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Burma v. Myanmar (was: A BrSc a? & Nyuu Romaji)

From:Douglas Koller, Latin & French <latinfrench@...>
Date:Monday, April 22, 2002, 21:34
Roger wrote:

>Certainly one of the problems here is that we don't know (1) the intricacies >of Burmese script (of South Indian derivation IIRC), (2) when it was >codified (a long time ago, I suspect) and (3) sound changes that have >affected spoken Burmese since that time. I do know that the written symbol >"s" is now pronounced as [T], and I seem to recall that "ky" is [tS] >(logical enough). Perhaps "r" is now [j], and silent in word-final position >(suggests it might have been an American-style r). Plus, there's simply no >accounting for how the Brits might or might not have (mis)interpreted the >pronunciation. (Or, for that matter, the Burmese authorities who decided to >cleave to the "original" spelling. Perhaps in the 13th C. or so, "myanmar" >somehow reflected the real pronunciation???)
I worked with a native Burmese speaker back in Taiwan, and what I gleaned from him, IIRC, is that these are two separate words for the same thing. I know no Burmese, but to my ear, his pronunciation of what we spell "Burma" was something along the lines of /bVmV/, while "Myanmar" was sump'n like /mjVmmV/ (I know from him that there are three tones in Burmese, but don't know what they are or how to mark them in romanization). IIRC, he said you could kinda-sorta use them interchangeably, but there were political considerations involved (ie: if a government official is standing within earshot, use "Myanmar"; if among friends, anything goes).


Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>