Archive for November, 2012

[This is a backdated post.]

To be able to pronounce Burmese words correctly by readers, I use MLCTS.

Which was your favourite subject in high school? Though I did well on more than a couple of other subjects, I loved Myanmar subject most while most of the students disliked to study it deeply. Myanmar is the easiest subject to pass and the most difficult one to get distinction. Why? The simple answer is you can’t get it only by studying by-heart though it is a language matter. What you need is a passion to it; a heartily passion to stand its complication, creative usage and god know spelling. Here are obvious examples.

Vocabs about relatives

I can speak three languages and know a bit about another one but I haven’t found such a complicated usage among the relatives except my mother tongue; Burmese. Have you ever thought of  differentiating your uncles from father side and mother side by a word? Well, not only for your parents’ side differentiation but also for the rank between your relatives and parents, there are enough words in Burmese. Let’s see.

We use different words for mother & father side. Plus, we call in different ways according to whether the uncle is older or younger than your parents.

  • Uncle older than father = ဘကြီး /ba gji׃/
  • Uncle younger than father = ဘထွေး  /ba dwei׃/
  • Uncle older than mother = ဦးကြီး/u׃ gji׃/
  • Uncle younger than mother = ဦးလေး /u: lei:/

So only of uncle, there are four types of usage. It similarly implies for “Aunt”, too. And next is depending on your husband/wife. In English, whether she is your husband/wife’s sister or your brother’s wife, you call her only “Sister-in-law” regardless of your gender and same goes for “brother-in-law”. But in Burmese, it goes as follow.

If you are a female,

  • Your husband’s elder brother / Your elder sister’s husband = ခဲအို /khe׃ou/
  • Your husband’s younger brohter / Your younger sister’s husband= မတ် /ma’/
  • Your husband’s sister / Your brother’s wife = ယောက်မ /jaun: ma/

If you are a male,

  • Your wife’s elder sister / Your elder brother’s wife= မရီး /ma ji:/
  • Your wife’s younger sister / Your younger brother’s wife = ခယ်မ /khe ma./
  • Your wife’s brother / Your sister’s wife= ယောက်ဖ /jaú hpa./

Next, if you are a male, you should not call your younger brother as your elder sister does. If you follow the language rules pretty strictly, the usage for

1)elder brother referred by younger sister/brother, အစ်ကို /a̱kou/
2)younger brother referred by elder brother, ညီ / nji/
3)younger brother referred by elder sister, မောင် /maun/
4)younger sister referred by elder sister, ညီမ / nji (nja̱) ma./
5)younger sister referred by elder brother, နှမ /hna̱ ma./

are all way too different! In modern Burmese, not all of above are differentiated accurately, though. Gosh! I just realized that such a number of words are used by us almost daily!

Spelling

Language is arbitrary. Yes, I know. But Burmese is pretty much more arbitrary especially when it comes to spelling. I guess 80% of native Myanmar can’t spell correctly for some daily words. I am addicted to spelling. Let’s see why it should be named “God know spelling”.

As an instance for the word “ကျပ်” /kja’/ (Myanmar Currency), you can spell it in two ways to get the exactly same pronunciation. But only one can use for the correct spelling. Another one is used for the other meanings of “ကျပ်” /kja’/ (Fully packed, tight, strict). Absolutely same pronunciation but totally different ways to spell. There are thousands of such words in Myanmar language. Not everyone can remember how to use it correctly. And there are mostly no reasons to differentiate it, too. (You can find the very old source and attempt to be able to understand it, though.)

Units

There are many ways to count different things correctly in Japanese. Likewise, in Burmese, it has many more ways. We use different units to count TV, flowers, man, animals, car, etc. I had to try pretty hard to get those usages of Japanese so I guess that of Burmese will not go too easily for foreigners as well.

That is what all I can think of for the moment. But this is not to scare you. It is always fun to learn a new language with right approach. Check out this guy, he can speak Burmese quite amazingly. And this Japanese who can speak Burmese, too. He shocked me even with first greeting sentence when we introduced each other. Way too perfect.

