Burma and ethnicity are nearly synonymous, whether when thinking about the diversity of the country, or when analyzing the conflict that has yet to be fully resolved. Ethnicity forms such a naturalized part of the intellectual landscape dealing with the country that few have stopped to consider its complex relationship with language. The decades-long closure of the country means that the ideas of earlier scholarship still continue to hold powerful sway. With new possibilities for travel and research inside, thanks to the political changes starting in 2010, foreign researchers have recently been able to move around more in the country, to observe patterns of language-use, and to speak with people about their thoughts concerning their own identities. This special issue moves forward a long-stalled reconsideration to argue that the relationship between language, ethnicity, and identity in Burma is not necessarily timeless, a given, or set in stone. Rather, language may be one element informing an ongoing process and negotiation that various groups engage in to define themselves in relation to others.