Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Burmese interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.
Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Burmese language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Burmese language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Burmese language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Burmese language, as well as of the culture and history of the Burmese people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.
The Burmese Language
The Burmese language is part of the Lolo-Burmese branch of the Tibeto-Burmese group of Sino-Tibetan languages. Most of the people in Myanmar, which was formerly Burma, speak Burmese as it is the official language of Myanmar. Additionally, Burmese is spoken in Malaysia, Thailand and the US. It is estimated that 32 million people speak Burmese. Additionally, Burmese is used by the media, government and all levels of education.
All throughout the history of the language, there have been other languages that have had their impact on the Burmese language. Pali and Mon languages were some of the earliest groups of language groups to inhabit Burma in the 12th and 13th century. Later on between the 1500s and 1800s, European languages, such as Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, had influenced the spoken form but not the written form of Burmese. Written Burmese has many Pali words that are not found in the spoken language.
The Burmese language has several dialects, each having only slight regional variations. Some of these dialects include Beik (Merguese, Mergui), Mandalay Burmese, Yangon Burmese, and Yaw. Standard Burmese is based primarily on the dialects that are spoken in the valleys of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers. Additionally, there are two registers of the Burmese languages. They are the formal, which is used in official publications, radio, TV, literature and formal speech and the colloquial register, which is used for everyday communications.
The structure of Burmese is a simple syllabic structure, as are all Sino-Tibetan languages. There are no final consonants. There are eight vowel phonemes and four diphthongs. Burmese is known to be a tonal language, meaning that all the syllables in the Burmese language have prosodic features and are necessary for pronunciation. Prosodic contrasts include pitch, phonation, intensity, duration and vowel quality. Burmese is an analytical language and therefore, the grammatical functions are expressed by word order along with by postpositional particles as opposed to inflections as seen in Indo-European languages. Particles are subject markers, prepositions and can have discourse functions.
In Burmese, the normal word order is Subject-Object-Verb. Nouns do not have gender, number or case. There are many classifiers are each is specific to a noun. Numbers and classifiers follow the noun. Verbs in the Burmese languages have a root plus separate particles that represent mood, aspect, tense, politeness and the positive and negative. The verbs are not conjugated and remain the same, regardless of person, number or tense. In the case of politeness markers, they are very important in the Burmese language. Depending on who is speaking to whom, words such as ‘sir or madam’ are used at the end of sentences to show respect.
The Burmese vocabulary has been affected by Hinduism and Buddhism, therefore making it quite religious. There are loanwords from Pali and English as well, due to the British rule from 1886-1937. Just as the vocabulary was influenced by religions, so too is the writing in Burmese. Burmese script is adapted from Mon script, which came from Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism. It was initially made for Indo-Aryan languages and therefore, does not adequately represent the sounds of the Burmese language. It is written in a syllabic script, where the basic unit is a consonant-based syllable with a vowel. The language is written in rounded letters, since palm leaves were used as writing materials. If the language would have been written with lines, it would have torn the leaves.
Burmese has three main tones. They are high, low and creaky. Other tones are stopped and reduced. The tones are indicated in Burmese writings, used diacritics or special letters.