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Like both Mandarin and Thai, Burmese is a tonal language which means pronunciation affects meaning. Difference stresses on the same syllable can change the meaning of a word. Tones are designated with accent marks. A colon (:) denotes a longer, dropping tone. A full stop (.) denotes a shorter, dropping tone. An apostrophe (‘) is a glottal stop. When there is no accent mark, the tone is low and even.

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Basic conversation

  • How are you? Nei kaun: dha la:
  • I’m wel nei kaun: ba deh
  • I’m not well: nei thei’ ma kaun: bu:
  • Thank you: che:zu tin ba deh
  • Thank you (less formal): che:zu: beh
  • Do you understand? Na: leh la:
  • I understand: na: leh ba deh
  • I don’t understand: na: ma leh bu:

Note there are many ways of saying yes:

  • Yes ho’ keh
  • Yes (a male, politely) ho ‘keh.hka mya
  • Yes (a male, answering) hka-mya
  • Yes (a female, politely) ho ‘keh shin’
  • Yes (a female, answering) hka-shin’

 

  • Please repeat pan pyaw: bao un:
  • Speak more clearly shin: shin; pyaw: ba
  • What is it? ba legh:
  • Goodbye: thwa: meh

Accommodation

  • Can I see a room? A-kan chi. Ba ya zei
  • A single room ta yau’ khan:
  • A double room hna yau’. hkan:

Food

  • Is there…? Shi. dha la:
  • I’ll have… sa: meh
  • I’ll drink… thau’ meh
  • Beef curry a-meh: hin:
  • Chicken curry cheh. Tha: hin:
  • Pork curry weh. Tha: hin:
  • Shrimp curry bazun hin:
  • Curry with noodles kau’ hswe:
  • Vegetables hin: dhi:
  • Fruit thi’ thi:
  • Tea leaf salad la peh. Thou
  • Water yei
  • Coffee ka pi
  • Green tea la peh. Yei jan:
  • Beer bi ya

Directions

  • Where is the…? …beh hma leh:
  • Train station mi: ya ta: buda yone
  • Hotel ho the
  • Bank ban
  • Theatre yo’ shin yone
  • Post office sa dai’
  • Airplane lei yin byan
  • Train mi: ya ta:
  • The bus will leave at… bas. Ka: twe: me
  • Trishaw hsai’ka

Health

  • Doctor say a wun
  • Hospital hsei: yone
  • Pharmacy hse: zain
  • Call the doctor sa ya qun ko pei: ba
  • Dentist thwa: say a wun

Shopping

  • How much is…? Be lau’ le:
  • That’s too much. Zei: mya: deh
  • Lower your price. Sho. Ba ohn:
  • Okay kaun: ba bi

Numbers

  • One ti’
  • Two hni’
  • Three thone:
  • Four lei:
  • Five nga:
  • Six hchau’
  • Seven hkun/hkun-ni’
  • Eight hyi’
  • Nine ko:
  • Ten ta-hseh/hseh
  • Eleven hseh.ti’
  • Twelve hseh.hni’
  • Thirteen hseh.thone:
  • Fourteen hseh.lei
  • Fifteen hseh.nga:
  • Sixteen hseh.hcau’
  • Seventeen hseh.hkum
  • Eighteen hseh.hyi’
  • Nineteen hseh.ko:
  • Twenty hma-hseh
  • Thirty thone:zeh
  • Fourty lei:zeh
  • Fifty nga:zeh
  • Sixty hchau’ hseh
  • Seventy hkun-na-hseh
  • Eighty hyi’hseh
  • Ninety ko:zeh
  • One hundred ta-ya
  • One thousand ta htaun
  • Ten thousand ta thaun:
  • Hundred thousand ta thein:
  • One million ta than: