Update: 2020-09-10 06:19 PM -0400


Romabama rules

- a transcription-transliteration system
for BEPS (Burmese-English-Pali-Sanskrit) languages:
name changed from Introduction to Romabama on 2020July01


by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), Daw Khin Wutyi, B.Sc., and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL). Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

index.htm | Top

Contents of this page 

Rule 01 of Romabama - Romabama-rule1.htm (link chk 200807)    
 Letters of Latin alphabet used. Use of ASCII characters only.
 Consonants (Plosives-stops, Affricates, Fricatives, Nasals, Approximants).

Rule 02 of Romabama - Romabama-rule2.htm (link chk 200807)
 Vowels (Close or High, Mid, Open or Low)
 Differentiation of capital and small letters .
 Note on Nwari aka Nepal-Bhasa, and Nepali

Rule 03 of Romabama - Romabama-rule3.htm (link chk 200807) 
BEPS consonants and vowels
Graphemes with regular English consonants
Note on Latin digraphs for consonants used in world's languages
   UKT 200819: Rule 3 for both consonants and vowels together has become very large,
   because of which the vowels have been moved to Rule 4

Rule 04 of Romabama - Romabama-rule4.htm (link chk 200807) 
Silent e and <e> as part of digraph <ei>
Graphemes with regular English-Latin (Alphabetic) vowels, a, e, i, o, u
Note on Latin digraphs for vowels used in world's languages

Rule 05 of Romabama - Romabamar-rule5.htm (link chk 200821)
Cardinal vowels of BEPS: A, , I, O, U
Eight Pali-Myan Vowel-Letters of Akshara-Syllable system
Why the need of only one set of vowels for Eng-Lat, and two for Bur-Myan
Killed consonants (plosive-stops, approximants, nasals)

Rules of Romabama - Romabama-rules6.htm (link chk 200807)
Review and Updating of Book-Candle definitions
Special Conjuncts: kin'si vowel-sign and repha

Rules of Romabama - Romabama-rules7-9.htm (link chk 200807)
 Killed consonants. Special Conjuncts: {kn~si:} vowel-sign and repha
 Fossilized killed consonants. Non-alphabetic characters: ~ (tilde) for {a.t} and {paaHT-hsing.}
Extension of Myanmar akshara row 2 to accommodate medials and affricates, Super-Thwhto, Super-K, Super-S, etc.

UKT notes
Comparison of Myanmar, Devanagari, and IPA
Doggie's Tale - copy-paste
Four vowel representation in Myanmar akshara
Lakkwak for sculpting individual glyphs and respective bookmarks
Open-vowel lengthening :
  hkn gu gnau: / dau: pon wa. / mauk hkya. r:pa kra.//


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UKT notes

Comparison of Myanmar, Devanagari, and IPA systems

- UKT 151221, 200726

Transcription, involving sound - not transliteration - between Bur-Myan and English is difficult because we are dealing with two living languages belonging to different language groups, the Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman), and IE (Indo-European). The main difficulty is due to English written in Latin script, erroneously known as the English Alphabet. English is notoriously non-phonetic. Pronounce an English word as it is written and you are trouble. In Bur-Myan we are taught to follow the spelling to get at the correct pronunciation:

What is written is permanent and is correct. What is spoken is just sound waves and is transitory: it can be in error.

{r:tau.a.mhn}/ {hpt-tau.a.n}

There is no recourse but to use IPA (English in extended Latin) in BEPS work: in Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma} 'the backbone of Myanmar script. However, I ran into another difficulty when I tried to incorporate Mon-Myan, because its phonology is quite different from that of Bur-Myan. I have to keep myself reminded that Romabama transcriptions are good only for Bur-Myan not for Mon-Myan and other Myanmar languages like Karen-Myan, Shan-Myan, etc. However, you get a fair pronunciation of Pali words included in Mon-Myan sentences. It also holds true for Pali in other Myanmar languages.

