Medials in Bur-Myan are exactly like the basic consonants, except that they could not be killed. And therefore there are no medials in the coda of Bur-Myan syllables. Killing a medial with a viram usually breaks it down. Thus, an imported Skt-Dev akshara श sha cannot be killed because it is a medial in Bur-Myan phonology. In Bur-Myan this phone is represented as {hya.} or {rha.}. Since there is no way out, Romabama has to invent a new glyph from the existing ones:

{Sa.} + {ha.hto:} -->  {sha.}

Note: Though {sa.} & {Sa.} use the same glyph, the former is the palatal plosive-stop, and the latter the dental hissing-approximant. However, the two are represented differently in the BEPS coda: {c} & {S}.

Medial-conjuncts Compound Consonants are formed by one of the following basic aksharas letters , or its symbol being placed under other letters, viz. {ngra.}, {da.}, {na.}, {ma.}, {ya.}, {ra.}, {wa.}, {ha.}, {b'a.} according to the following table. [UKT: Haswell has missed {ma.}, which I have corrected. In the following also {a.} has been missed. It is present in his vocabulary.]


(p007 begin) / pdf 032
Medials Compound Consonants are pronounced as one syllable, or as nearly so as the case will admit. The symbol {~ya.} combined with {ya.} [forming]  {yya.} does not alter the consonant power, but gives the vowel combined with it the same sound that it has with the c1c2 {ka.} class. The symbol {ya.ping.} some times has the same effect when combined with {la.} [UKT: poor photocopy: can be another.] , without the aspirate being sounded. {wha.} is pronounced fwa .



{kau} for {kauk} , etc.

Notice the vow-sign above consonant. It is not circle within circle. It looks like Bur-Myan {lon:ting-hsn-hkp}.
See NMT pdf 015/259 which I have reproduced below.

( p007cont)
There are many colloquial contractions which are not used in writing as, {hi.} (often pronounced hi ) instead of {~ngi.} for 'house' [UKT: glyph not sure.], {a:.} for {~a:.} entirely.

Contents of this page

Modification of vowel sounds by coda

Listen to:
Part 06: lessons39-43 - spk-all06.htm : coda consonants {k} & {ng}
Part 07: lessons44-47 - spk-all07.htm : coda consonants {t} & {n}
Part 08: lessons48-51 - spk-all08.htm : coda consonants {p} & {m}
Part 09: lessons52-55 - spk-all09.htm : coda consonants {y} & {o} 
Part 10: lessons56-60 - spk-all10.htm : coda consonants {ha.} & {a.}

Don't forget the two kinds of consonants: {wag} & {a.wag}, and
two kinds of vowels: {a.wuN} & {a.a.wuN} .

UKT: Haswell has looked into the checking of various vowels by common killed-consonants:

r1, velar:    {ka.}, {k}   / {ng~ra.}, {ng} 
r4, dental:  {ta.},  {t}    / {na.}, {n}
r5: labial:    {pa.},  {p}    /  {ma.},  
r6: approx: {ya.}, {}  / {wa.}, {w} 
r7: approx: {ha.}, {h}  / {a.}, {?}

The vowels can be divided into two main groups: {a.wN} 'similar pairs', and {a.a.wn} 'dissimilar pairs'. In a syllable of CV type [C = onset, V = nuclear vowel or peak, = coda], the nuclear vowel may be free [C = 0], or bounded (to the preceding consonantal phoneme} [C = 1, 2, 3].

Free vowels: {a.}, {I.}, {u.}, {},
Bound vowels with various consonants such as:
   {ka.}, {ki.}, {ku.}, {k}
   {ta.}, {ti.}, {tu.}, {t}
   {pa.}, {pi.}, {pu.}, {p}

There are other possibilities.


Contents of this page

Checking the {a.wuN} vowels

UKT 130429: The consonantal akshara, such as {ka.} has the inherent vowel {a.} which has been likened short English a , which in IPA parlance is // . The same inherent vowel is present in all scripts based on Asoka script with the possible exception of Mon-Myan. Because of this inherent vowel, all akshara-consonants are syllables. It is not so in Alphabetic scripts where the letter k has no sound.

