Update: 2016-08-19 04:21 AM -0400


Mon-Myan Language: Grammar, vocabulary
& speech


-- by U Kyaw Tun (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), Daw Khin Wutyi,  and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, Yangon, MYANMAR. Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com
Based on:
1.  Grammatical notes and Vocabulary of the Peguan Language, to which are added a few pages of phrases, etc., by Haswell, J.M., ABM Press (American Baptist Mission Press), Rangoon, 1874
- MonMyan-Haswell-gramm-notes-vocab<> / bkp<> (link chk 160809)
2. A vocabulary of English and Peguan, to which are added a few pages of geographical names , by Stevens, E.O., ABM Press, Rangoon, 1896
- MonMyan-Stevens-vocab<> / bkp<> (link chk 160809)
3. Notes on the transliteration of Burmese alphabet into Roman characters, and vocal and consonantal sounds of the Peguan or Talaing language, by R. C. Temple, Rangoon 1876,
- Mon-Myan-RCTemple-translit-Bur<> / bkp<> (link chk 160809). 
4. Fundamentals of Mon Speech & Script (in Bur-Myan), by Naing Maung Toe, www.monlibrary.com, Yangon, 2007 (Romabama may be applicable in NMT)
- MonMyan-NMgToe-Mon-Bur<> / bkp<> (link chk 160809)
(frequently need to refer to {nga.hsw:} on p047/pdf051)
5. Speaking Mon-Myan Language (MonSPK) - spk-all-indx.htm (link chk 160809)

index.htm | Top

Contents of this page

UKT 151019: If you cannot find a word you are looking for in the vocabulary, refer to
Mon-English Dictionary by R. Halliday (Halliday-MonED), Siam Soc., Bangkok, 1922, pp 512
a reprint of which is available in TIL Library in Yangon. The photocopy of the reprint (in poor quality) is from my friend U Tun Tint of Myanmar Language Commission. 

Mon-Myan Language: Grammar & vocabulary - MV1874-indx.htm - update 160831
  Vocabulary (from Haswell & Stevens: no separate update required) - Has-vocab-indx.htm
  This link is to both vocabs of Haswell and Stevens which are in separate folders.

Speaking Mon-Myan Language (MonSPK) - spk-all-indx.htm - update 160831
  You should also read: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mon_alphabet#Alphabet 151020 

Speech and Script - the elements of a language
Learning a living language : the natural way is first to become
 familiar with textual speech by listening to Buddhist sermons, and
 listening to songs with scripts, and watching the corresponding videos
 such as: downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-Mon-Solo-Dance<> / bkp<> (link chk 160814)
Bama and Mon
Mon-Myan vowels
Checking vowel sound with killed consonants, nasals & approximants
Mon-Myan consonants

Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan are different languages.
Though the same akshara is used, the pronunciations are radically different.

UKT 151012: I will be using the abbreviation ipa  - "is pronounced as" - to show the pronunciation whenever necessary. Remember Haswell's transcription shows Mon-Myan pronunciation

UKT 151023, 160813:
Bookmarks for Mon words for use by TIL editors are based on Bur-Myan phonology. They are being developed step by step:
1. Just go by the primary consonant or onset consonant of the syllable CV. Remember the Mon registers 1/2 blk, 1 blk, and 2 blk (Mon has no emphatic and its use of Visarga is different from Burmese.). See what Visarga is in languages, such as Burmese, Japanese, and Tamil in Wikipedia: -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visarga#Types_of_Visarga 151023
  {ma:.} (1/2 blk), {ma.} (1 blk), {ma} (2 blk)
2. Mon-Myan has hanging-consonants, similar to medial formers in Bur-Myan. These gives "double-consonants" in the onset, e.g. gw- {gw~}, nw- {nw~}, etc. For bookmarks don't bother whether they are medials or conjuncts in pronunciation. Just take them as "double-consonants".
3. NMT gives approximate Bur-Myan pronunciations for Mon words. Use these Bur-Myan pronunciations for bookmarks. e.g. NMT on page066 of print-on-paper book gives Bur-pronunciation for Mon word   ipa  {m~wa} from which you can get the bookmark as: { mwa2 }. However, it is very difficult to search for NMT, or Haswell transcription, and I am now relying mostly on how I heard (marked as ipa ) with which you are bound to disagree.

UKT notes
Doggie's Tale
Coronal consonants : Articulatory phonetics
Excerpt from Mason's Kicsi Grammar in German version
Vowel length : measured in blk units (eye-blinks units)
Vowel analysis : with Formants F1 & F2

Contents of this page

Speech and Script - the elements of a language

- UKT 130310, 140617, ... , 151023

The word "Language" has baffled many of us. In Bur-Myan (Bama sic Burmese speech written in Myanmar script), we differentiate {ba.ma-sa.ka:} 'Burmese speech' as the spoken part, from {mrn-ma-sa} 'Myanmar script' as the written part.

UKT 151023: When was the Myanmar script "invented"? It is now universally accepted that it was used in the Pagan period ca. 1000 AD. Few are aware of what F. Mason had said in his
A Pali grammar on the basis of Kaccayano ({kic~s:} in Bur-Myan), 1868 - PEG-indx.htm (link chk 151023).
See in my note: Excerpt from Mason's Kicsi Grammar in German version . If Mason were right, then we can say that its old form, the Asokan (mis-labelled Brahmi) was in use even before Gautama Buddha was born!

Children in Myanmarpr go to school to learn { n-ga.laip sa} 'English script' - the written part. They don't go to school to learn to speak the spoken English language to speak to the foreigners. Of course from the { n-ga.laip sa} 'English script', we expect to learn to speak some English words { n-ga.laip sa.ka:}.

In our study of BEPS languages - Burmese, English, Pali, & Sanskrit speeches written in Myanmar, Latin, & Devanagari scripts, we try to bring some sense of understanding between four different spoken languages written in three written languages. It seems an impossible task, but with our great need of inter-transcription between Burmese, the language of the majority of the population of Myanmarpr, and the International English language used by hoards of foreigners visiting the country for recreation and business, I feel that I should try to fill in the need.

I have come up with a transcription Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma} based on Bur-Myan phonology for inter-transcription between Burmese and English. To come up with reliable transcription, I have to study the transcription between Pali (related to Burmese) and Sanskrit (related to English). Since both Pali and Sanskrit are 'dead languages' meaning not changing, trying to find a relationship between the two is relatively easy. Based on this relationship I am trying to find a reliable transcription between Burmese and English, both 'living languages', which are changing, especially English, all the time. I am trying to test my knowledge of inter-transcription by including Mon-Myan.