The consonants

The Tenuis and Lisping consonants

UKT 200816

English has no corresponding sound to tenuis consonants {ka.}, {ta.}, {pa.}. They pronounce these as voiceless {hka.}, {hta.}, {hpa.}. However when {Sa.}/ {S} is present immediately to {ka.}, {ta.}, {pa.}, they can pronounce them as {S~ka.}, {S~ta.}, {S~pa.}. They are known as Lisping consonants. They are a special kind of conjunct, and with training you can pronounce them as monosyllabic. However, most Bur-Mya speakers pronounce them as disyllabic by inserting a schwa. Since they are very common in Eng~Lat, you can drop the tilde ~ and write: {Ska.}, {Sta.}, {Spa.} .

Skt-Dev has a special conjunct which may be mistaken for {Ska.}

Lisping consonant : {Ska.} : ष ् क --> ष्क
Pseudo Kha: {kSa.} : क ् ष --> क्ष 
Do not mistaken the above for {kiS} क ष ् --> कष् 


The vowels

Vowels are very tricky, transcriptions of the lower back vowels may have to be changed as I become more familiar with Mon-Myan and Skt-Dev pronunciations. The table presented here is tentative.

Go back Myan-Dev-IPA-note

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Doggie's Tale

Mnemonic The Doggie Tale: 
Little doggie cringe in fear -- ŋ (velar),
  Seeing Ella's flapping ears -- ɲ (palatal)
  And, the Shepard's hanging rear -- ɳ (retroflex).
Doggie so sad he can't get it out
  What's that Kasha क्ष when there's a Kha ख ?
  And when there's Jana ज्ञ what I am to do with Jha झ?

Note to digitizer: you can copy and paste the following:
Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū
Ḍ ḍ Ḥ ḥ Ḷ ḷ Ḹ ḹ Ṁ ṁ Ṃ ṃ Ṅ ṅ Ṇ ṇ Ṛ ṛ Ṝ ṝ Ś ś Ṣ ṣ Ṭ ṭ ɕ ʂ
Instead of Skt-Dev ः {wic~sa.} use "colon" :
Mon-Myan: {a.}, {.}
Root sign √
Skt-Deva : श ś [ɕ] /ʃ/; ष ṣ [ʂ] /s/; स s [s] /θ/;
Undertie in Dev transcription: ‿ U203F
IPA symbols: ɑ ɒ ə ɛ ɪ ɯ ʌ ʊ ʃ ʧ ʤ θ ŋ ɲ ɳ ɴ ɔ ɹ ʔ /kʰ/ /ː/
  <church> /ʧɜːʧ/ (DJPD16-097)
  <success> /sək'ses/ (DJPD16-515)
  <thin> /θɪn/ (DJPD16-535), <thorn> /θɔːn/ (DJPD16-535)
  circumflex-acute :
  ấ U+1EA5 , ế U+1EBF
  upsilon-vrachy  ῠ 
  small-u-breve  ῠ u

UKT 130422: Romabama has to use unusual key strokes with the help of Alt key on the computer keyboard, some of which are from:
Alt520 series: ◘ ○ ◙ ♂ ♀ ♪ ♫ ☼ ► ◄
Alt620 series: l m n o p q r s t u
Alt720 series: ╨ ╤ ╥ ╙ ╘ ╒ ╓ ╫ ╪ .
An example for bracket: ◄...► (special series: Alt528 ► Alt529◄ )

Go back Dog-tale-note-b

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Four vowel representation in Myanmar Akshara

- UKT 090618, ..., 151221, 200725 

Our task of comparing English to Burmese is not easy because Eng-Lat and Skt-Dev have only two "tones" for vowels the short and the long, whereas Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan taken together four. Since, words like 'short' and 'long' are not quantitative, I am using vowel-duration measured by eye-blinks: 

{a:.} अः (1/2 blk), {a.} अ (1 blk), {a} आ (2 blk), {aa:} (emphatic 2 blk)

- the three-dot representation {:.} has been borrowed from Tamil visarga ஃ (U+0B83)
  {a:.} is found in Mon-Myan.

What I have been calling the Two-three tone problem, is solved when Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan are taken together.

Go back four-vow-Myan-ak-note-b

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Lakkwak for sculpting individual glyphs and respective bookmarks

Remember that bookmarks must be in ASCII, and follow Bur-Myan phonology even when used for Mon-Myan, and Pali-Myan.

