Update: 2016-05-01 02:11 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

See Grammatical notes and Vocabulary of the Peguan Language - J. M. Haswell, Rangoon, 1874, downloaded: - Grammatical notes and vocabulary ... pdf (link chk 140523)
For vowels, go to pdf 026/191

The Peguan language (p001/pdf026)
The Alphabet : Abugida-Akshara 
  Vowels (pdf027)

UKT notes :
I will have to re-analyse of Romabama vowels in the light of Mon-Myan vowels.


Contents of this page


UKT 151015: Remember, my treatment of the Peguan dialect of Mon-Myan language is based on Haswell pdf which is uploaded together with this file:
- MonMyan-Haswell-gramm-notes-vocab<> (link chk 151013)

(p001) / pdf026
The Peguan Language is written from left to right without separation of syllables or words. There are but few words of more than two syllables, and they are mostly of Pali origin.

UKT 140525: There are three salient observations made by Haswell:
#1. No separation of script into syllables and words
#2. Words of Pali origin.
#3. Basic consonants are of 2 kinds. - [UKT: you'll find this observation elsewhere]

Firstly: I need to treat his observations carefully, for my study of phonology of the language which is different from that of Bur-Myan. Romabama is based on the Bur-Myan phonology and it does not work well for Mon-Myan. Moreover the vowels sound differently in different languages. For example, Danish-Latin vowels are quite different from English-Latin though both use the same basic Latin script. Thus it is futile to expect that Mon-Burmese sounds would be similar to Burmese-Myan even though they both use the same basic Myanmar-akshara - the common akshara shared by many languages in Myanmarpr.

Observe how humans speak. Their speech is never continuous: they speak with short pauses and long pauses, in phrases and in sentences. They use plenty of body language. They sometimes repeat a phrase either the same or with some alteration. Their speech is never "grammatical" as you would find in script. I hold that "bookish grammar always stand in the learning process of any spoken language" whether it be Burmese, English, or Mon as a second language. See English Grammar in Plain Language - EGPE-indx.htm (link chk 151015)

My phonetic-phonemic treatment is based on the ideas of the well-known language scientist Noam Chomsky (1928- ) sometimes described as "father of modern linguistics":
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky 140525

Our Innate linguistic knowledge is our inborn knowledge of how to communicate with another human being. We do this by uttering sound in a sentence pattern -- not just calls as the animals do. Thus our study is about sentences and the rule governing the make up of sentences. First let me define:

UKT 151015 : No matter how well Haswell has described the "sound" or "pronunciation" of akshara and words, it is still no match to actual listening. In these pages, I intend to augment Hasweil's descriptions with sound files downloaded from Learn Mon Yourself : 61 lessons on line. However, for the present edition, we are unable to cut the files to individual syllables and words.

The modern instrumental study of formants has given us more insight into how humans "sing" their vowels. Comparison of vowels of Danish and English speakers show the variation within individual Danish speakers, and also within English speakers. You can see the variation within 2 groups. And therefore, what Haswell has heard, what Naing Maung Toe has heard, and what I have heard must be taken only as our impressions. And I am sure you will hear the same vowel in another way, and how you describe them is nothing but your own impression.

Even when a well-trained phonetician or philologist listens to a foreign language, his mother tongue (L1) plays havoc with his listening. In this instance, the writer, Reverend J. M. Haswell, was an American, and his vowels would be those of Indo-European language group. He would be unfamiliar with the vowels of Austro-Asiatic languages to which Mon-Myan belongs, and to the vowels of Tibeto-Burman languages to which Bur-Myan belongs. In the instrumental study shown above, a Danish speaker and an English speaker pronounces his front vowels differently. Moreover even among the English speakers (or Danish speakers) variations do exist. Lastly we must remember that, our Reverend was an American Baptist minister by profession, and that his language study was just a part of his mission. We commend him highly for his work.