Romabama is not applicable to Mon-Myan. The reason is Bur-Myan belongs to Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman) linguistic group, whereas Mon-Myan is an Austro-Asiatic group. It belongs to the same group as Tamil, and other south Indic languages. You can learn something about language groups in my section on
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary  (FE-BHS) by Franklin Edgerton, 18851963,
- BHS-indx.htm (link chk 151005)
- in which I have included:
  Indic scripts - by UKT, from Unicode Standard Version 4 by Unicode Consortium : the derivatives of Asokan
- indic-indx.htm (link chk 151005)

The only commonality between Bur-Myan & Mon-Myan is the Myanmar script, the common script of indigenous ethnic groups of Myanmarpr including Karen, Pao, and Shan. Because of this I have decided to give only the orthography and the meaning. Even with meaning, I am hesitant to give the political sensitive meanings, as with the meaning of {ku.la:} 'relatives' which have been deliberately changed by interested groups to {ka.la:} 'coloured'. There is nothing derogatory even in the latter word except when you bring in the American issue of Color Discrimination of the 20th century. One medical doctor of south Indian descent from Myanmarpr, an oncology specialist in a well-known medical university in Canada, who I met in Ottawa was really surprised when I told him this. He admitted that he had always thought they have been looked down upon in Myanmarpr our common motherland.

I have removed the Romabama transcriptions. Still, you can sometimes get some meaning from the Myanmar akshara, because Bama and Mon ethnic groups - I have both Bama & Mon ancestry - have been living together for centuries, sharing the same Theravada Buddhist religion and many folk beliefs.

It has been observed again and again that speech divides peoples, but script unites them. Perhaps the oldest account of discrimination based on speech (pronunciation) is found in the Book of Judges in the Christian Bible account of Shibboleth when thousands of people were killed. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibboleth 140605 .

We have a disadvantage with the Myanmar akshara language. Internet does not support our fonts. Because of this I have to write from a Lakkwak (with .gif pix) just like engraving on a stone. See -- lakkwak.gif (link chk 150922).
I can show how Bur-Myan {paaHT hsing.} is pronounced with a color-scheme. You do not need any special font when you use Romabama.

To include Mon-Myan, I have to introduce two glyphs into the Myanmar-akshara matrix. Mon-Myan akshara-index has 5x7 = 35 consonants - two more than Bur-Myan. Because of which I have to extend BEPS Myanmar akshara-index by adding two new glyphs to represent Mon-Myan approximants in row #7 of akshara-matrix. Since I am short of ASCII letters for /b/, I have to choose a look-alike is U00D7 or Alt+0223 even though is it known as "Latin Small Letter Sharp S".

Mon-Myan {a.} and {}.

With Mon-Myan fonts we are running into an unnecessary problem in presentation of {na.hsw:}, {ma.hsw:} and {la.hsw:} due to variation in hand strokes. Compare, presentation in NMT (pdf051) with that of Haswell (pdf 031). Romabama has to come up with a compromise.

TIL {na.hsw:}, {ma.hsw:}, {la.hsw:}, & {wa.hsw:}. Nai Maung Toe pdf p051 gives a variation which agrees with Dr. M. Tin Mon Mon-Burmese letter-bridge, 2006, p.043. TIL has to come up with a compromise to be in conformity with Haswell.

Notice, how {na.hsw:} hand-stroke is clockwise, whereas {ma.hsw:} is anti-clockwise.

To find out what the International community knows, or thinks to know about Myanmarpr, I have mainly based my work on one of the earliest description, published in 1874, of Mon-Myan by Rev. Dr. Haswell.

Dr. Haswell published his work only two years before his death in the 19th century, some twenty years before the printing of book #2. To the contents of Haswell's vocabulary, Stevens had added the definitions of about seven hundred and fifty English words and terms, -- also a small appendix of Geographical Names.

Whenever we deal with the works of Haswell and Stevens, we will have to consult what Sir R. C. Temple - the author of the Thirty Seven Nats - has to say in his Notes on the transliteration of Burmese alphabet into Roman characters, and vocal and consonantal sounds of the Peguan or Talaing language, by R. C. Temple, Rangoon 1876, in TIL SD-Library
- RCTemple-translit-Bur<> (link chk 151007). 

I regret to say that the American missionaries had a poor opinion of the Bur-Myan (Burmese-Myanmar) language because of their ignorance of the Abugida-Akshara system of writing, and also because of their ignorance of the history and geography of Northern Myanmarpr. They also did not realized that Burmese (Bur-Myan) is a Tibeto-Burman (Tib-Bur) language, and that Mon (Mon-Myan) is a Austro-Asiatic language.

It is to be noted that the Western writers in general and the American Baptist missionaries in particular had a very negative attitude towards the religion and the peoples of the united Myanmarpr with their capital in Amarpura and later in Mandalay. See The Burmese Empire a hundred years ago by Father Vincenzo Sangermano,
First published: 1833, with Preface by Cardinal Wiseman, N., dated: Rome, June 1, 1833
Second edition: 1885, with Preface by John Jardine, dated: Rangoon, Apri 5, 1884
Third edition: 1893, with Introduction and Notes by John Jardine and published at Westminster.
Fifth edition: 1966, with Introduction and Notes by John Jardine, translated by Tandy, W. (Susil Gupta, London), 5th ed. 1966, pp.311. I had hand-copied some portions in 1972-73
Reprinted: 1995 ISBN 974-89219-2-1, published by White Orchid Press, Thailand. You can read my critical reading of the book: -- sang-s-indx.htm (link chk 151006),
particularly in Jardine's Introduction -- sang-j-indx.htm (link chk 151006)

I had to stop less than halfway across my critical reading of the Father Sangamano's book because of my mis-readings of many transcripted Bur-Myan words in English. Realizing that I still had to learn Pali, Sanskrit, and Mon to fully comprehend where, how, and why the respected Jesuit priest had been mislead, I had temporarily shelved my project which I had begun some 60 years ago.

To have a balanced view on the attitudes of the Christian missionaries, and British colonial administrators, we should also look into what another Westerner - Sir James George Scott (1851-1935) - writing under the penname Shw Yo had to say about our culture which was about to be under a severe attack by the Westerners and their cohorts from India and Ceylon. See The Burman, his Life and Notions by Shwayyoe, Subject of the Great Queen [Victoria] , First ed. 1882, Macmillan and Co., 1896, 603 pp (615 pdf pages), in TIL SD-Library - BurmanShweYo<> (link chk 151007)
See also - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_George_Scott 151007

The Westerners, among whom I would pinpoint Dr. and Mrs. Judson, had the same negative attitude on the Myanmar kings, and in a way were responsible for the British colonizers to take over the country. All throughout the years stretching from the reign of King Bodawpaya to that of British Annexation, they were in a way encouraging the Mons of Southern Myanmarpr to rise against the government of the day.

