Update: 2007-02-10 11:03 PM -0500

TIL

Romabama

Burmese Written Language in Roman Script

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U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), Deep River, Ontario, Canada. Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR .

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Medials or pronounceable conjuncts
01. {ya.ping.} -- conjunct with {ya.}
02. {ra.ris} -- conjunct with {ra.}
03. {wa.hsw:} -- conjunct with {wa.}
04. {ha.hto:} -- conjunct with {ha.}
05. {ya.ping. wa.hsw:} -- double-conjunct with {ya.} and {wa.}
06. {ra.ris wa.hsw:} -- double-conjunct with {ra.} and {ha.}
07. {ya.ping. ha.hto:} -- double-conjunct with {ya.} and {ha.}
08 {ra.ris ha.hto:} -- double-conjunct with {ra.} and {ha.}
09. {wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- double conjunct with {wa.} and {ha.}
10. {ya.pin. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- triple conjunct with {ya.}, {wa.} and {ha.}
11. {ra.ris wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- triple conjunct with {ra.}, {wa.} and {ha.}
UKT notes

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Medials or pronounceable conjuncts

UKT: From the previous pages, I have come to conclude that a "conjunct", or "consonant-conjunct", or "consonant-cluster", or "orthographic-consonant-cluster" are the same. I will now define conjunct by:

From: The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0, Unicode Consortium, http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode4.0.0/
An "orthographic consonant cluster" is defined as a sequence of characters that represents one or more dead consonants (denoted Cd ) followed by a normal, live consonant letter (denoted Cl )."

  The formation of the conjunct {kka.} is exactly the same as that of Devanagari क्क (U0915+U094D+U0915). Burmese-Myanmar {kka.} is mute.

A "conjunct", such as {kka.}, need not be pronounceable . But a medial, though a conjunct, must be pronounceable.

The effective unit of Burmese-Myanmar language is the orthographic syllable, consisting of a consonant and vowel (CV) core and, optionally, one or more preceding consonants, with a canonical structure of (((C)C)C)V. The orthographic syllable need not correspond exactly with a phonological syllable, especially when a consonant cluster is involved.

Four consonants from the non-definable group, {a.wag}-group, are the only medial-formers: {ya.}, {ra.}, {wa.}, and {ha.}. (You will note that the medial-formers, except {ha.} are described as  approximants.) They undergo a change in shape or position (a lower level) in the process of medial-formation. A medial has only one sound (single phoneme) like any other consonants.  In Romabama, the medial-former occupies the second place (after the base consonant) in the syllable. (In the transliteration of the c2 consonants, <h> is placed before the base consonant, e.g. {hka.}. Here <h> is not a medial-former, but only a character in the digraph.) A second and then a third medial-former can be further added to form more medials.

You will notice that not all consonants can form medials with a particular medial-former.

Test for medial. A medial must act as a single consonant, i.e. monosyllabic. Thus {ta.ya.} is not a medial. It can be considered to be a horizontal ligate or conjunct. See  {ya.ping.}.

Conjuncts listed in Myanmar Thudda, volumes 1 to 5 (in Burmese), Text-book Committee, Basic Education, Ministry of Education, Myanmar, ca. 1986:

01. {ya.ping.}

The primary function of this conjunction seems to be to nasalise the consonants. [This point needs to be checked with my peers.] Since nasalisation and lip-rounding cannot be articulated at the same time, all the {ya.ping.}-conjuncts, except the extreme guttural or velar consonants, will drop out in {ya.ping. wa.hsw:}.

02. {ra.ris}

     -- All over Myanmar, except in the west coast (Rakhine or Arakan) , {ra.ris} sounds are not used even though everyone is capable of pronouncing them. If you were to pronounce according to the spelling, you would be understood perfectly because you are speaking with the Arakanese accent. If you are writing Burmese-Myanmar, it is important that you use the correct spelling -- otherwise the meaning will be changed, and nobody would understand you.

