Native speakers: 33 million. Second language: 10 million. The British separated Burma Province from British India in 1937. They also granted the colony a new constitution calling for a fully elected assembly, with many powers given to the Burmese, but this proved to be a divisive issue as some Burmese felt that this was a ploy to exclude them from any further Indian reforms.The ruling military junta changed its name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, a year after thousands were killed in the suppression of a popular uprising. Rangoon also became Yangon. The Adaptation of Expression Law also introduced English language names for other towns, some of which were not ethnically Burmese.
During the colonial period, English became the official language, but Burmese continued as the primary language in all other settings.
Burmese belongs to the Southern Burmish branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages.
Computer fonts and standard keyboard layout.
The Burmese script can be entered from a standard QWERTY keyboard, and is supported within the Unicode standard, meaning it can be read and written from most modern computers and smartphones.
Burmese has complex character rendering requirements, where tone markings and vowel modifications are noted using diacritics. These can be placed before consonants (as with ေ), above them (as with ိ) or even around them (as with ြ). These character clusters are built using multiple keystrokes. Since its introduction in 2007, the most popular Burmese font, Zawgyi, has been near-ubiquitous in Myanmar. Linguist Justin Watkins argues that the ubiquitous use of Zawgyi harms Myanmar languages, including Burmese, by preventing efficient sorting, searching, processing and analyzing Myanmar text through flexible diacritic ordering. Zawgyi is not Unicode-compliant, but occupies the same code space as Unicode Myanmar font. As it is not defined as a standard character encoding, Zawgyi is not built in to any major operating systems as standard. However, allow for its position as the de facto (but largely undocumented) standard within the country, telcos and major smartphone distributors (such as Huawei and Samsung) ship phones with Zawgyi font overwriting standard Unicode-compliant fonts, which are installed on most internationally distributed hardware. Keyboards which have a Zawgyi keyboard layout printed on them are the most commonly available for purchase domestically.
Travel to almost all parts of Myanmar is safe. Smartraveller.gov.au advice says visitors to Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake should use normal safety precautions. Anyone thinking about visiting Rakhine State should reconsider their need for travel. The overall rating for the country is “high degree of caution”.
Download files in the Burmese language learning pack, and check the updated index files.