UKT 150922: See also - Fun, Fear or Faith: The Story of the Church in Burma (with Dr. J.E.Marks as the central character), by Ruth Henrich, Project Canterbury, Westminster: The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1937
- a downloaded html file in TIL SD-Library - Faith-Story-of-Church-Burma-htm<> 150922
- The paper tells the story of Anglican Missionary Dr. Marks, {hsa.ra-mht-kri:} to the Burmese in Rangoon. See also Wikipedia: Church of the Province of Myanmar
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Province_of_Myanmar 150922

I came to have the above feeling after reading in 1958, the History of the World (title to be checked) by one of my favourite American writers, van Loon, thanks to Dr. John A. Mattor. John used to be my roommate while we were both studying at the IPC (Institute of Paper Chemistry), Appleton, Wis., USA. I remember a passage which John pointed out to me in which van Loon had dismissed the event of Annexation which went something like this: "the people of the country rejoiced when the king -- who was an import from the north -- was captured." The people who rejoiced were presumably the Mons. Because during our "bull sessions" I usually railed against the British colonizers, John pointed out that the world's opinion was in favour of the British take-over. Indeed!,  the people of Myanmarpr, were rejoicing because the British had "liberated" them from their freedom as a nation! What a grand thought!

If you are a serious language student or teacher, you will need the following prerequisites, all of which are my own work and are available without Internet:
1. HUMAN VOICE , Principles of Phonetics and Phonology - indx-HV.htm (link chk 151023)
  Principles of Phonetics and Phonology is the most important prerequisite for language teachers and students.
  If you are more serious, read my treatment, Phonetics for Myanmar - UNIL-indx.htm  (link chk 151001),
  which I have based on online course offered in China by Univ. of Lausanne (UNIL). My work is still in old TIL format
  used in 2004, before I switch to Unicode font. It needs thorough cleaning. 
3. ROMABAMA  {ro:ma.ba.ma} where {ro:ma.} stands for 'backbone' and not 'Roman'.
- RBM-intro-indx.htm (link chk 151023) where you can read about the Basics of Akshara, in Devanagari script in Unicode Consortium Chapter 09.
See downloaded Unicode-ch09<> (link chk 151023)

Contents of this page

Learning a living language

UKT 131223, 151002 :

Syllables {sa.ka:n-su.}, not letters of Alphabet, are the fundamental units of Abugida-Akshara languages. with canonical structure of CV. Mon-Myan is comparable to Skt-Dev, more than to Pal-Myan. The following with sound tracks are from Learn Mon Yourself (referred to as Spk-all : the explanations are in Mon-Myan speech) - http://www.youtube.com/ (link chk 150930)

Learning a human language is fun. A human baby from the moment of birth begins to learn his mother-tongue (now technically called L1). I have based my theories on the following sources:
See First Language Acquisition in LANGUAGE ACQUISITION AND TEACHING by Douglas Brown, 2000, - n-ch02.htm (link chk 150930). What I am doing is learning an L2. Like a baby, my vocabulary is nil. The first step is to be familiar with the sounds of the language. I don't have to know the exact meanings. I am more lucky than the baby. I can watch Mon videos with lyrics to associate Mon-Myan spellings and pronunciation. However, there is one problem. The font used by each website has peculiarity of its own.

When you are quite familiar with the Mon speech (sounds), watch the videos on Mon Dhamma series mostly without script, e.g.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugH_GJ94hQ 151004
The downloaded Videos <> , and SND <)) will be stored in TIL SD-Library at a later date.

Most Mon girls from the villages, not the ones in Yangon and large towns, are quite used to dancing, and in the videos I am presenting, you can see them dance and sing. The following are live songs with script. You can learn the spelling and how it sounds in the song. They have been moved from MonSpk/SpkAll-indx to MonMyan/MonMyan-indx. I have renamed the mp4-video for ease of identification. They are not the names by which the videos have been downloaded and saved. The mp3-sound files are named after the videos from which they are taken.

Solo dance.- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqOym0H5lgM&feature=kp 150930
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-Mon-Solo-Dance<> / bkp<> (link chk 160814)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-Mon-Solo-Dance<)) (link chk 160818)

Pagoda song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-My0P59I7U 150530
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-Pagoda-complete<> / bkp<> (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-Pagoda-complete<)) (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-Pagoda-cut1<)) (link chk 160818)

Dana'kutho - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQbijMTJreY 150930 :
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-Dana'kutho<> / bkp<> (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - bk-cndl-Mon-Dana'kutho<)) (link chk 160818)

Akshara dance - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7nAhGQwIR4 150930
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-aks-dance<> / bkp<> (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-aks-dance<)) (link chk 160818)

Mon village cottage - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roKy-jlfYLY&feature=em-subs_digest 150930
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-cottage<> / bkp<> (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - Mon-Myan-cottage<)) (link chk 160818)

Yellow Pillars - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtVovG2oU_g 150930
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-pillars<> / bkp<>  (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-pillars<)) (link chk 160818)

Golden girls - Dain-tala - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wR0AdwaR8s 150930
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-dain-tala<> / bkp<> (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-dain-tala<)) (link chk 160818)

Blue girls - Mon Heritage 4-1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKMWXMkXnzo 150930
Watch downloaded in TIL SD-Library - MonMyan-Monherit4-1<> / bkp<> (link chk 160818)
Listen downloaded - MonMyan-Monherit4-1<)) (link chk 160818)

Contents of this page

Bama and Mon

-- UKT 130415, 151023, 160818

"Burmese" is the English rendition of the word "Bama" {ba.ma}. The geo-political "country" is Myanmarpr {mrn-ma-prN} -- the "land of Myanmar peoples" -- where many ethnic groups live and hence the peoples are all Myanmars. They speak their own language belonging to different linguistic groups: Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman), Austroasiatic, etc. Burmese is a Tib-Bur language, whereas Mon {mwun} is Austroasiatic -- they are different. Yet because of anatomical sameness of the present-day speakers, their vowel sounds are the same, and if you knew one language you would be able to study the other. Moreover, since the speakers are of Theravada Buddhist faith, you can easily use Pal-Myan as a bridge between the two. Being both a Burmese and a Mon descendant, I cannot be partial to one over the other and I take care to use the alphabetical order in describing the two words "Bama" and "Mon". With my present study, I pay my respects to my great-grandmother Daw M-ma, who hailed from Mayan village an outlying village of the old Dala City (near present-day Twant) in Hanthawaddy District). Daw M-ma must have spoken the Peguan dialect of the Mon language. I also pay my respects to Saya U ShwMhan, ATM, of Thaton, one of my mother's favorite uncles who called himself "Mon Htaw" - the Golden Talaing. [U ShwMhan had used the word "talaing" on himself, because in those days, this word had not been "politicized" into a vulgar word.]

Mon-Myanmar is an Abugida-Akshara -- not an Alphabet-Letter language. Akshara is a syllable and can be pronounced, whereas Letter is mute unless coupled to a vowel. An abugida is an alpha-syllabary or akshara script and is phonetic. The intermediary language to study Mon-Myan is Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma} aka Bur-Lat (Burmese speech written in Latin script). I have devised Romabama as an ASCII script to serve me as an intermediary script between four languages of BEPS (Burmese, English, Pali, & Sanskrit speeches written in Myanmar, Latin, & Devanagari scripts). Confident that Romabama has evolved from a transliteration to a transcription, I am using it as an intermediary script to study Mon-Myan. I am not getting any instruction from a human instructor, and I am using only the internet sources.