03. {wa.hsw:}
 
One of the effects of {wa.hsw:} is lip-rounding.

04. {ha.hto:}

   {ngha.} /'ŋʰa/  {nyha.} /ɲʰa/ {nha.}  {mha.} {lha.}
  -- the pronunciation of the above syllables is highly nasalised, and few non-native Burmese would be impossible to pronounce. Ask a Myanmar-born Burmese-speaker to pronounce them, and try to differentiate the sounds:
   {nga.} /ŋa/  and {ngha.} /ŋʰa/
   {a.} /ɲa/ and {ha.} /ɲʰa/
   -- {lha.} /ɫa/ - an alveolar lateral fricative not present in English.
   See the table of English consonants and the IPA chart.

05. {ya.ping. wa.hsw:}

06. {ra.ris wa.hsw:}

07. {ya.ping. ha.hto:}

08. {ra.ris ha.hto:}

09. {wa.hsw: ha.hto:}

10. {ya.ping. wa.hsw: ha.hto:}

11. {ra.ris wa.hsw: ha.hto:}

The naming the multiple conjuncts (naming sequence) is in accordance with Myanmar Saloanpaung Thutpoan Kyam (MOrtho). Thus, {ya.pin. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} is correct, and {ya.pin. ha.hto: wa.hsw:} is not. Nevertheless, in Romabama the naming sequence is based on the English pronunciation, and not on MOrtho.

In the tables on conjunct consonants, you see how a conjunct may be formed. However, not all possible conjuncts are listed in Thutpoan Kyam, but you will come across them in actual syllables and words combined with vowels elsewhere.

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{ya.ping.} -- conjunts formed with {ya.}

 

Lets see which of the base aksharas would form {ya.ping.} medials :
(This section is an observation based on orthography of Burmese-Myanmar words listed in the Myanmar Orthography of MLC.)

 

 

Observation based on MOrtho, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

The primary function of this conjunction seems to be to nasalise (with friction) the consonants. [This point needs to be checked with my peers.] Since nasalisation and lip-rounding cannot be articulated at the same time, all the {ya.ping.}-conjuncts, except the extreme guttural or velar consonants, will drop out in {ya.ping. wa.hsw:}.

{ka. ya.ping.} -- index p.(02) listed starting on main p.014 with   {kya.}

{hka. ya.ping.} -- index p.(05) listed starting on main p.040 with {hkya.} /ʧa/ -- pronounced <ch> as in <church>

{ga. ya.ping.} -- index p.(07) listed starting on main p.056 with {gya}. Derived from {gya.} as in <j> in <jug>

{ta. ya.ping.} -- index p.(13) listed starting on main p.112 with {taya}. Derived from {tyaya.}
  -- pronounced with /ə/ not /a/.

{na. ya.ping.} -- index p.(16) listed starting on main p.135 with {nayu}. Derived from {naya.}
  -- pronounced with /ə/. Unless pronounced with /ə/ or /a/.
  If pronounced as {nya.}, it becomes indistinguishable from {a.}

{pa. ya.ping.} -- index p.(18) listed starting on main p.153 {pya.}

{hpa. ya.ping.} -- index p.(21) listed starting on main p.171 {hpya.}

{bya. ya.ping.} -- index p.(23) listed starting on main p.181 {bya.}

{ma. ya.ping.} -- index p.(25) listed starting on main p.198 {mya:}
{la. ya.ping.} -- index p.(31) listed starting on main p.245  {laya}
{tha. ya.ping.} -- is not realised, instead of which {tha. ya.ping. ha.hto:} index p.(35) is listed starting on main p.269 {thhya:}

{ma. ra.ris  wa.hsw:} -- is not realised, instead of which {ma. ra.ris  wa.hsw: ha.hto:} index p.(27) is listed starting on main p.215 with  {mhrwa}.