Thus, when an akshara-consonant is followed by a killed-consonant, it amounts to checking the inherent vowel {a.} with the killed-consonant.

Don't forget the two kinds of consonants: {wag} & {a.wag}, and
two kinds of vowels: {a.wuN} & {a.a.wuN} .

Checking the vowel {a.} -- UKT caption :

UKT 130429: When an akshara-consonant is followed by a killed-consonant, it amounts to checking the inherent vowel {a.} with the killed-consonant.

When a consonant of the {ka.} class without a vowel symbol, is followed by a coda final consonant, the combination has the vowel sound of au  in <pauper>, as {pt} paut  {pt} paup , except with {k} and {ng} , where it has the sound of broad a , as {pak} pk , {ping} png . [UKT ]

UKT 151021: Note that Haswell has also observed a change in the nuclear vowel of CV type due to the nature of the coda consonant. It is also what I have observed in Bur-Myan. The examples he has chosen are:

Checking of the short (1 blk) vowel by coda: {pak}  {ping}  {pt}  {pt}
Checking of the long (2 blk) vowel by coda: {paak}  {paat}  {paam}


Checking the vowel {a} -- UKT caption

UKT 130427: The vowel {a} can be represented by two types of vowel signs: the {weik-hkya.} ,  and the {mauk-hkya.} . See MLC MED2006-399 for definitions.

The vowel-sign symbol {~a} combined with a consonant, followed by a coda final , has the sound of broad a , as {paam}  pm , {paat} pt , except with {k} and {ng} where it has the sound of long , as {paak} pk , and {paing} ping . [UKT ]

Checking the vowel {i.} -- UKT caption

UKT: The vowel {i.} can be represented by the vowel-letter {I.}.

The vowel-sign symbol  {~i} has the sound of ee as {paip} peep , {paim} peem , except with {k} and {ng} where the sound is midway between long and short i , as {paik} pk  {paing} png . [UKT ]

Checking the vowel {u.} -- UKT caption

UKT: The vowel {u.} can be represented by the vowel-letter {U.}.

The vow-sign symbol {~u.} always has the sound of oo  as {roak} rook , {roam} room . [UKT ].

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Checking the {a.a.wuN} vowels

UKT 130429: When an akshara-consonant is followed by a killed-consonant, it amounts to checking the inherent vowel {a.} with the killed-consonant.

In the paras following, Haswell has looked into the first of the {a.a.wun} {} first.

Checking the vowel {} -- UKT caption

UKT 130428: The vowel {} /e/ can be represented by the vowel-letter {}. Remember the vowel {} /e/ is just below the vowel {i.} /i/ in the vowel quadrilateral. Just below it is the vowel {:}, which is not found in English. In the following sentence, our reverend Haswell was coping with a vowel that is not well realized in English. Obviously he did not know the vowel quadrilateral of Daniel Jones. My full sympathy goes to our reverend. My comment: he should have cut his long sentence into shorter sentences.

The vowel-sign symbol [of the vowel {}] has the sound [{p008}] of long a , as {kt} kt , {km} kt  [UKT ] ,

except with {k} and {ng} where it sometimes has the sound of long a , and sometimes of long i as {pk} , is either pk , or pk [UKT ];

and {png}, is either png or png , as the connection may require. [UKT ]

UKT: Words and syllables of the above type are quite rare in Bur-Myan in spite of the very common examples such as:

{hkt} - n. period, times, era -- MED2006-064
{t~ta} - n. box -- MED2006-517

Checking the vowel {au:} -- UKT caption

UKT: The vowel {au:} is very controversial because it is a back vowel. Moreover it is the most open, and the sound depends on how much the speaker can open his mouth. It is a fact that the Westerners, especially the English do not open their mouths wide enough, and most of our open vowels became close when they speak resulting in mis-spellings in their transcriptions.