Khin Wutyi, my grand-niece, as the technical head of the TIL research group in Yangon, Burma, and her staff, are responsible for downloading and cutting the mp3 files. She sends them to me wherever I might be located - in Canada, or elsewhere, and I edited the whole work. Unfortunately, none of us can read or write Mon-Myan. And so the whole exercise may be viewed as an exercise in Learning-and-Teaching-a-Second-Language.

Romabama has been dealing with two akshara scripts, Bur-Myan & Skt-Dev. The two belongs to different linguistic groups, Burmese to Tib-Bur (Tibeto-Burman), and Sanskrit to IE (Indo-European). Because both Bur-Myan and Skt-Dev are based on the Asokan Brahmi, the oldest script found in the Indic subcontinent, the POA (Point of Articulation) of the consonants are well-defined and are the same. Though there are variations in sound, an educated person speaking slowly and carefully, can be heard by another educated person and can be understood.

It is well recognized that the Asokan script is based on sound phonetical/phonemical principles and can be related to the IPA -- the International Phonetic Alphabet. In fact phonetics has been well studied for thousands of years in the East, well ahead of IPA which had come into existence for only a couple of centuries ago.

Since Myanmar script is the direct descendant, or the modern version of Asokan script, Myanmar script should be considered to be as important as Asokan in our study of old and modern languages.

However, the Western phoneticians usually base their analysis on the pronunciation of the man-on-the-street, and ignoring his own hearing defect due to interference from his own L1, nearly always came to wrong conclusions. What they usually ignore is the listening part which depends on their ear and is very subjective. One way to overcome this problem is to use instrumental analysis and using the formants, mainly F1 and F2, to compare the sound. However for practical purposes it is impossible to use except in the study of individual vowels and consonants for the same linguistic group.

For comparison of the four languages of BEPS, I have to see how our ancient phoneticians, have spelled the syllables and the words. My method can only be used for Abugida-Akshara languages. Since ordinary English speech and script is non-phonetic, I have to use English in IPA script or International Phonetic Alphabet to include English into BEPS languages. Because I am well versed in Burmese and English in pronunciation, history, culture, and religions of the speakers - Burmese with Theravada Buddhism, and English with Christianity - I can also look into not only the dictionary or surface meanings but underlying meanings as well. Because of Pali as a language and my growing understanding of Hinduism - both Shaivite and Vaishnavite, I am able to look into the relationship of Skt-Dev and Pal-Myan for which I am using A. A. Macdonell's Dictionary. It my major and primary work for me in my old age. See - MC-indx.htm (link chk 160818)

My study of Mon-Myan, is just a test for my understanding of BEPS and the use of Romabama as the intermediary language. You should understand that I am not learning to speak Mon - to talk to Mon speakers. I am studying it only linguistically.

CAUTION: Emperor Asoka was Buddhist and not Hindu. Buddhism and Hinduism are radically different. The Brahmins are Hindus, and when the Asoka script has been dubbed Brahmi, Myanmar Buddhist tend to set it aside as the "language of a heretical religion". Though my position is "language must be religion neutral", I have to recognize the fact that for the common people it is not so. So I will call the script found on stone inscriptions of Asoka as the "Asokan", and NOT "Brahmi".

Since the beginning of the year 2013, I have decided to test whether Romabama can be used to study an unknown language, without the help of a human instructor. As a first language to study I have chosen Mon-Myan. Of course, I have to rely on the Internet. In this study I have to include sound files, however the names of the glyphs are given in Bur-Myan. Mon-Myan pronunciation is different. Click on <)) to hear the sound. Or, if you are a researcher, you can visit my work station in Yangon to use the TIL resources and watch videos relating to my study.

Contents of this page

Mon-Myan vowels

-- UKT 130317, 140417, 151006, 160818 

The sounds of a language, particularly the vowels, are produced by different combinations of hyoid muscles. Which combination depends on many factors, particularly the restraints imposed by a linguistic group. These restraints depend on the geography, and prevailing culture of a particular language group. It is your ear which tells you how to use these muscles, and no matter how much you know of the place and the manner of articulation of various consonants, it is almost impossible for people of one language group to reproduce the sounds of another group.

The Burmese and the Mon vowels are different in fine detail. To add more to the complicity is what is called phonation caused by closing and opening of the glottis, which in turn is primarily due to the variations in position of the hyoid bone during speaking. Only comparatively recently have we come to see the closing and opening of the glottis. These happenings in the interior of the vocal apparatus could not have been seen by the ancient phoneticians.
See my work on Human Voice :
Human voice, Phonetics and Phonology - HV-indx.htm > interior.htm (link chk 160818).

Animations from:
http://www.ims.uni-stuttgart.de/phonetik/EGG/page5a.htm (link chk 140423)
Left: speaking Right: quiet breathing
You can also go online to the Univ. Stuttgart site. During normal breathing the glottal area is more open (about 1 sq-cm) while during phonation the area is much reduced (0.05 to 0.1 sq-cm.). During speaking (phonation), the movements are more complex.

Yet, because of the common script each vowel and consonant of Burmese has an equivalent in Mon. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are few, and most Mon speakers can speak Burmese. But it is not the other way around - myself being an example. The fault lies with us, just like the Anglophones in Canada most of whom cannot speak French.

A very noticeable variation is due to lip-rounding. From the orthographies {mwun} (in Bur-Myan), {mun} (in Mon-Myan), we see that r5c5 akshara {ma.} has some element of {wa.hsw:}-sound.

You will notice two sets of vowels in both Bur-Myan & Mon-Myan: {a.wuN} 'beautiful matching pair' and the second {a.a.wuN} 'ugly non-matching pair'. There are three sub-pairs in {a.wuN}, in which the first sub-pair is the short (vow-duration 1 blk), and the second the long (2 blk).

Similarly, there are three sub-pairs in {a.a.wuN}, in which the first sub-pair {} & {:}, does not have such a beautiful relationship. The problem becomes more acute in second sub-pair because Bur-Myan has {au} only. There is no {ou}. Now listen to the
- {a.wuN}-pair - bk-cndl-v1pair<)) (link chk 160818) 
- {a.a.wuN}-pair - bk-cndl-v2pair<)) (link chk 160818)

My representation of the first vowel-letter - different from vowel-sign - of the {a.a.wuN} is {} - the short form of Haswell. What MonSPK or SpkAll has given is the long form. To be in sync with Bur-Myan, I am using {}. 

For comparison of vowel sounds we use the vowel-signs with the "dummy" {a.}. Presenting in this way, we have for the {a.a.wuN} [unified Bur-Myan & Mon-Myan], we have 3 sub-pairs as:

{} {:}, {au} {ou:}, and {n} {a:} . 
- {a.a.wuN}-pair - bk-cndl-v2pair<)) (link chk 160818) 

In the pair {au} & {ou}, what I am hearing is the same register. However according to Haswell, the first is pronounce more lightly than the second keeping in mind that there is no emphatic in Mon-Myan.

In place of {a.}, we can put in {ka.}, {la.} or another consonant and compare the vowel sounds in CV syllables - derived from CV in which = 0.

