Are you making that journey to the land of the thousand pagodas?
Are you trying to meet new friends from Burma?
Do you want to impress your colleagues?
Are you thinking of learning the Burmese language and make extra money by speaking it?
Do you simply want to learn Burmese language just for the fun of it?
There are several ways of how you can learn. And it would help if you have an insight into the language that is spoken by the 33 million Burmese people.
Burmese is the country’s official language and there are approximately a hundred regional languages spoken by its ethnic minorities. There are a few other major languages such as Shan, Karen, Chin and Mon. The language is broken down into two categories – the formal language used for literary and official documents or formal speeches and the other is more conversational and colloquial.
Most of the Burmese language and dialects are monosyllabic. The language is heavily influenced by English, Pali and Mon. Chinese languages as well as Sanskrit and Hindi traces are present although of lesser extent. The Pali “loaned” words are mostly used when the discussion is geared towards religion and arts. The English adopted words are widely used for technical terms in measurements and anything related to technology.
The Burmese alphabet has 33 letters and 12 vowels. Did you know that one does not put space between the words when writing? If you still want to continue to learn the language, you should also consider that Burmese spoken language is dependent on its tone. This means that a single word based on contrasting pitch, intensity, vowel quality and duration would have different meanings. You have the ‘checked’, which is short of duration and high pitched. There is a ‘creaky’ tone, where words are pronounced with a high pitch, medium duration and high intensity. The third is the high tone. This is sometimes pronounced relatively long but high in intensity and slightly with breath. The natural and more normal tone is low which is medium in duration and low intensity.
Now that you have a preview of the Burmese language, the next step would be finding a teacher. There are language schools that offer to teach Burmese bhasaat reasonable prices. In this day and age however, most would go with the convenience of learning the language at home. The obvious choice would be the Internet. There is a wide range you can choose from – Youtube instructional videos and online tutorials, which for the most part are free. There are also language exchange websites where the learning goes both ways. A native Burmese who is interested in learning English or possibly another language would advertise their profiles and would show willingness to correspond with you. You teach them your language and in exchange they teach you theirs. You can either text chat, voice chat or email each other. This is more interactive (and fun) than choosing to download programs where you do not hear how the words are exactly spoken. Not only do you learn a new language, you also gain a Burmese friend. Now, how cool is that!