My conclusion to Haswell's first observation is: We need to present not only Mon-Myan, but Bur-Myan, Pal-Myan and Skt-Myan in well defined syllables and words with white-spaces. This I will try to do to the best of my ability. My friend U Tun Tint of MLC agrees that we need to use white spaces as in English when we write Bur-Myan. I will add one more need: our fonts must show the basic aksharas and vow-signs (diacritics) clearly with spaces. Not having such a font system, I am reduced to writing from a lakkwak as stone-engravers do. An added advantage is my ability to show how to pronounce the vertical and horizontal conjuncts with different colours.

Secondly #2. Words of Pali origin.
Whereas, Bur-Myan is related to Pali , Mon-Myan is related to Sanskrit. Pali was invented in Sri Lanka for the benefit of Theravada Buddhists based on Magadhi of Asokan-missionaries and the native speech of Lanka influenced by Sanskrit of Hindu-religionists. Pal-Myan is a Tib-Bur language using the same vowel sounds as Bur-Myan. Mon-Myan, an Austro-Asiatic language, on the other hand is related to southern Indic and Lanka, and is related to Sanskrit.

Thirdly: On Haswell's observation #3. See in the table of consonants on (p003cont) / pdf 028 .|
Basic consonants are of at least 2 kinds, e.g. {ka.} ending in /-a/, and {Ga.} ending in /-ā-er/ .

Here what he meant is that the basic consonantal aksharas are of different kinds differing from each other by the intrinsic vowels.

The first is those with intrinsic vowel // - the English short vowel -  which we present as {a.} <a>. The second kind have a different intrinsic vowel which I heard as /ɛ/ which TIL presents as {}. However according to Maung Naing Toe and other Mon-Myan speakers, it is {.}, e.g. ipa  {hk.}
See NMT - p018/pdf022 in - MonMyan-NMgToe-Mon-Bur<> (link chk 151015)
As a compromise -- or as we say among Chemical Engineers a "happy medium" with which no one is happy but still find it useful -- the same as Bur-Myan {} but without the {} and write as {}.

When we learn Mon-Myan as a second language, L2, we need to learn how to differentiate these two basic aksharas. When I say, we need to learn, I mean that it must be learnt as our second nature. The only solution is to listen repeatedly to individual aksharas and those in continuous speech including song.
- bk-cndl-Mon-aks-song<))


Contents of this page

THE ALPHABET : Abugida-Akshara

UKT 151016: Rev. Haswell wrote his book over a hundred years before the Westerners realized that our languages are based on sonic-syllables and not on the mute-letters of the alphabet. The correct caption is therefore Abugida-Akshara. Not the Alphabet-Letter. "Abugida" itself is a coined word. Since we already have the word Akshara - meaning 'unchanging' because the relation between the speech and script must remain the same, I am using the hyphenated word Abugida-Akshara. 

UKT 140417: If you are a reader-writer of Bur-Myan, read MNT- p018/pdf022
 - MonMyan-NMgToe-Mon-Bur<> (link chk 151015)
It is obvious that NMT does not differentiate the "name of the consonantal akshara" from "its pronunciation". In Bur-Myan the name of the glyph is "Ka'gyi" {ka.kri:} - having the sound {ka.} /ka'/ (shown with IPA suprasegmenta /a'/).

That the Peguan Alphabet akshara is from the same source as the Burman, does not admit of doubt, nearly all the simple characters being the same, and many of them having the same sound. [UKT ]

Contents of this page


Listen to Mon-vowels
- {a.wuN} 'well matched pair' (light background) - bk-cdnl-Mon-v1<))
- {a.a.wuN} 'mismatched pair' (dark background) - bk-cdnl-Mon-v2<))
or, MonSPK-SpkAll Lessons01-09 - MonSpk-les02-61txt<)) 

Read Fundamentals of Mon Speech & Script (in Bur-Myan), by Naing Maung Toe, 2007, p009/pdf013
- MonMyan-NMgToe-Mon-Bur<> (link chk 151013)

It consists of Twelve vowels ( sw {eiw}) and thirty four consonants, ( pyaun {byn} ). [UKT ]

UKT151016: Haswell lists only 34 consonants - not 7x5 = 35. He does not consider {a.} to be a consonant. However, because Mon writings include {a.} under a viram as {a.}-killed, we will have to include it as a "consonant".

The vowels are mostly in pairs. [UKT ]

UKT 151016: NMT's description of vowels should be carefully checked with Haswell's. I am finding that the two does not agree well. NMT-010 gives 12 vowels:

UKT 141016: Though English uses short (1 blk) & long (2 blk) vowels, Haswell was writing many years before Phonetics as a science was fully developed in the West. Moreover he was writing about a phonetic language based on syllables. Mon-Myan is an abugida-akshara. Haswell's native language is American English which is non-phonetic. His English speech does not agree with script. His is alphabetic-letter. He realized that the Mon-Myan vowels come in pairs. He has given a spelling variation for the word for consonant. He has given {byn} instead of {byi}. Since these two have different "vowel-sounds", Haswell might have been giving the Peguan dialect.  We must also realize that English, Pali and Sanskrit do not have the Bur-Myan palatal approximant {by:}.

The first a light [vowel length: 1 blk], the second a heavy sound [vowel length: 2 blk] of what might properly be called the same vowels. When combined with consonants they are written in symbolic form [vowel-sign]: and in their full form [vowel-letter] only when they make syllables by themselves. Their power [pronunciation] is modified or entirely changed by the different classes of consonants


with which they are combined, and also, by final consonants [coda]. The vowels with their symbols and power, and the manner they are combined with consonants, will be seen in the following table. (p002)/pdf027.

You will note that the glyph for {} is taken from Haswell. You will also note that the hood of {AW} in Bur-Myan has been shortened so that it would not be mistaken for the highly rhotic Skt-Dev vowel.

The Myanmar fonts are not well designed. They join the basic glyphs and the vowel sign which is permissible in handwritten form. But for computer fonts they should be separate. The following are sound clips of Mon-Myan vowels from lesson01 of Learn Mon Yourself online:
- {a.wuN}-vowels {a.} <)) / {a} <)) / {i.} <)) / {i} <)) / {u.} <)) / {u} <))
- {a.a.wuN}-vowels⒎{} <)) / ⒏{} <)) / ⒐{aw.} <)) / ⒑{au}? <)) / ⒒{n} <)) / ⒓{a:.} <))
Notice how the vowel singer is deliberately trying to differentiate the vowels
⒐{aw.} <)) / ⒑{au} <)) .

UKT 151016: Haswell, like other non-native Myanmar (Burmese & Mon) misses the nasal element in {n}. Note: Mon-Myan for this sound is transcribed as <OM> ending with an <m>, whereas for Bur-Myan it sounds with an <n>. In this respect Mon-Myan and Skt-Dev sounds are the same.

It is also interesting to note that the vertically split vowel {o} /o/ which is common in Bur-Myan is not included in the 12 basic vowels of Mon-Myan. We find it also missing in Pal-Myan and Skt-Dev. Why? The reason is simple: in the F2 of the vowel space, the back vowels are squeezed together, and some language groups tend to miss it altogether. 

Romabama as a transcription between Burmese and English works well. Now when I try to apply it to Mon-Myan, I am finding that it is almost entirely unsatisfactory. A re-analysis of BEPS vowels is now called for, for which as a first step I am relying on the F1-F2 study of 8 American-English vowels from Building a statistical model of the vowel-space for phoneticians, by Matthew Aylett given above. My present analysis is pointing the relationship of front- and back-vowels in the quadrilateral as:
  {i} <)) vs. {u} <)) 
  {i.} <)) vs. {u.} <))
  ⒎{} <)) vs. ⒏{aw} <)) 
  {a.} <)) vs. ⒑{au} <))
a mixing up of short & long vowels. This arrangement must also satisfy Bur-Myan {ing-pon:kri:}-arrangement.

It is helpful to know how NMT compares and contrasts the Bur-Myan & Mon-Myan vowels. See NMT p010/pdf014.

