Burmese

Authored by: Julian K. Wheatley

The Sino-Tibetan Languages

Print publication date:  December  2002
Online publication date:  May  2006

Print ISBN: 9780700711291
eBook ISBN: 9780203221051
Adobe ISBN: 9781135797188

10.4324/9780203221051.ch12

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Abstract

Standard Burmese is the official language of Burma, or Myanmar (the latter, a cognate name officially adopted in 1989). Burmese is spoken as a first language by the dominant Burman ethnic community and as a first or second language by the vast majority of the many minority groups living within or close to the borders of the country – nearly 50 million people in all. The standard has evolved from a ‘central’ dialect spoken in the lower valleys of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers. As the formal means of exchange, it has penetrated to most parts of the country, but distinct dialects survive in regions that have historically been insulated from the centralizing forces of the state by mountain ranges or other geographical features.

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