{ya.ping.} will nasalise the base character, and therefore only those base aksharas which do not have any element of nasality can form {ya.ping.} monosyllabic medials. Some other base characters can form {ya.ping.}. But they give only disyllabic conjuncts, e.g. {laya.}.

Though {ya.} and {ra.} are similar in forming conjuncts, they are represented differently and should be pronounced differently. However, except in the west coast of Myanmar, and in reciting Pali-Myanmar texts, {ya.ping.} (formed with {ya.}) and {ra.ris} (formed with {ra.}) are pronounced the same.

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{ra.ris} -- conjuncts formed with {ra.}

Though {ya.} and {ra.} sound so similar, they are quite different.

Observation based on MOrtho p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

The primary function of {ra.ris} is to make a consonant rhotic. See Rhotic consonants in TIL mini-libray. You should note that Burmese-Myanmar {pa. ba.}, {ta. da.}, and {ka. ga.} correspond to British-English plosives /p b/ (bilabial), /t d/ (alveolar) and /k g/ (velar).

UKT: British English is non-rhotic, and so is Burmese. Thus, for me, who is bilingual in Burmese and English, rhotic consonants are difficult to grasp. Resorting to Pali-Myanmar (i.e. Pali spoken in Myanmar) offers some help, but not to my satisfaction, because Pali spoken in Myanmar unlike the Pali spoken elsewhere is relatively free of {ra.} and {ra.ris} sounds. In Burmese-Myanmar, {pa. ba.}, {ta. da.} and {ka. ga.} corresponding to British-English /p b/, /t d/ and /k g/ are the only consonants that can be made rhotic by making them into {ra.ris} conjuncts: the {a.wag}-consonants corresponding to British-English fricatives and approximants cannot be made into {ra.ris} conjuncts. [This observation will have to be reviewed.]

{ka. ra.ris} -- index p.(03) listed starting on main p.021 with {kra.}

{ga. ra.ris} -- index p.(07) listed starting on main p.056 with a Pali-Myanmar  word: {groh}(meaning  <planet>)

{nga. ra.ris} -- index p.(08) listed starting on main p.061 with {ngra}. Note:  {ngra.} has a sound exactly like the consonant r2c5 {a.}.

{ta. ra.ris} -- index p.(13) listed starting on main p.112 with {tri.}.

{da. ra.ris} -- index p.(15) listed starting on main p.126 with {dra.}

{pa. ra.ris} -- index p.(19) listed starting on main p.156 with {pra.}

{hpa. ra.ris} -- index p.(21) listed starting on main p.173 with {hpra.}

{ba. ra.ris} -- index p.(23) listed starting on main p.182 with {bra}

{ma. ra.ris} -- index p.(25) listed starting on main p.202 with

{tha. ra.ris} -- non-existent. What appears to be {tha. ra.ris} is actually Burmese-Myanmar vowel {au}.

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{wa.hsw:} -- conjuncts formed with {wa.}

One of the effects of {wa.hsw:} is lip-rounding.

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

The "" can be represented by the digraph "ny".

In forming {wa.hsw:}-conjuncts, two base characters, {na.} and {ra.} have their "foot" shortened.

Almost all akshara-characters can form {wa.hsw:} conjuncts.

{ka. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(03) listed starting on main p. 028 with {kwa}

{hka. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(06) listed starting on main p.050 with {hkwa.}

{ga. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(07) listed starting on main p.056 with {gw:}

{nga. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(08) listed starting on main p.062 with {ngwa:}

{sa. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(09) listed starting on main p.075 with {swa}

{hsa. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(10) listed starting on main p.085 with {hsw}

{za. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(11) listed starting on main p.089 with {zw}

{a. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(12) listed starting on main p.093 with {wut}

{ta. wa.hsw:} -- index p. (13) listed starting on main p.113 with {tw.}

{hta. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(14) listed starting on main p.120 with {htwa}

