Wiktionary:About Burmese

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Burmese is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken as a native language by around 32 million people and as a second language by an additional 10 million people. It is the official language of the Union of Myanmar. The ISO 639-1 code for Burmese is my. Wiktionary treats all forms of the language back to the 16th century as the modern language; anything older than that is considered Old Burmese, which has a separate code obr.

The implementation of Burmese script in Unicode is discussed in detail in Unicode Technical Note 11, “Representing Myanmar in Unicode”. Unfortunately, much Burmese found on the Internet does not follow the current Unicode standards, in part because the first attempt at standardizing Burmese in Unicode was a failure and had to be scrapped and completely redone. Yet some Internet pages were written using that first attempt and are now noncompliant with the standard and often totally unreadable. Here at Wiktionary we follow the current standard.

A Burmese entry should follow the same general principles as all other Wiktionary entries do, as outlined at Wiktionary:Entry layout. The most important sections are listed below.


Etymological information about the term: it may be a compound or a root with an affix, in which case {{affix}} may be used. It may be a loanword from another language, in which case {{bor}} and {{der}} may be used. It may be an inherited word from Proto-Sino-Tibetan, in which case {{inh}} may be used. If you are uncertain of the etymology of a term, you can omit the Etymology section altogether, or request an etymology with {{rfe|lang=my}}.


Pronunciation information about the term. In most cases, the template {{my-IPA}} can be used to generate pronunciation and romanization information automatically. See its documentation for instructions on using it, and see Appendix:Burmese pronunciation for details on the phonetic symbols used at Wiktionary. You can use {{rfp|lang=my}} to request pronunciation information.

Headword line[edit]

The heading of the headword line is the part of speech: Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Particle, and so forth. Burmese does not grammatically distinguish adjectives from verbs, so we tend to follow other dictionaries’ lead in deciding whether to call a certain form a verb or an adjective. At any rate, avoid creating two separate sections for a verb and an adjective if the only difference between them would be that the verb means ‘to be [adjective]’. It can be assumed that any Burmese adjective can be used as a verb with that meaning.

For nouns, the headword line can be written using {{my-noun}}; for other parts of speech, use {{head}}. Both of these templates automatically generate a transcription using the MLC Transcription System.

After the headword line, add the definitions. Additional headers for synonyms, antonyms, derived terms, descendants, and so forth may be added in accordance with Wiktionary:Entry layout.

The only inflection in Burmese is the induced creaky tone. These forms are marked "noun form", "verb form", and so forth in the headword line and defined using {{my-ICT of}}.

Sources and references[edit]

Ideally, all Burmese terms should include quotations showing the term being used “in the wild” in a permanently archived source (such as a print book, newspaper, or magazine); however, in practice this is often not feasible. Burmese is considered a limited-documentation language at Wiktionary, which means that a single citation from a source such as a professionally published dictionary is considered sufficient. The largest Burmese dictionary is the Myanmar Language Commission’s Myanmar–English Dictionary, which is available online at http://www.sealang.net/burmese/dictionary.htm. The template {{R:my:MED}} can be used in a References section to link to the online edition. There are templates also for two paper dictionaries: {{R:my:DGF}} for the Burmese/Myanmar Dictionary of Grammatical Forms (especially useful for function words) and {{R:my:WBD}} for Wörterbuch Burmesisch–Deutsch, a Burmese–German dictionary from the 1970s. Note, however, that all these works are under copyright, meaning that we cannot simply copy their information wholesale to Wiktionary. Adoniram Judson’s works on Burmese are now in the public domain, so they can be copied freely, but they should still be cited so that readers know where the information comes from: his big dictionary can be cited, with a link to scans at archive.org, using {{R:my:Judson}}; his grammar books are at Wikisource (s:Author:Adoniram Judson). They should also be used carefully, as they describe a highly literary variety that is very different from the modern colloquial language.