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An update from Evaneos

The most important vocabulary to know during your trip in Burma

Language is what makes us social beings, reflecting our thoughts, differentiating us from other people, other classes, from others in general. Everything flows through the language, everything is thought then expressed. Travelling therefore, forces you into contact with other ideas which need only words to be heard. 

Description of the Burmese Language

For the theoretical side, a little bit boring I know, but I have to address it as a linguist, the Burmese language is spoken by 32 million people, almost 70% of the population speak it as their mother tongue and nearly 10 million speak it as a second language. There are more than 130 recognised ethnic groups and as many languages spoken including Shan, Karen, Kachin, Chin, Mon and Rakhine which are the most common and recognised by the authorities. 

This language is of Tibeto-Burman and Sino-Tibetan origin, of the tonal kind, like the majority of the languages spoken in the regions of South-East Asia and the Pacific (because the vocal chords are easier to manipulate in hot and humid conditions). Burmese is essentially monosyllabic. Its lexicon includes words from Pali (the European language vehicle of Theravada Buddhism). 

A unique language of its type.

When you begin your journey in Myanmar, one the first things that catches your eye is the writing style used. You should be aware that this writing, on a succession of 0 advertising panels and shop fronts, of which you cannot decipher a single letter is writing that is derived from Indian scriptures and ancient forms of Burmese from the Xth and XIth centuries. The vocabulary used in the written word will always be longer and richer than in the spoken word. 

Burmese Scripture and English translation in a Temple

Once there, you will often find yourself in situations where you will be so amazed by one of the many wonders of this country that you will feel compelled to share your thoughts or thanks with the locals. Do not forget also that you should use the language to help yourself (directions, prices, information). In this case, some keywords will help you and even allow you to have a more realistic approach to the culture.

Phrases and words below are phrases that have been given by native speakers and we have tried to do the best translation phonetically. However, remember that there is no official translation into Latin script and that you may struggle to make yourself understood the first time. Do not give up, advice and corrections by the locals will help you to improve. 

If you want to deepen your understanding of the subject, you will find more about the language of Myanmar on the web.

Consider one thing, when we go on holiday we speak English, when we go on a journey we speak another language, that of the Others.

Basic expressions / Common Words

Good morning / Good eveningMingalarbar
How are you?Min nay kow lar?
Fine, thank you, and you?Kow par deh min yaw
I understand / I don't understandNgar nar lae par deh / Ngar nar ma lae bou
SorryNgar taung pan par deh
GoodbyeTat tar
WelcomeGyo so bar deh
Thank you (very much)Jay zu tin bar deh
Excuse meJay zu pyu jouer
My name is...Ngar nam mae ka … phit par deh
No thank youMa yu tot bou. Jay zu bae
Yes / NoHoe tale / ma hoe bou
You're welcomeYa bar deh


How much is it?Dar bé lao lè ?
It is very cheapDi har zay taw deh
It is too expensive!Zay gyi deh
Can you lower the price?Zay shot pay bar lar?
I would like to buy ... this one!Ngar … wal chin deh
I like it / I don't like itNgar jayi tal / Ngar ma jayi bou
MoneyPat San
I'm just looking around.Ngar … shar nae par deh


I would like to go to ...… Twar chin deh
PlaneLay yin pyan
BoatHlae / Thinbaw
BusBus car
I would like to rent ........ nhaa chin deh


Where is ...? / How can I get to ...?Bae nae yar lae? / Bae lo twar ya ma lae ?
Train stationButar yo
Centremyo lae kaung / myo dare
Is it close / far?Ae di nay yar ka ni lar ? way lar?
Straight aheadTet tet twar
Left / RightBey / Nyar
North / South / East / WestMyauk / Taung / Shae / Na

Numberssieben, acht, neun, zehn

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, tentit / nit / thone / lay / ngar / chauk / khone / shit / koe / tasae
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixtynit sae / thone sae / lay sae / ngar sae / chauk sae
seventy, eighty, ninetykhone hnit sae / shit sae / koe sae
One hundredta yar

Hours/Dates and daysDienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag

What time is it?Bae na naing yi shi pi lae?
When?Bae a chain lae
YesterdayMa nae ka
Today (morning/midday/evening)Yanae (manat/naelea/nya)
TomorrowMa nat phyan
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, SundayTannin lar, ingar, boattahoo, kyartarpatae, thaukkyar, sanae, taningannwy
I am here on vacationNgar ka yi htwet nae deh
I am here for businessNgar di mhar a lo lo nae deh

Time to eat!

I am hungry / I am thirstyNgar bye sar deh / ngar yae nghat deh
EnjoyKaung kaung sar gya bar
It was deliciousDi har sar lote kaung deh
What can you recommend?Khin byar bae har ko nhyun lae
I am vegeterianNgar that that lo pae sar bar deh
Not spicy please (I don't like spices)Ngar a sat ma sar bar (Ngar a sat ma jayi bar)
It's too hotDi har a yan pu deh
I am allergicNgar mhar ded ma tae tat yaw gar shi deh
Sea foodA kye khon par tat ngar
PeanutsMiye pae
GlutenKa si de
I would like...Ngar … lo chin deh
Tee / CoffeeLat phat yé / kaw fi
Beer / WineBeer / Wine
The bill, pleaseBill pay bar

Health / Emergency / Security

I need to see a doctor.Sa yar win ta ya lo chin par deh
Call an ambulance / Call 911Sa yar win khaw pay par / lu nar tin yin
Where is the hospital?Say yone bae mhar lae ?
I do not feel very goodNay loe theit ma kow bou
It hurts hereDi nar mhar nar nae deh
Where can I find the restrooms?Eain thar bae mhar lae ?
Help!Kunyi kya par ohn !
DangerAn tae yae
I'm lostNgar lan pyauk nay loe


Have a nice day !Kyaung thaw naye lae phit par sae
Silvia Garcia & François Vioud
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