UKT 140325: Don't be misled by description of vowel sounds by various authors. Whether it be Haswell, Stevens, or NaingMaungToe describing the vowel sounds, what they are giving is just their opinion. My study of the formants has convince me that your ear is your best teacher. Listen to how a Mon-Myan speaker is pronouncing them in Learn Mon Yourself  -- MonSPK-SpkAll Lessons01-09
- MonSpk-les02-61txt<)) (link chk 151016)

It will be noticed that there are three characters that have the sound of broad <a>, namely, {a.} precisely like <a> in Father ; {a} the same, only heavier, {a:.} the same, only pronounced quick, as though the sound were cut short in the midst of its enunciation, like the English ah pronounced <quick>.

UKT 130402: The English vowel <a> in <father> is a back-vowel, whereas, the Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan {a.} is a front-vowel. I was led astray by the statements like " {a.} precisely like <a> in Father " until I came across Daniel Jones Pronouncing Dict ed16: <father> /fɑːəʳ/ (US) /fɑːɚ/  DPPD16-199. Haswell has noted the three "tones" of Mon-Myan. Bur-Myan also has 3 tones: creak, modal, emphatic, to which a fourth may be added.

Mon-Myan: {a:.}    {a.}  {a}
Bur-Myan:   {aa.}  {a.}  {a}   {a:}
---------------- half-        one-     two-       two-emphatic eye-blinks

Listening online repeatedly has indicated that Mon-Myan {a:.} is almost the same as Bur-Myan {aa.}. Skt-Dev speakers miss this vowel in combination with {gnaa.} in reciting the Gayatri Mantra. They pronounce it as {na:.} नः in:

धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त्॥ ।
  dhyo y naḥ pracodyāt
- bk-cndl-Gayatri<))

The character () [Haswell might have meant the basic consonantal {o} // and not vowel-sign] ( ).] does not properly represent a vowel except when followed by a final consonant, in other cases, its place may be supplied by a final {ma.} or {a.}, and {tn} may be equivalent either to {tm} or {ta} In the former case, it would be pronounced taum , and in the latter tau ; when followed by a final, it has the sound of o in or.

UKT 151016: I am curious about the character ( ) given by Haswell above.  It looks like a "circle-above" which would make it a {lon:kri:ting} 'circle-above', . Or, it could be {::tn} 'dot above'.

Yet, reading through the Diphthongs that followed, the character in question can be {lon:kri:ting}, . We need to see what NMT has to say about this. On pdf 015, he writes


Contents of this page


UKT 130403, 141016: Diphthongs are 'glides': you start with one vowel and ends in another as in the English <boy> /bɔɪ/, <oil> /ɔɪl/ & <cow> /kaʊ/.

English is full of diphthongs, but Bur-Myan uses monophthong. However when the Western philologists came face to face with Bur-Myan medials and conjuncts, they mistook them for diphthongs. I must emphasized that Bur-Myan uses monophthongs - not diphthongs.

The three common English diphthongal-words with which we, including myself as a Burmese Government State-scholar in 1957-59, got into pronunciation trouble in the US are: boy {Bweing}, oil {weing}, cow {kaung:}. We pronounce them as monophthong. None of us can pronounce the English diphthongs.

Note: Romabama, like IPA, does not use what is commonly known as "silent-e", and thus it does not transcribe {weing} as English <wine> though the two words are pronounced the same by us. These three infamous words are pronounced by us as monophthongs -- NOT diphthongs.

I can definitely say, because of our way of pronouncing the above infamous three, that there are no such glides in Bur-Myan. However for Mon-Myan I am not sure. What the Westerners think are diphthongs are monophthongs. It is a case of their L1 interfering with their "hearing". We all are "prisoners" of our own cultures. See the Principle of linguistic relativity , commonly known as Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity 140525

There are combinations of vowels which have been called diphthongs. I contend they are not glides, but monophthongs. Since they are derived from two (or three), I might as well call them "medial vowels" in conformity with 'medial consonants' which are unique in Bur-Myan: {ya.ping.}, {ra.ric}, {wa.hsw:} & {ha.hto:}. Note: I have left out the {la.hsw:} because it is only in use in the Tavoyan dialect.

