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Foreign influence in the Burmese language


Jenny, Mathias (2015). Foreign influence in the Burmese language. In: International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies Burma/Myanmar in Transition: Connectivity, Changes and Challenges, Chiangmai, Thailand, 24 July 2015 - 25 July 2015, 1-21.

Abstract

Burmese has a documented history of one thousand years, and from the very first texts shows influence from foreign languages, especially in its vocabulary. Much less evidence of foreign influence is found in the grammatical structure of Burmese, though a closer look reveals some phrase structures that look rather un-Burmese and seem to be pattern replications from a non-verb-final language, such as Mon. The regular use of
postpositional grammatical markers especially in the written language, probably in indigenous feature of Burmese, may have been reinforced by literary contact with Pali.
Foreign elements in Burmese are important indicators of the
development of the language and contact with other cultures. They not only tell us something about which cultures Burmese was in contact with, but also about the period and kind of contact. Three main sources of foreign elements in Burmese can be identified, namely early Indian (Pali and Sanskrit), early Mon, English, together with various more recent sources, including new Indo-
Aryan languages, Malay, Chinese varieties, and others. This study takes the linguistic evidence, together with what is known of the history of the involved languages and peoples, to draw a picture of contact scenarios into which the Burmese language and culture entered over the past one thousand years.
The Myanmar-English Dictionary by the Myanmar Language
Commission (1993) identifies a large number of loan words in Burmese and indicates the source language, together with a more or less accurate transcription of the original form of the respective words, either in Burmese script (for Sanskrit, Pali, Mon, and Shan) or in Romanized transcription (for all other languages, including Hindi).

Burmese has a documented history of one thousand years, and from the very first texts shows influence from foreign languages, especially in its vocabulary. Much less evidence of foreign influence is found in the grammatical structure of Burmese, though a closer look reveals some phrase structures that look rather un-Burmese and seem to be pattern replications from a non-verb-final language, such as Mon. The regular use of
postpositional grammatical markers especially in the written language, probably in indigenous feature of Burmese, may have been reinforced by literary contact with Pali.
Foreign elements in Burmese are important indicators of the
development of the language and contact with other cultures. They not only tell us something about which cultures Burmese was in contact with, but also about the period and kind of contact. Three main sources of foreign elements in Burmese can be identified, namely early Indian (Pali and Sanskrit), early Mon, English, together with various more recent sources, including new Indo-
Aryan languages, Malay, Chinese varieties, and others. This study takes the linguistic evidence, together with what is known of the history of the involved languages and peoples, to draw a picture of contact scenarios into which the Burmese language and culture entered over the past one thousand years.
The Myanmar-English Dictionary by the Myanmar Language
Commission (1993) identifies a large number of loan words in Burmese and indicates the source language, together with a more or less accurate transcription of the original form of the respective words, either in Burmese script (for Sanskrit, Pali, Mon, and Shan) or in Romanized transcription (for all other languages, including Hindi).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Event End Date:25 July 2015
Deposited On:11 May 2016 13:53
Last Modified:11 May 2016 18:30
Official URL:http://rcsd.soc.cmu.ac.th/web/Burma/docmedia.php?type=1
Related URLs:http://www.burmalibrary.org/
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-124010

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