{ka.} {ka} {ki.} {ki} {ku.} {ku} // {k} {kau} {kn}


The abugida-akshara (different from letter of the alphabet) already has an inherent vowel which is usually represented as {a}. In Bur-Myan, and, in Skt-Dev, the inherent vowel is the same throughout. However in Mon-Myan, the equivalent of Bur-Myan r5c5, {ma.}, sounds like a hybrid of {me} & {mwe}. Leaving aside the w-colouring, we can say that the inherent vowel in {ma.} is {e}. We must remember that there are two kinds of basic consonants in Mon-Myan: those with {a} as intrinsic vowel and those with {}.

UKT 151011: We should remember that there were three different groups of Mons: the Bassein Mons, the Pegu Mons, and the Martaban Mons. It seems that the Bassein Mons including their dialect have disappeared since the King Anawrahta's period in the early part of the millennium 1000-1999. Pegu Mons started disappearing since early Konbaung period ca. 1750. What Haswell is writing about is the Pegu Mons. At present what we can hear as Mon-Myan speech is that of Martaban Mons. I expect there is some difference in the two dialects.

I've been troubled by the pronunciation of English word <cow> /kaʊ/ since my trip to Sydney, Australia, in 1975. I've been pronouncing this word as a monophthong, but was pointed out by Mrs. Jensen (my advisor) that my pronunciation was wrong. She didn't explain in term of phonetics, and even if she did I would not understand. Only 30 years later when I took up Phonetics in Canada, and came across Daniel Jones' DJPD16, did I realized that the word is a diphthong. Then the problem is to represent it either as a monophthong or diphthong in Bur-Myan. We would transcribed it as {kaung:} -- with a killed-{nga.}. Listening to Mon-Myan, {kou} similar to <cow>, repeatedly has convinced me that I could have transcribed as {kauw} with a killed-{wa.}. However, since w is a semi-consonant (don't say "semivowel") in Bur-Myan, I have to drop it and use a u instead: {kou}. Mon speakers may pronounce it as diphthong, but in Bur-Myan it is a monophthong.

There are a few salient points of difference between Mon-Myan and Bur-Myan. But, first, a note of apology: Romabama was primarily designed to write emails in Burmese language. As such, it was designed on the basis of Burmese phonology. The names of the glyphs to be used as bookmarks (which you will not see) are in Bur-Myan pronunciation. I have to set a system of names to be used by TIL HTML editors. Even with Bur-Myan, I find that there are not enough ASCII characters to stand for all the Bur-Myan sounds, and I still have to use a digraph for r1c5 glyph, {nga.} ङ /ŋ/ . Now comes {ng~ra.} for this in Mon-Myan, and I am in a fix. This is found in the {ra.ric} form in Bur-Myan as {ngra.}. Then, Rev. Haswell, on p.006/pdf031, said this {ng~ra.} in Mon-Myan has "Power" of "gn or ng". This has given rise to the suggestion to transcribe {gna.} in the onset, and as {nga.} in the coda. Still, I keep in mind what has been said in the following passage in Bur-Myan, and is much against such changes as involving "gn or ng".

In the above passage, you will see the word {ngrin:} 'argue'. Remember that the basic consonant in this syllable is r1c5 {nga.}. However, the medial {ngra.} sounds like Bur-Myan {a.} and Pal-Myan {a.} showing that there had been a mixed-up in spelling & pronunciation between rows #1 and #2 of the Myanmar akshara matrix for quite a long time. Added to this is my observation that / {a.}/{} should be placed in the Palatal approximant row adjacent to / {ya.}/{y} on the strength of its being killed. If it had been a horizontal conjunct as in Pal-Myan, the conjunct would have broken up into two {a.}. Now throw in the Mon-Myan {ng~ra.} which occupies r1c5 cell in Mon-Myan akshara matrix, and the mix up takes on a grand scale. I may eventually come up with a solution, but for the time being I dare not include Karen-Myan, Pao-Myan, and Shan-Myan.

I also found that there are not enough ASCII characters for the sounds of /d/. There are 4 allophones for /d/: r3c3, r3c4, r4c3, & r4c4. For writing ordinary Burmese, I give priority to r4 consonants, and I name: r4c3 as {da.} द, r4c4 as {Da.} ध. Then, I look for r3 consonants. I came up with r3c3 as {a.} ड, and r3c4 as {a.} ढ. The respective bookmarks are: <da1.gif>, <DDa1.gif>, <d3a1.gif>, and <DD3a1.gif>.

Caution: Do not pronounce the Skt-Dev graphemes द ध ड ढ according to IAST (International Alphabet for Sanskrit Transliteration), because IAST tells you how the syllable is written -- not how it is pronounced.

Starting with Skt-Dev transcribed into Skt-Myan, I found that the Visarga {wic~sa.pauk} is used differently in Skt-Dev - not the same as  in Bur-Myan. In Burmese it stands, for emphatic, whereas in Sanskrit it is for extra-short creak. To get away from the uncertainties in descriptions of "creak, modal, & emphatic", I am now using the vowel-durations in time-duration you take to blink your eye, in blk units.

{a:.} (1/2 blk); {a.} (1 blk); {a} (2 blk); {a:} (2 blk + emphasis)
{aa.} (1/2 blk)

Incorporating Mon-Myan into our study - BEPS (Burmese-English-Pali-Sanskrit), Romabama has to handle the following 'allophones' of the vowel /a/.

Regular Bur-Myan: ------- {aa.} ----- {a.} -- {a} ---- {a:}
Regular Mon-Myan: ------ {a:.} अः -- {a.} -- {a} आ
Nasal of indefinite POA:  {n.} {n} अं

Note that I have to use the three-dot notation in {a:.}, the parallel of which is found in  ஃ -- the Tamil Sign Visarga {wic~sa.pauk} U+0B83.

Contents of this page

Checking the vowel sound
with killed consonants, nasals & approximants

UKT 130417, 140619, 151011, 160818

Lessons in Western-phonetics do not emphasize the coda consonants in the canonical syllable CVC. However, in Abugida-Akshara languages of the East, the coda is a killed consonant, CV, and it effects the pronunciation of the the nuclear vowel. Checking the vowel sound with killed plosive-stops and nasals is quite easy to understand. What is not known is how the sound is effected by killed-approximants, and in Mon-Myan by {a.}-killed where {a.} may considered to be a "consonant".

"In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel (or glide) is a sound, such as English /w/ or /j/ , that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. [1] " -- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semivowel 130417

UKT 151011: Do not think of /w/ or /j/ as semivowels when you are dealing with BEPS. They are semi-consonants or approximant consonants. Remember, language-wise, a half-filled glass is not the same as an half-empty glass .

Whatever the case may be in English, it is important to remember that there are no diphthongs (sometimes called "glides") in Bur-Myan. Native Bur-Myan speakers usually pronounce the English diphthongs as monophthongs, which got the state-scholars into trouble in the US. I am speaking from personal experience of my first trip in 1957-59.

