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TIL

Burmese Grammar 1899-2

Parts of Speech and Particle

ch201.htm

by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net
From Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis by A. W. Lonsdale, Education Department, Burma, British Burma Press, Rangoon, 1899. Copied by UKT and staff of TIL . Start: 2008 Aug.

  indx-RBM4M |Top
BG1899-2-indx

Contents of this page
The Parts of Speech
The Particles

 

Author's footnotes

UKT notes  -- note the author's Pali transcriptions: is used in place of ā , e.g., Pli for Pāli .
I am showing Lonsdale's transcriptions within Alt0171-Al0187: ..., e.g. (without slanting the character within)
particles postposition

Noteworthy passages in this file:

... Pli and Latin [including English] are ... Inflexional Languages, but Burmese ... is ... Non-inflexional. Synthetic and Analytic are alternative terms ...  respectively. ... Inflexion, if taken in its literal sense, cannot be applied to Burmese words; so when we speak of inflexion in connexion with the Burmese language, it must be understood that we employ it merely as a matter of convenience to imply the distinctions that are observed in marking the various relations and meanings of words as they enter into composition. ... All the different inflexions to which words are subject in any language are collectively called its Accidence.

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p036

Chapter I
THE PARTS OF SPEECH

{wa-sn~ga.} (fn036-01)

055. A large number of Burmese words are derived from original roots which, by being used with certain particles, are converted into different parts of speech. These root-words or Radicals as they are sometimes called, are monosyllabic consisting of one or more letters, and are of two kinds: (i) those which express the idea of a property, quality or characteristic, thus constituting Adjectival roots; as, {hkyo} 'sweet', {kaung:} 'good', {hso:} 'wicked', etc., and (ii) those which express the idea of being, state or activity, thus constituting Verbal roots; as, {rhi.} 'exists', {aip} 'sleep', {thwa:} 'go', {sa:} 'eat', etc.

These Adjectival and Verbal roots, as they stand by themselves, convey only an abstract idea, and are considered neutral, belonging to no particular part of speech, but may, as already stated, be changed into Nouns, Adjectives, Verbs, and Adverbs by means of particles; thus we get:

From Adjectival root {lha.} 'pretty':

{lha.thau:} 'pretty' (adjective)
{a.lha.} (UKT: 'beauty')
{lha.hkring:} 'prettiness' (noun)
{lha.th}} 'is pretty' (verb)
{lha.swa} 'prettily' (adverb);
{lha.swa-thau:} 'very pretty' (adjective);

From the Verbal root 'eat':

{sa:th} 'eats' (verb)
{a.sa:} 'eating' or 'that which is eaten' (noun)
{sa:hkring:} 'eating' (noun) [{p36end}]
{sa:thau:} 'eating' (adjective).

 

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THE PARTICLES

particle n. 4. Grammar Linguistics a. An uninflected item that has grammatical function but does not clearly belong to one of the major parts of speech, such as up in look up or to in English infinitives. b. In some systems of grammatical analysis, any short function word, including articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. -- AHTD

056. Particles - These are words which have little or no power to stand alone, and to represent an independent meaning. They form the Prefixes  and Affixes which serve to convert Radicals into different parts of speech, and to mark various notions and relations.

These particles, most of which still contain a meaning in themselves, were, no doubt, originally independent words. Several of them, such as {mya:}, {pri}, {pri:}, etc., are still so employed.

057. Burmese words are not inflexional as those of most other languages; and the various relations and meanings of a word simply expressed by affixing certain particles, (alluded to above), without in any way changing the form of the word itself. For example, in English we have man, men; I, me: break, broken. In these examples, the words are actually changed to express their different relationships and meanings. In Burmese, however, the words corresponding to 'man', 'I', and 'break', would suffer no change whatever; affixes only would be added; as, man {lu}, men  {lu-to.}; I {nga}, me {ngaa.ko}; break {kyo:th}, broken {kyo:pri}.

English :   man --> men  (change in spelling or pronunciation <a> to <e>)
Burmese: {lu} --> {lu to.} (addition of affix without change in spelling or vowel)

English :   I --> me   (complete change in spelling and pronunciation)
Burmese: {nga} --> {ngaa. ko} (addition of affix, with change in pronunciation -- creak to checked modal)
   (Lonsdale failed to mention the change in pronunciation. He gave: {nga} --> {nga ko}

English : break --> broken (complete change in spelling and pronunciation)
Burmese: {kyo: th} --> {kyo: pri} (root unchanged; change in affix)

058. In like manner, the same notions can be expressed in Pli and Latin by changing the form of the words thus: -

Pli: {ma.noa~tha.} --> {ma.noa~tha}
Latin: Vir --> viri

Pli: {a.hn} --> {mn}
Latin: Ego --> me

Pli: {Baiz~za.ti.} --> {a.Baiz~zi.}
Latin: Rumpitur --> ruptus est

059. All these changes or modifications are Inflexions, and Pli and Latin are called Inflexional Languages, but Burmese, owing to the absence of such changes, is called Non-inflexional. Synthetic and Analytic are alternative terms used for Inflexional and Non-inflexional respectively.

060. As will be seen from what has been stated above, the term Inflexion, if taken in its literal sense, cannot be applied to Burmese words; so when we speak of inflexion in connexion with the Burmese language, it must be understood that we employ it merely as a matter of convenience to imply the distinctions that are observed in marking the various relations and meanings of words as they enter into composition.

061. All the different inflexions to which words are subject in any language are collectively called its Accidence.

The student who has studied an inflexional language [such as English and Pali], where the task of learning its accidence is by no means a light one, will find the Burmese system comparatively simple.

062. Burmese words are divided into eight classes; they are

[{p038end}]

UKT: In comparing Burmese and English, remember that Burmese uses postpositions in place of English prepositions.

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Author's footnotes

fn036-01 Pli {wa-sa.} 'speech', and {n~ga.} 'a part', 'a member'. fn036-01b

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UKT notes

particles

 

Go back particle-note-b

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postposition

 

Go back postposition-note-b

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End of TIL file