Though in the vowel quadrilateral of Daniel Jones, the back-vowels are represented well separated, in actual practice as seen in the vowel space they are not. This gives rise to a loss of a vowel in BEPS languages. The lost vowel is what is known as "open o" /ɔ/. This "lost" vowel could be {o} which is not listed among the basic vowels.

The vowel {au:} can be a spread-vowel /ɑ/, rounded-vowel /ɒ/, or in-between and is at the lower-end of the back vowels. The two most contrastive pair of vowels in a human language is the {i.}- {au:} pair which I generally take to be /i/-/ɑ/. The second-most contrastive pair is the {u.}- {a.}, generally spoken as the {u}- {a} pair. In comparing languages, I usually listen to these two contrastive pairs. Listening to mid-vowels is the most misleading.  

The vowel-sign symbol {au:} when followed* [see below] by a coda final , always has the sound of long o , as {kauk}  kk . {kaup} kp . [UKT ]

UKT 130428: *The vowel {au:} and its vowel-sign {au:} are split, and the coda-consonant goes into the middle. Thus, the word followed  is totally misleading. Split-vowels are well-known in Bur-Myan and in Bangla-Bengali, but not in Hindi-Devanagari. Such peculiarities are not taken care of by some computer fonts -- Arial Unicode included -- which was quite a hurdle in my study of BEPS. Whenever, such a vowel is encountered I have to switch fonts to others like Lucida San Unicode.

Secondly, it is interesting to note that Haswell has given {kaup} using the {mauk-hkya.} instead of the usual usage with the {weik-hkya.} as {kaup} . Was he confused by the split vowels?


Checking the vowel {o} -- UKT caption

UKT 130428: {o} is what I call the lost vowel because it is not listed among the basic vowel. It is also a split vowel, but its split is vertical instead of horizontal. It is represented by the vowel-sign {o}. It is associated with 2 or 3 pitch-registers in two series with individual meanings in Bur-Myan:

series #1:
   creak {o.} 'a call-sound for a dog', modal {o} 'old', emphatic {o:} 'pot'
series #2 with {ka.}:
   creak {ko.} 'a first-person pronoun', modal {ko} 'physical body'

UKT 130429: As transliteration of syllables where the vowel {o} is checked by a killed-consonant, Romabama will be following the {ko} format -- simply add the coda consonant to the vowel. Thus: {ko}, {kop}, ...
   However, when the syllable is also Bur-Myan, we will follow the regular Romabama transcription, such as {keing}.
   Romabama has used this {ei}-{ai} rule from its early days to show the "openness" of the vowel sound in the name of the town of Insein: {ing:sain}. A second reason why {ei}-{ai} rule was adopted was to get away from the English usage of "silent e", commonly known as "magic e" which is absent in other European languages. The "silent e" is also not used in IPA. A third reason was to avoid the IPA usage of "small cap i". The basis for this rule was the sameness in pronunciations of <maid> & <made> which IPA spell as /me
   The common English transcription in use in Myanmarpr gives a "close" vowel sound because the British-Burma colonial administrators spoke with their lips not opened enough -- a trait hated by their Burmese subjects as an air of distain for the militarily defeated nation. I speak from personal experience which we of our generation knew well.
   I was born in 1930s during the days when Burma was militarily taken over by the British colonialists. We took pride when during the Second World War, when our newly independent nation declared war on the British and Americans. People of our generation never forget THE Independence granted by the Japanese after they had driven the British colonialists with their Governor General Sir Dorman Smith out of Burma. Then our forces under General Aung San fought the colonist-forces on the north-western borders.
   The British colonialists had added insult to injury when they made our proud country in the late 19th century a mere province of India. A Burmese athlete, U Zaw Weik, of that period was made to put on an Indian turban on his head as a member of the Indian Olympic team. The Burmese subjects took that incident to be the highest form of insult when the head of a person was involved -- an insult to the whole nation.