{ya.}/ {y} /j/, and {wa.}/ {w} /o/ are consonants in Bur-Myan. At the most, consider them as semi-consonants. Yet, because their killed-consonants {} & {} cannot check the nuclear vowel completely, they are deemed to have vowel-like properties.

In Bur-Myan, there is an approximant similar to {ya.}/ {y}. It is Nya'gyi {a.}/ {} and it is traditionally placed in r2c5 cell of Bur-Myan akshara-matrix. Traditionalists placed Nya'le {a.}/ {} in the r2c5 cell in what they specified as the Pal-Myan akshara-matrix. They need to have two Myanmar akshara-matrixes - one for Burmese and another for Pali. They recognized that Nya'gyi {a.} can be killed in Bur-Myan, but not in Pal-Myan. They specify that there is no "regular" Nya'gyi {a.} in Pal-Myan, and that it a horizontal conjunct of two Nya'le {a.}:

{a.} = +

Under the Viram, Pali {a.} breaks up into: +

{{a.}-killed --> + ,
giving words like {pi~a} 'education'.

UKT 151011: I contend that in Bur-Myan akshara-matrix, r2c5 cell be solely occupied by Nya'le {a.} as in Pal-Myan akshara-matrix. However, because the Bur-Myan {a.} can be killed producing effects similar to {ya.}, it should be classified as an approximant and placed under Palatal column, and {ya.} placed under the Velar column.

Yet remembering:

It is with a heavy heart that I have to differ from the views of the Traditionalists who were mostly learned Theravada Buddhist monks referred to as {htr kyau to.} in the above passage.

Contents of this page

Mon-Myan consonants

-- UKT 130318 , 140417 , 150921, 160818

Now let us define (as a convention, the names of scripts: 

The script on the Asoka pillars will not be called Brahmi , because most of us associate the name with the Hindu religion. Emperor Asoka was never a Hindu. He was a Jain and then a Buddhist. It has been called Asokan by F. Edgerton who has studied Buddhist texts in Sanskrit. See Franklin Edgerton (18851963),  Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary  (FE-BHS), - BHS-indx.htm (link chk 140417). Alternatively, because Asoka was the Emperor of the Magadha kingdom the descendants of whose script had spread from Afghanistan to Philippines , we may call it the Magadha script.

The Myanmar script, the common script of Myanmarpr must never be thought of as the script of Bama ethnics alone. It is the common binding script of a geographical area now defined as a political unit - the country of Myanmar. The script is used by other ethnics, Bamas, Karens, Mons, Shans, etc. Thus the Myanmar Language Commission is the commission for all the Myanmar languages and not that of Bama alone. Not to bring in misunderstanding leading to discord I use the hyphenated form Burmese-Myanmar (Bur-Myan), Karen-Myanmar (Karen-Myan), Mon-Myanmar (Mon-Myan), and Shan-Myanmar (Shan-Myan).

Listen to Mon-Myan consonants :
Velar - bk-cndl-Mon-row1<))
Palatal - bk-cndl-Mon-row2<))
Retroflex - bk-cndl-Mon-row3<))
Dental - bk-cndl-Mon-row4<))
Labial - bk-cndl-Mon-row5<))
Approximants of row#6 - bk-cndl-Mon-row6<))
Approximants of row#7 - bk-cndl-Mon-row7<))
Mon-akshara song giving all 7 rows - bk-cndl-Mon-aks-song<))

The above being cuts from Learn Mon Yourself (Spk-all) : - spkall-les0461<)) (link chk 151012)
Both ethnics, the Bur-Myan speakers and the Mon-Myan speakers, are Theravada Myanmar Buddhist which holds Pali as their sacred language. It is through Pal-Myan script we can relate the two speeches which sounds radically different. Listen to a Mon-Myan song with Pali words in it and identify the Pali words.
- bk-cndl-Mon-Dana'kutho<)) (link chk 151006)
Just concentrate on the words {da-na. ku.ol} and see how the phrase sounds differently in Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan, yet we know what it means through the written script, which brings up my motto:

Speech divides us - Script unites us.

Through the common script Myanmarpr (and its one-to-one derivative Romabama {ro:ma.ba.ma}) - the common script of my foreparents, the Bur-Myan of U YanShin on one side, and Mon-Myan of Daw MMa on the other, may all the users of the common script remain united!


Remember {a.} is both a vowel and a consonant. When the consonant {a.} is killed we get {} [Alt0248] (by Romabama convention).

Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan both uses the same basic akshara script which is based on the Asoka script aka Asokan -- the oldest script found in the Indian subcontinent. "Asokan" is a term used by Franklin Edgerton, 18851963, in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary  (FE-BHS) - BHS-indx.htm (link chk 140420)

The Asoka script aka Asokan , written on the stone-inscriptions of the Buddhist Emperor Asoka is now dubbed the Brahmi script which gives the wrong impression that it is the script of the Hindu-Brahmins or Brahmin-Poannas {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:} ( {poaN~Na:} are of the axiomatic Atta {t~ta.}-religion). And as such  it is easily set aside by the Myanmar Buddhists (of the Anatta {a.nt~ta.}-religion - non-axiomatic religion - the exact opposite of Atta).

I emphasize that a language must be religion-free, and there must be no religious implications dubbed on a spoken language or the script in which that language is written.

In comparing the scripts by setting them side-by-side, it is important that only the first five rows should be compared because their POAs are well-defined. They are the definable akshara or the {wag} aksharas. Rows #6 & #7 are the ill-defined {a.wag} and should be compared on the basis of their pronunciations only. These are known as approximants. It is on them that speakers of the differing languages argue.

When you compare the Bur-Myan akshara matrix to that of Mon-Myan, you will immediately notice the way r1c5, IPA /ŋ/ (velar), is written. Both in Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan, the basic shape is a circle opened on the right. But in Mon-Myan, there is an attachment, which for convenience sake we will call {ra.hsw:}. It is not an integral part of the akshara, because in words in which r1c5 is killed (coda), it is lost, e.g. {ing-deing} 'a species of oil tree' -- vide Haswell p025.

 Secondly, you will notice that {ha.} {La.} {a.} are present in row#7 of both matrices. However, in Mon-Myan, {a.} is surrounded by two akshara which have the same initial sound /b/, because of which I have transcribed them as: {a.}/{b7a.} and {e}/{b7} with bookmark names, <b7a1.gif> & <b7e2.gif>: See -- lakkwak.gif (link chk 151011) , my standard for BEPS inscriptions.

UKT 151011: There are two things I have to say in connection with the 2 additional akshara of Mon-Myan.

First, since I am short of ASCII letters for /b/, I have to choose a look-alike is U00D7 or Alt+0223 even though it is known as "Latin Small Letter Sharp S".

Second, the formation of Mon-Myan, {a.}/{b7a.} from {wa.} is similar to Skt-Dev formation of ba  from va :

Mon-Myan:  {wa.} + small circle --> {a.}/{b7a.}
Skt-Dev:     va + diagonal   -->  ba

In both cases, an extra mark is added: a small circle inside the basic circle in Mon-Myan and a diagonal line inside the main circle in Skt-Dev.