See my note on diphthong and glide.

{a.} and {} are combined, and have the sound of <ai> in <aisle> /aɪl/,
It is not a diphthong, it is a hiatus .

 hiatus - 2. Linguistics  A slight pause that occurs when two immediately adjacent vowels in consecutive syllables are pronounced, as in reality and naive - AHTD

 UKT 130403, 151016:
In the following, Romabama transcripts in {...} do not give the correct Mon-Myan pronunciation. I have used them only as a guide to bookmarks of the gif files. The Mon-Myan sounds are from SpkAll lesson 52 of 61 the title of which is shown on the right.

Note how Romabama is denoting Mon-Myan {} . It is the same as Bur-Myan {} without a {}. Mon-Myan, unlike Bur-Myan does not have emphatics. In Bur-Myan {:} is emphatic and {:} is shown in Romabama. Remember the three registers of Mon-Myan: {a:.} (1/2 blk), {a.} (1 blk), {a} (2 blk)

{a} + {} --> {aa} as in <aisle> /aɪl/ 
{a} + {-} --> {ka}

as {ka} pronounced kai ,

UKT 130403, 151016: Is Mon-Myan pronounced the same as Bur-Myan {k}, and what about ?
The answer to my own questions lies in Speak All Lesson group#09. The Video and SND files are usually stored in TIL SD-Library from which I have copied, and stored in SND folder of has-vow.htm )
- les052-61<>
- les052-61<))

- les052-61<))

  and are combined and have the sound of oo-ey , as {tu} (?) pronounced too-ey , except {tu} the (p003)/pdf028  sign of the past tense, which is pronounced t-ey . [UKT ]

{-} , {-i.}, {-u.} are combined and have the sound of oo-ey . as pronounced poo-ey . [UKT ]

{o}   + {-} --> {-o}
{po}   + {-} --> poo-ey {po}

{-} and {-} are combined, as {te} pronounced ta-ow . [UKT ]

{} + {-} --> {-e} : 
{t} + {-} --> ta-ow  {te}

{-}, / {-a}, {-} are combined, as pronounced p almost precisely like {p}. 


The above diphthongs are never followed by a final consonant coda [what about approximant as coda]; but the diphthong formed by the union of {U.} and {I.} is always followed by a final, as, {keing}  pronounced kaing .

The following are the only vowels used with final consonants coda, 

/ {a}   {I.}   {U.}   {AU:}   {n}

UKT151016: From this, we will have to differentiate the coda consonants which may be the {wag}-stop, the {wag}-nasal, or the {a-wag}-approximant which have the different ability to check the nuclear vowel. With the {wag}-stop, the checking is complete, whereas with the {a.wag}-approximant, the checking is incomplete. Checking with the {wag}-nasal comes in between.

UKT: Haswell continues with the table of Consonants which you will see in the next file.

Contents of this page

UKT notes

Diphthongs and glides

- UKT 151018

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diphthong 130304

A diphthong (Greek: δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally "two sounds" or "two tones"), also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel. For most dialects of English, the sentence "no highway cowboys" contains five distinct diphthongs.

Diphthongs contrast with monophthongs, where the tongue doesn't move and only one vowel sound is heard in a syllable. Where two adjacent vowel sounds occur in different syllables -- for example, in the English word re-elect -- the result is described as hiatus, not as a diphthong.

hiatus  n. pl. hiatuses or hiatus 2. Linguistics A slight pause that occurs when two immediately adjacent vowels in consecutive syllables are pronounced, as in reality  and naive. -- AHTD

Diphthongs often form when separate vowels are run together in rapid speech during a conversation. However, there are also unitary diphthongs, as in the English examples above, which are heard by listeners as single-vowel sounds (phonemes). [2]

UKT: More in the article.

Go back diphthong-note-b

Contents of this page

End of TIL file