{da. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(15) listed starting on main p.126 with {dwa.}

{na. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(17) listed starting on main p.135 with {nwa:}

{pa. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(20) listed starting on main p.163 with {pwa.}

{hpa. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(22) listed starting on main p.177 with {hpwa}

{ba. wa.hsw:) -- index p.(23) listed starting on main p.183 with {bwi}

{Ba. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(24) listed starting on main p.188 with {Bwa}

{ma. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(26) listed starting on main p.208 with {mwa.}

{ya. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(28) listed starting on main p.219 with {ywa.}

{ra. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(29) listed starting on main p.230 with {rwa.}

{la. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(31) listed starting on main p.246 with {lw.}

{tha. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(34) listed starting on main p.268 with {thwa}

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{ha.hto:} -- conjuncts formed with {ha.}

One of the functions of {ha.hto:} is to impart an aspirate sound to a akshara-consonant.

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

Only the nasals and {a.wag}-consonant can form {ha.hto:} conjuncts.

Three of the {a.wag}-consonants, {ya.}, {ra.} and {tha.} are used in representing the /ʃ/ sounds in differing situations. See individual cases below. Please note that the IPA given to represent the individual pronunciations are still to be checked with my peers. If only {sha.} were allowed, /ʃ/ sounds would easily be represented by English-Latin <sh> as in <ship> /ʃɪp/.

{nga. ha.hto:} -- index p.(08) listed starting on main p.062 with {ngha:}

{a. ha.hto:} -- index p.(12) listed starting on main p.093 with {ha}

{na. ha.hto:} -- index p.(17) listed starting on main p.136 with {nha.}

{ma. ha.hto:} -- index p.(26) listed starting on main p.209 with {mha.}

{ya. ha.hto:} -- index p.(28) listed starting on main p.220 with {yhak} pronounced /ʃaʔ/, similar to <shack> /ʃk/.

{ra. ha.hto:} -- index p.(29) listed starting on main p.231 with {rha.} pronounced /ʃa/

{la. ha.hto:} -- index p.(31) listed starting on main p.247 with {lhi}

{wa. ha.hto:} -- index p.(33) listed starting on main p.256 with {wh.}

{tha. ha.hto:} -- is not realised, instead of which {tha. ya.ping. ha.hto:} index p.(35) is listed starting on main p.269 with {thhya:} pronounced /ʃaː/

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Multiple-conjuncts

Most of the Myanmars except those on the west coast pronounce the conjuncts formed with {ya.} and {ra.} with almost same pronunciation.

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{ya.ping. wa.hsw:}
Double-conjuncts formed with {ya.} and {wa.}

You can write either {ya.ping. wa.hsw:} or {wa.hsw: ya.ping.}, however the form I have given here is that of MLC Myan-Ortho.

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

For most of Burmese-Myanmar speakers, there is no difference in sound between {ya.ping. wa.hsw:} and {ra.ris wa.hsw:}.

{ka. ya.ping. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(04) listed starting on main p.030 with {kyw:}

{hka. ya.ping. wa.hsw:} -- index p.(06) listed starting on main p.052 with {hkyw}

 

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  {ra.ris wa.hsw:}
Double-conjuncts formed with {ra.} and {wa.}

For most of Burmese-Myanmar speakers, there is no difference in sound between {ya.ping. wa.hsw:} and {ra.ris wa.hsw:}.

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

For most of Burmese-Myanmar speakers, there is no difference in sound between {ya.ping. wa.hsw:} and {ra.ris wa.hsw:}.

{ka. ra.ris  wa.hsw:} -- index p.(04) listed starting on main p.032 with  {krwa.}

{hka. ra.ris  wa.hsw:} -- index p.(06) listed starting on main p.053 with  {hkrwa.}

{pa. ra.ris  wa.hsw:} -- index p.(20) listed starting on main p.164 with  {prwut.}

{ma. ra.ris  wa.hsw:} -- index p.(27) is listed starting on main p.212 with  {mrw}.

