Burmese is basically a monosyllabic language and each sound could have meaning as in the following.


 yè chá

ဒါ this da
မာ to be hard ma
လာ to come la
နာ to be painful na
ဝါ cotton wa

Learn how some loan-words from foreign languages are Burmanized:


ပါဝါ power (Eng)
ပါလာ parlor (Eng)
မာလာ flower (Pali)
မာယာ magic (Pali)
ကာလာ color (Eng)



At the very beginning of learning Burmese writing, the Burmese learners are taught to read as it is spoken while they need to write orthographically correct not to lose the semantic value of the word.  This teaching indicates that reading a script itself is sometimes different from reading it in a word or a sentence.

In the Reading lessons here, you can notice two phonological differences in reading and writing- weakening of syllable and voicing the consonants.


Look at these words for example: ဗမာစာ and ဆရာ

We will read ဗမာစာ as [bá ma sa] if we try to read as it is written.  However, you will hear it normally read as [bâ ma za].  Notice that [á], the low tone of [a] vowel, is weakened as [â].  It is also true for the [hsá] of the word ဆရာ which is read [hsâ ya].

Below are more examples of the weakening of [á] found in some words in the reading lesson on sentence level.




[khá ná] sound.gif (2534 bytes) [khâ ná] sound.gif (2534 bytes)
အဝ  [á wá] sound.gif (2534 bytes) [â wá] sound.gif (2534 bytes)
မကြာ [má ca] sound.gif (2534 bytes)

[mâ ca]

sound.gif (2534 bytes)
သနား [thá nà] sound.gif (2534 bytes)

[thâ nà]

sound.gif (2534 bytes)




Look at the these words for example: ဗမာစာ and စကားများ

We will read ဗမာစာ [bá ma sa] if we try to read as it is written.  However, you will hear it normally read as ဗ မာ ဇာ Notice that the consonant script [sá lòun] of the last syllable စာ [sa]  is read as ဇာ [za] replacing [sá lòun] with   [zá gwèh], thus the voiceless consonant [s] changes to the voiced consonant  [z].  It is true for the [s]  စ  the first syllable of the word စကားများ which is read as ဇကားများ

The ပါ [pa], the sentence endings in the sentences you learned in the reading lessons, is read as [ba].




သွားပါ  [thwà pa] sound.gif (2534 bytes) [thwà ba] sound.gif (2534 bytes)
အဝစားပါ။ [á wá sà pa] sound.gif (2534 bytes) [â wá sà ba] sound.gif (2534 bytes)



Do not miss the fact that the syllable [sá] of the word စကားများ is both weakened and voiced when it is read or spoken.

Also notice that [thá] is weakened and voiced when we read it as [dhâ] in the sentences အား သ လား and  သနား သ လား The voiceless [th] is similar to the [th] of the English word "thin" and the voiced [dh] similar to [th] of the English word [then].




 အားသလား [à thá là] sound.gif (2534 bytes) [à dhâ là] sound.gif (2534 bytes)
သနားသလား [thá nà thá là] sound.gif (2534 bytes) [thâ nà dhâ là] sound.gif (2534 bytes)



Learners will learn the differences between reading and writing gradually and naturally when they are more familiar with the Burmese speech sounds.