Because of this, I contend that Mon-Myan is more related to Skt-Dev, than to Pal-Myan. It is probably because of the relationships, the same Pali word, even though spelled the same, sounds differently in Mon-Myan and Bur-Myan.

In Mon-Myan {a.} is both a consonant and a vowel: the consonant has a killed form, {} which simply ends the vowel sound of the nucleus, because of which I have tentatively used {} [Alt0248].


In comparing the scripts by setting them side-by-side, it is important that only the first five rows should be compared because their POAs are well-defined. They are the definable akshara or the {wag} aksharas. Rows #6 & #7 are the ill-defined {a.wag} and should be compared on the basis of their pronunciations only. These are known as approximants. It is on them that speakers of the differing languages argue.

When you compare the Bur-Myan akshara matrix to that of Mon-Myan, you will immediately notice the way r1c5, IPA /ŋ/ (velar), is written. Both in Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan, the basic shape is a circle opened on the right. But in Mon-Myan, there is an attachment, which for convenience sake we will call {ra.hsw:}. It is not an integral part of the akshara, because in words in which r1c5 is killed (coda), it is lost, e.g. {ing-deing} 'a species of oil tree' -- vide Haswell p025.

Contents of this page

UKT notes

Doggie's Tale

Mnemonic The Doggie Tale: 
Little doggie cringe in fear -- ŋ (velar),
  Seeing Ella's flapping ears -- ɲ (palatal)
  And, the Shepard's hanging rear -- ɳ (retroflex).
Doggie so sad he can't get it out
  What's that Kasha क्ष when there's a Kha ख ?
  And when there's Jana ज्ञ what I am to do with Jha झ?

Note to digitizer: you can copy and paste the following,
or you can use the old ASCII letters which you can type from the keyboard:
Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū
Ḍ ḍ Ḥ ḥ Ḷ ḷ Ḹ ḹ Ṁ ṁ Ṃ ṃ Ṅ ṅ Ṇ ṇ Ṛ ṛ Ṝ ṝ Ś ś Ṣ ṣ Ṭ ṭ ɕ ʂ
Instead of Skt-Dev ः {wic~sa.} use "colon" :
Avagraha ऽ use apostrophe
Root sign √  [keyboard Alt507 √ ]
Fricatives : श ś [ɕ] /ʃ/ ; ष ṣ [ʂ] /s/; स s [s] /θ/ ;
Skt-Deva : श ś [ɕ] /ʃ/; ष ṣ [ʂ] /s/; स s [s] /θ/;
Undertie in Dev transcription: ‿ U203F
Infamous trio: <boy> /bɔɪ/, <oil> /ɔɪl/ & <cow> /kaʊ/
   Bur-Myan mispronunciation: {Bweing}, {weing}, {kaung:}
IPA symbols: ɑ ɒ ɔ ə ɚ ɛ ɪ ʌ ʊ ʧ ʤ θ ʃ ŋ ɲ ɳ ɹ /kʰ/ /ː/ /əʳ/
  circumflex-acute :
  ấ U+1EA5 , ế U+1EBF
  upsilon-vrachy  ῠ 
  small-u-breve  ῠ ŭ
  small cap ɶ (ligature OE -- the ordinary letters are ASCII  (Alt0140) & (Alt0156)
⒈⒉⒊⒋⒌ ⒍⒎⒏⒐⒑⒒⒓⒔⒕⒖⒗⒘⒙

Do not forget the older ASCII from which
would have to pick out suitable glyphs:

Alt500 series: ⌠ ⌡ ≈ ∙ √  
Alt510 series: ■ - - ☺ ☻ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠
Alt520 series: ◘ ○ ◙ ♂ ♀ ♪ ♫ ☼ ► ◄
Alt530 series: ↕ ‼ ▬ ↨ ↑ ↓ → ←
Alt540 series: ∟ ↔ ▲ ▼  - ! " # $ %
Alt550 series: & ' ( * + , - . /
Alt560 series: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Alt570 series: : ; < = > ? @ A B C
Alt580 series: D E F G H I J K L M
Alt590 series: O P Q R S T U V

Alt600 series: X Y Z [ \ ] ^ _ ` a   
Alt610 series: b c d e f g h i j k 
Alt620 series: l m n o p q r s t u
Alt630 series: v w x y z { | } ~ ⌂
Alt640 series:  

Alt700 series: ╝ ╜ ╛ ┐ └ ┴ ┬ ├  ┼
Alt710 series: ╞ ╟ ╚ ╔ ╩ ╦ ╠ ═ ╬ ╧
Alt720 series: ╨ ╤ ╥ ╙ ╘ ╒ ╓ ╫ ╪ ┘
Alt730 series: ┌ █ ▄ ▌▐ ▀ α Γ  π 

Alt800 series:  - ! " # $ % & ' ( )
Alt810 series: ! + , - . % 0 1 2 3
Alt820 series: 4 5 6 7 8 9 : ; < =
Alt830 series: > ?  @ A B 9 : ; < =
Alt840 series: H I J K L M N O P Q

Alt900 series:
Alt910 series:
Alt920 series: ₧  
Alt930 series: ⌐
Alt940 series: ░ ▒ ▓ │┤╡

Go back Dog-tale-note-b

Contents of this page

Coronal consonant : Articulatory phonetics

UKT 151001

From time to time I come across Phonetic terms and words which are mixed-up especially in Articulatory phonetics when the articulation of the tongue - a jelly bag whose movements are almost beyond description.

Western phoneticians usually get mixed up when describing Bur-Myan consonants of rows #6 & #7 (the approximants), and of #1 and #2 (the plosive-stops). English speech written in Latin script (Eng-Lat) is a poor info language because of its paucity of nasals - they have only two to describe our five. They can neither articulate nor hear our /ŋ/ (velar), /ɲ/ (palatal), & /ɳ/ (retroflex). Their descriptions of these consonants have confounded me most of the time. Remember, when we describe our POA (Points of Articulation), we start from the interior (velar) to labial (lips). They go in the reverse order from labial to velar, because of which they describe Articulation is almost the opposite of our understanding.

When they come to our lateral consonants - those of {la.} and its medials {lya.}, {lwa.}, {lha.}, {lhya.}, {lhwa.} - they are certainly confused. They have only two lateral sounds to describe our more than six . Throw in our CV (=0) syllables such as {ly:}, and you can only pity them. Don't call in the Hindi speakers, they are no better than English speakers!

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_consonant 151012

Coronal consonants are consonants articulated with the flexible front part of the tongue. Only the coronal consonants can be divided into apical (using the tip of the tongue), laminal (using the blade of the tongue), domed (with the tongue bunched up), or subapical (using the underside of the tongue), as well as a few rarer orientations, [1] because only the front of the tongue has such dexterity. Coronals have another dimension, grooved, that is used to make sibilants [approximant consonants of rows #6 & #7, and plosive-stop consonants of row #2 in Myanmar consonantal matrix - which are beyond understanding of the Western phoneticians.] in combination with the orientations above.