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{ya.ping. ha.hto:}

One of the functions of {ha.hto:} is to impart an aspirate sound to a akshara-consonant.

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

{ma. ya.ping. ha.hto:} -- index p.(27) listed starting on main p.212 with  {mhya.}

{la. ya.ping. ha.hto:} -- index p.(32) listed starting on main p.249 with  {lhya}. It is interesting to note that {lhya} is commonly pronounced as monosyllabic /ʃa/ for <tongue>, whereas {lhya:} is commonly pronounced as disyllabic /lə.jaː/.

{tha. ya.ping. ha.hto:} -- index p.(35) listed starting on main p.269 with  {thhya:}, which is commonly pronounced as /ʃaː/.

UKT: Please note that I consider myself to be still a novice with IPA, and I would still have to check my IPA transcriptions with my peers.

 

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{ra.ris ha.hto:}

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

{nga. ra.ris ha.hto:} -- index p.(08) listed starting on main p.062 with  {nghraim:}, which has the same pronunciation as {haim:} even though this word is not in the vocabulary.

{ma. ra.ris ha.hto:} -- index p.(27) listed starting on main p.213 with  {mhru}

 

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{wa.hsw: ha.hto:}

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

{a. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- index p.(12) listed starting on main p.095 with  {hut}

{na. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- index p.(17) listed starting on main p.139 with  {nhwa}

{ma. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- index p.(27) listed starting on main p.214 with  {mhw}

{ra. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- index p.(30) listed starting on main p.234 with  {rhw} pronounced as /ʃweɪ/

{la. wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- index p.(32) listed starting on main p.250 with  {lhwa}

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{ya.pin. wa.hsw: ha.hto:}

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

No such combination is found.

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{ra.ris wa.hsw: ha.hto:}

Observation based on Myanmar Orthography, p. (01) to (36) of Index of mostly monosyllabic words:

The only consonant that can give a triple-conjoined medial is the most easily pronounced consonant: {ma.}. It is the one of the first syllables, or perhaps the very first syllable, a human child learns to utter.

  {ma. ra.ris wa.hsw: ha.hto:} -- index p.(27) listed starting on main p.215 with  {mhrwa}

 

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UKT notes

Approximants
The glides (/j/ and /w/) and the liquids (/ɻ/ and /l/) in American English can be grouped together in a larger category called the approximants. This name comes from the fact that the articulators are brought into closer contact, or approximation, than in any of the vowels. However, the constriction is less than for the obstruents (fricatives and plosives). See the full article, The Approximants, in Structure of Spoken Language http://cslu.cse.ogi.edu/tutordemos/SpectrogramReading/, or my edited article in TIL archives.
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Consonant Conjuncts

UKT: The following is based on The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0, Chapter 09, Unicode Consortium, http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode4.0.0/ch09.pdf

The Indic scripts are noted for a large number of consonant conjunct forms that serve as orthographic abbreviations (ligatures) of two or more adjacent letterforms. This abbreviation takes place only in the context of a consonant cluster. An orthographic consonant cluster is defined as a sequence of characters that represents one or more dead consonants (denoted Cd ) followed by a normal, live consonant letter (denoted Cl ).

UKT: Caution: If you are comparing Devanagari to Myanmar script, you can be easily led astray by this section. In Myanmar there are two types of conjuncts: one type being used as onset and the other present in the coda. And it is sufficient at this point to say that a "killed" consonant is never found in the onset.

Under normal circumstances, a consonant cluster is depicted with a conjunct glyph if such a glyph is available in the current font(s). In the absence of a conjunct glyph, the one or more dead consonants that form part of the cluster are depicted using half-form glyphs. In the absence of half-form glyphs, the dead consonants are depicted using the nominal consonant forms combined with visible virama signs (see Figure 9-3).
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