UKT 190625, ... 200514, 200704: Unavailability of Myanmar font suitable to my use has led me to the system of Akshara Banks (AK-BNK) based on syllables. The first step improvement I had to take was when some AK-BNKs became too large - well over 1000. They were split into branches, such as AK-BNK5k, AK-BNK5t, AK-BNK5p, and AK-BNK5 (for the remainder). It is also found that Pal-Myan negation words can be deleted from the AK-BNKs by using {a.} (in red) deposited in AK-BNK3.  I'm looking into the development of a Romabama font based on the idea of CJK fonts. See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CJK_Unified_Ideographs 200518

Though I've enough of Aksharas in the AK-BNKs for email for sometime, for the development of a font, I feel that I have to refine them more for my present work. The total of number of Aksharas in the AK-BNKs by the 2020June update is 5281, and by 2020July update is 6035.

The basis of the AK-BNKs is on my observation that many Bur-Myan words represented in script (not necessarily in speech) is disyllabic. I have once written on this subject from Canada, in 2012, in a paper titled "Romabama on Typewriter".


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Open-vowel lengthening

UKT: 200726:

Open-vowel lengthening is found in all BEPS languages, including Eng-Latin if we take Old English into consideration.

See: Lengthening and Shortening of Vowels, https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/cb45/files/lengthening-shortening2_0_0.pdf 200726. Downloaded paper in TIL HD-PDF and SD-PDF libraries:
- HarvardEducat-LengthenShortenVowels<> / bkp<> (link chk 200726)
"Two sound changes with opposite effects took place during the Middle English period: lengthening and shortening. As the names imply, one made certain short vowels from Old English long and the other made certain long vowels".

Now that I've referred to Old English, I must say something of Old English Phonology. We can also probably make comparisons to Peguan dialect of Mon-Myan, since both Old English and the Peguan dialect are no longer spoken.

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_English_phonology 200726

" Old English phonology is necessarily somewhat speculative since Old English is preserved only as a written language. Nevertheless, there is a very large corpus of the language, and the orthography apparently indicates phonological alternations quite faithfully, so it is not difficult to draw certain conclusions about the nature of Old English phonology. // Old English had a distinction between short and long (doubled) consonants, at least between vowels (as seen in sunne "sun" and sunu "son", stellan "to put" and stelan "to steal"), and a distinction between short vowels and long vowels in stressed syllables."

The above Wikipedia article brings up an interesting idea: the double consonants . I've argued that there is no double consonants in Bur-Myan. In Bur-Myan we have conjuncts - both vertical conjuncts and horizontal conjuncts, such as {ic~sa} "faithfulness" and {pai~a} "viss - unit of weight". I'm wondering, whether the "double consonants" of Old English are conjuncts as in Bur-Myan.

In the above, we have seen that Old English did have both short vowels and long vowels , which can be represented as a and ā .  My problem here is whether all languages of BEPS has long vowels or not. They all have long vowels, but how to represent the long vowels in Bur-Myan. Remember, Myanmar script is based on perfectly rounded circles, and we have two symbols for lengthening sign which is collectively called Recha {r:hkya.}. They are known as {mauk-hkya.} "tall or standing sign" and {weik~hkya.} "short or sitting sign".

MLC has used an arbitrary nonsensical rule how to use Recha {r:hkya.} which can be remembered by a mnemonic, which I've christianed: Khin'gu'gnau - and remembering the sound the turkey makes I will be referring to as Miss Turkey-toothsome.
  hkn gu gnau: / dau: pon wa. / mauk hkya. r:pa kra.//
which on translation gives: for {hka.}, {ga.}, {gna.}, {da.}, {pa.}, and {wa.} use the tall-standing sign.


The {r:hkya.} problem or more accurately {weik-hkya.} / {mauk-hkya.} problem

-- by UKT 110604, ... , 151223, 170611, 200802

One of the earliest problem in formulating Romabama is the way to represent the long vowel {aa}/{a} graphically. Bur-Myan uses two vowel-signs to do this: the {weik-hkya.} "short-crouching sign" and the {mauk-hkya.} "tall-standing sign". Which sign to use is a problem, particularly for those learning to write Bur-Myan. To explain this we will have to go back at least 80 years from today. [Personal note: As an old man I always enjoy going back to my childhood memories.]