The inset pix is from Phonetics for Myanmar, based on online course offered in China by Univ. of Lausanne (UNIL):- UNIL-indx.htm (link chk 151012)

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorsal_consonant 151012

Dorsal consonants are articulated with the mid body of the tongue (the dorsum). They include the palatal, velar, and in some cases alveolo-palatal and uvular consonants. Dorsals contrast with coronal consonants, articulated with the flexible front of the tongue, and laryngeal consonants, articulated in the pharyngeal cavity.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_consonant 151012

A lateral is an L-like consonant, in which the air-stream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth.

Most commonly, the tip of the tongue makes contact with the upper teeth (see dental consonant) or the upper gum (the alveolar ridge) just behind the teeth (see alveolar consonant). The most common laterals are approximants and belong to the class of liquids, though lateral fricatives and affricates are common in some parts of the world.

The labiodental fricatives [f] and [v] often -- perhaps usually -- have lateral airflow, as the lip blocks the airflow in the center, but they are nonetheless not considered lateral consonants because no language makes a distinction between the two possibilities. [UKT ]

UKT 151012: To include labiodental sounds in BEPS languages - such as Eng-Lat & Skt-Dev - I have to introduce two glyphs into our matrix: {fa.} /f/ and {va.} /v/.

Plosives are never lateral -- although they may have lateral release -- and the distinction is meaningless for nasals and for consonants articulated in the throat.

Consonants are not necessarily lateral or central. Some, such as Japanese r, are not defined by centrality: Japanese r varies allophonically between a central flap [ɾ] and a lateral flap [ɺ].

Go back coronal-conson-note-b

Contents of this page

Excerpt from Mason's Kicsi Grammar in German version

- UKT 151022

F. Mason writes, on p003/pdf034:

Go back Mason-Kicsi-note-b

Contents of this page

Vowel length

- UKT 140622, 151001

The "longness" or the duration of a vowel is your own perception. And you can described it in terms of the duration of eye-blinks. We call the vowel which lasts one eye-blink the short vowel, and that which lasts two eye-blinks the long vowel. When a short vowel becomes shorter and lasts only 1/2 eye-blink, we call it a creak. Examples:

Bur-Myan: {aa.}, {a.}, {a} : {a:} is "long + emphasis".
Mon-Myan: {a:.}, {a.},  {a}

There is no clear cut short-long distinction. Each vowel has its own length. The following are RP (Brit English) vowel lengths in centi-seconds:

from a course in Phonetics offered by Ptur Kntsson, https://notendur.hi.is/peturk/KENNSLA/02/TOP/VowelLength0.html 140622

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel_length 120422

In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. Often the chroneme, or the "longness", acts like a consonant, and may have arisen from one etymologically, such as in Australian English. [UKT ]

While not distinctive in most other dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in many other languages, for instance in Finnish, Fijian, Japanese, Old English, and Vietnamese. It plays a phonetic role in the majority of dialects of English English [UKT: the double word indicates the English dialects spoken in England], and is said to be phonemic in a few other dialects, such as Australian English and New Zealand English. It also plays a lesser phonetic role in Cantonese, which is exceptional among the spoken variants of Chinese.

Many languages do not distinguish vowel length phonemically, and those that do usually distinguish between short vowels and long vowels. There are very few languages that distinguish three phonemic vowel lengths, for instance Luiseo and Mixe. However, some languages with two vowel lengths also have words where long vowels appear adjacent to other short or long vowels of the same type, e.g. Japanese hōō "phoenix", Estonian jr "ice edge", or Ancient Greek ἀάατος [a.ˈː.a.tos][1] "inviolable". Some languages that do not ordinarily have phonemic vowel length but do permit vowel hiatus may similarly exhibit sequences of identical vowel phonemes that yield phonetically long vowels, such as Georgian გააადვილებ [ɡa.a.ad.vil.eb] "you will facilitate it".

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Many languages make a phonemic distinction between long and short vowels: Sanskrit, Japanese, Hebrew, Finnish, Hungarian, Kannada etc.

Long vowels may or may not be separate phonemes. In Latin and Hungarian, long vowels are separate phonemes from short vowels, thus doubling the number of vowel phonemes.

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

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Vowel Analysis : analysis of sounds by use of Formants

- UKT 140618, 151012:

When you listen to Mon-Myan vowels, you will notice that there are many differences from Bur-Myan even though they have the same spelling. No descriptive distinction can actually tell the difference. In fact descriptions such as "[AH] as in "FATHER" has led my wife and me astray when we began learning phonetics. The only hope is to find the formants of vowels produced by group of statistically-significant number of speakers. So we must know what the formants are and how they are measured. However, I have not found such a study of comparing Bur-Myan vowels to Mon-Myan !

Vowels have been studied studied analytically for at least the last 400 years. See:

See: - Historical Development of Phonetic vowel systems - by M.A. Bittner, - http://www.academia.edu/4175679/Historical_Development_of_Phonetic_Vowel_Systems 140618

01. Robert Robinson, 1617  : Robinson's work from 1617 contains the first serious attempts to graphically capture and stylize the tongue positions during vowel production. Robinson distinguish 10 vowels, that can be divided into 5 long and 5 short vowels, and assigned them symbols rather uncommon today. Quite evidently, Robinson took an introspective pseudo-Articulatory approach since the stylized tongue positions do not reflect articulatory reality.

02. John Wallis, 1653
03. Samuel Reyher, 1679
04. Christoph F. Hellwag, 1781
05. Wolfgang von Kempelen, 1791
06. Jorgen Forchhammer, 1913

07. Daniel Jones, 1917 : See Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel-Jones-phonetician 151012

08. Pierre Delattre et al., 1952
09. Roger Kingdon, 1964
10. International Phonetic Association, 1988-1993

11. Formants, F1, F2 - Ref: U Kyaw Tun, Tun Inst. of Learning

From: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/music/vowel.html 140618

The vocal resonances are altered by the articulators to form distinguishable vowel sounds. The peaks in the vowel spectra are called vocal formants. Note the prominent role of the tongue in this process. The jaw position and lips also play a major part.

The sketches at left above are adapted from Gunnar Fant's "Acoustic theory of speech production" and are reportedly sketches taken from x-rays of the head during the production of these sounds. [UKT ]

UKT: To compare languages we use a portion of the vowel quadrilateral, known as a vowel triangle. Three long vowels, {a}, {i} and {u} are usually chosen. But be careful, it is only in the American accent you find {a} : In the British accent the word <father> has the  vowel {au}. 

<father>  /'fɑː.əʳ/ -- DJPD16-199

It sounds like {hpau:a:} .

These are the vowels classified as IPA [a], [i], and  [u] and roughly correlate with the vowels represented in the spectra from Benade. The emphasis should be on "roughly" since I don't know how close the correlation is. The intent here is to illustrate the role of the articulators and to point to the fact that their action has a major influence on the harmonic content of the voiced sounds. The normal ear is able to clearly distinguish those differences.

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