In the second series, {ya.} is a semi-consonant behaving as a consonant, and not as a semivowel with vowel qualities as realized in English. Failing to differentiate semi-consonant from semivowel was also a barrier in my early days of studying BEPS.


The vowel-sign symbol {o} has the sound of broad a , as {kop} kp  pom , except with {k} and {ng} when it has the sound of ai , as {keik} kaik , {keing} kaing .

Checking the vowel {a.} with {a.a.wun} -- UKT caption


A consonant followed by a final S, without a vowel symbol, has the sound of aw in law, as oS paw; with a Vowel symbol, the 5 is not sounded, as cooS ka; soooS ko; ka. oo final is a real aspirate, and requires the syllable to be pronounced in a short explosive manner, as ooc kauh, o^oS kooh. The vowel sound given by oa final when it follows a simple consonant, without a vowel symbol, differs from o final in that it is a little heavier, and is formed more in the throat ; but when it follows a consonant with a vowel symbol, it some times entirely changes the vowel sound, as coooS is 'to while GOODsS is pronounced tdh. Consonants of the o class followed by a final, without a vowel symbol, have a sound of au approaching the sound of long o, except with oS and 8, when the sound is long a, and the single syllable is pronounced as if two syllables, a3 ocS, pronounced pa-uk, oS pa-ug. Consonants of this class com bined with vowel symbols, followed by finals, modify the sound of the vowels. The modification must be learned by the ear, as it is simply softer than in the oo class, except the symbol which, with the oo class, gives the sound of broad a, as SjiuS kah but with the o class, nearly the sound of u in pull, as {^jS kuh. Perhaps, also, the symbol 0 should be noticed, which, with the oo class, gives the sound of o in nor, with the o class, nearly, the sound of long 5.


As noticed in a previous section, the character when not followed by a final, does not represent a vowel, but is used as a substitute for iS or oS , except in one or two instances it is used instead of 08 . In some cases the same combination stands for two words, as no may be either coS kaum, a bullet, or CO5 kaw, the neck ; but generally, the same combination stands for but one word- ecoo always stands for GCCOsS (toh nearly,), good always stands for scooS torn (to cook ;) stands for (ojj (affix of masculine gender. )

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The mark ii called Qcpiit is the only mark of punctuation in the language. To mark the end of a paragraph, the 1 is reduplicated with a short space left vacant, thus, ii 1

UKT: Parts of Speech, beginning with Nouns in the next file.

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UKT notes

Retroflex - the sing-song of Dental

UKT 140525, 151020: 

There was a misprint in the original pdf029. It was written :


It was a misprint and should have been:
"The characters , , & having the same sound as , , & are now never used ... ;"

Haswell left out r3c3 {a.}, r3c5 {Na.}, r4c3 {da.} . Why? The only reason seems to be his ignorance of the retroflex sounds so common in our languages, but which we usually do not articulate in continuous speech. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retroflex_consonant 140525

UKT 130404: How pathetic is the way my respected Reverend had described something that he did not understand as 'sing song '. It shows his narrow outlook, born out of the Judeo-Christian European culture that he had been born into.

It is obvious that he did not understand the science of Phonetics on which our languages have been based. That these languages have been studied scientifically for thousand of years, when English speaking Northern tribes, the Angles & Saxons, were no better than maritime pirates, sometime described as Vandals.

Because of their superiority in arms and because they had conquered the East, they have thought highly of themselves and had sought out to stamp our superior cultures (in terms of the science of phonetics), and replace them with their inferior ones. Imagine the way in which he had heard -- the "repeating sing song " manner -- of learners memorising the POA (Points of Articulation) of the consonants.

Yet, I must acknowledge the fact that without his help, in terms of his #1. Grammatical notes and Vocabulary of the Peguan Language, to which are added a few pages of phrases, etc. ", I would not have been able to learn Mon-Myan which is already on its way to extinction. My deepest kowtow to him.

Go back Retroflex-note-b

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