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I’ve somehow stumbled upon this and her 8 years of blogging life inspired me to blog right now. I have no idea why I rarely blog here though I assume myself as a blog-addictive since I have a Burmese blog with tons of posts which is now under silence. And I have been writing here, here and here regularly and here and here occasionally so it’s kind of difficult to find time to polish my very own space. Anyway, I’m now back (supposedly).

I’ll be back in Myanmar at the end of December and have read a lot of foreigners who are rushing to my mystical land either for fun or investment. Some travel blogs written about the country in headliners nowadays seem great while others are like with less useful information from a local point of view. So here’s a list of things I’m planning to do during two week vacations and you (if you ain’t a Myanmar) might get an idea how a typical Myanmar based in foreign country would rush to fulfill his/her one year dream.

Food!

I’m not that into Food and pretty picky as I have lachanophobia. But yah… Yangon is just a food paradise for me and I don’t understand how they say Singapore has perfect food. 😛

I’ll have dinner at least twice (most probably thrice) at YKKO for perfect Kyay Oh in Yangon. (Not every Myanmar will agree, I know.) The best thing about YKKO is not its taste but the environment which gives me a sense of reunion with friends. I will be able to check-in, too!

And I must sit down on a stool in front of a pork-stick (Wet Thar Dote Htoe) basket to enjoy super awesome pork sticks. I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I should try it at downtown or somewhere else. It will much depend on my friends.

I do not like Monthinga. And I mean it though it might sound weird considering I’m a Myanmar. (Told ya I’m picky). But I will go for Rakhine Mont Ti (nothing about racist here, please! Just that that soup originated in Rakhine state). It is with similar kind of vermicelli in Monthiga but the soup is totally different. It’s a clear soup but super hot and spicy.

Then, I will throw a food party at Chinatown. Kidding… but not much difference. Steamed pork (Wet Thar Paung) at that tea house, Spring roll with pork (I sound so pork, huh?), Bao zi (with pork #_#), Fried pork :O ribs and Shan Noodle (with pork). After all, it’s Chinatown, absolutely valid excuse of pork!

I guess I don’t need to mention that my mom will cook delicious meals at home, too. So, that’s about it for food. I still want to try some unique things but most of them are not available in December.

Places

I’m dying to go to Kyite Htee Yoe Pagoda(Golden Rock Pagoda) in Mon state but my super awesome friends do not seem to support me. I just want to enjoy the coldest place possible in lower Myanmar (in December.) I have been there like three times, though.

In front of a trandiational Burmese restaurant in Bagan last year

In front of a trandiational Burmese restaurant in Bagan last year

I may go to Pyay (pronounced as Pyi). No specific plan yet. I just don’t remember how it exactly looks like since I was too young when I visited there like 5 ~ 10 years ago.

In Yangon, I want to go to Y.U.F.L which is my university but I’m not too sure will they easily let me in or not. (I’ll write about the unbelievable uni life in Myanmar later. ) But as they said things changed in Myanmar, it should also be changed!

What else? Some of my friends’ homes, downtown, Shwedagon is needless to be mentioned, oh yeah.. I want to go to those pubs that become famous lately though I don’t drink (okay, let’s put it this way) I have not drunk a drop of alcohol. But I do like the atmosphere of a pub/bar. And perhaps I might be somewhere fun at new year night unless my dad insisted me to stay at home.

Do

I will take lots of photos just like last year. I do not own a DSLR so the quality of those awesome (if I say awesome, it’s awesome) images might be under par. The two main reasons I want to have a ton of photos of my own are 1) to donate to Open Myanmar photo project and use on my About Myanmar blog. It’s so fun when you use your own photos to share something. Umm.. no, I don’t really know how to take a picture well, I just emphasize on things rather than presentation (coz I don’t know!)

And will try to meet up with as many friends as possible. My best of best friend will be getting married in Mid Dec so I will give her something lovely.

I guess I will have a chance to meet up with some nice people whom I happen to know only in virtual world of social media but friendship are strong enough just like with normal friends.

Oh yes, I will read many journals just to point out the mistakes. (I’m awfully good at it especially when it comes to Burmese language.) And will try to be a witness if there are any visible changes there in one year after several western political leaders have visited. (I’ll just stop politics here).

Oh, it’s fun just to write it out. I can’t wait!!