When we were young (I am now 86), we usually preferred the {mauk-hkya.} probably because it looked more grand. But there was a sort of a rule which depends on the way the akshara is written in Bur-Myan. Our akshara is based on circles, and the very first grade a child is put into is known as the {wa.lon:tn:} because the child is being trained to write a perfect circle. Incidentally the circle looks similar to English 'zero', and the {wa.lon:tn:} is jokingly called the Zero-th grade.

 UKT 150412, 200802: Though English numeral 'zero' and Bur-Myan {wa.} looks similar, yet they became quite distinct if you use different way to write the two. The draw for 'zero' is counterclockwise "left-handed", whereas the {wa.} is clockwise "right-handed". The English 'zero' is an oval, 0, whereas Bur-Myan is a perfect circle.

I've been asked how I would described "left-handedness" and "right-handedness". I always imagine walking around a post or pillar. I extend my left hand to hold on to the post and start walking. I am walking left-hand. On the other-hand, extending my right hand to hold the post and start walking. Now I'm walking right-handed. Now, if you are fed-up with "hands" - just say "anti-clockwise" and "clockwise".

I have used the words Left-hand and Right-hand to give food for thought to those Bur-Myan who are inclined to Esoteric Buddhism with its Left-hand Path (Black Magic), and Right-hand Path (White Magic). Don't think in terms of Evil & Righteousness. Both are Good if you use them for a good purpose.

And so, the child is put into the Zero-th Grade. We had to practice writing One-circle glyph {wa.}. Then we were promoted to writing and repeating aloud the consonantal aksharas with names {ka.kri:} "ka-major", {hka.hkw} "curled-up doggie", {ga.ng} "little-ga", ... - all single-circles.

Then we "graduated" into the double-circles including {ta.}, {hta.}. In the meanwhile we were taught to make small changes such as putting a dent, a break, and a small-inclusive circle. It usually takes about a year to train a child of 6 or 8.

For the names of the aksharas see Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis 1899 , by A. W. Lonsdale, Rangoon: British Burma Press, 1899 xii, 461, in two parts. and proceed to Part 1 Orthoepy and orthography , Chapter 3, p010-015. The child is then said to be in the "Ka'gyi-Hka'gw" Grade.
Follow the navigation: BurMyan-indx.htm > BG1899-indx.htm > BG1899-1-indx.htm > ch03-2.htm (link chk 200802)

If I remember correctly, the rule for choosing which {r:hkya.} to use was simple: if the akshara is based on one-circle use {mauk-hkya.} - if based on more than one-circle use {weik-hkya.}. According to U Tun Tint of MLC, I must have remembered wrong. It is regrettable that many in Myanmarpr, including the MLC, is fond of remembering things by heart. I believe that it is a disservice to a scientific language like Bur-Myan. Rules for Bur-Myan should be based on reason - not on arbitrary rules even if they have been used historically, they should be replaced. Whatever the case may be, now that I'm faced with the problem of reconciling the 2 phonetic scripts, Myanmar and Devanagari which will eventually include Asokan-Brahmi, I'm using my simple rule: one-circle - {mauk-hkya.}, and two-circle {weik-hkya.} for BEPS. However, when I write a letter to be recognized by MLC, I'm using the Khin'gu'gnau - Miss Turkey-toothsome.

It is generally believed that the way the akshara was based on circles was due to the fact that the original letters were written on palm leaves. This conjecture was (based on my memory) put forward by Taw Sein Kho (7 December 1864 29 May 1930) Burma's first recorded archaeologist.
See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taw_Sein_Ko 110605

However, I must refute U Taw Sein Kho on two points.

Refutation #1. Scribes had been writing "horizontal" strokes on palm-leaves since ancient times.
See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm-leaf_manuscript 150408 .
The palm used in Myanmarpr is commonly known as the talipot palm {p pn}, with scientific name Corypha umbraculifera - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corypha_umbraculifera 150408
Astrologers-cum-traditional-astronomers in Myanmarpr are still writing on talipot palm leaves.

Refutation #2. The circularly rounded script is common both to Myanmar  script and Georgian script. For instance, the Georgian alphabetic letter Tan თ (U+10D7), and Myanmar akshara Ta'wumpu (named {ta.wum:pu}) has not only the same shape but sound /t/ as well. There are others. Such a similarity is more than accidental.

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End of TIL file