Outline of Burmese Grammar

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Chapter Page
Introduction 5

1. Phonemes, 1–30
Pattern, 1–7 7
Consonants, 8–15 7
Vowels, 16–24 8
Juncture and Sandhi, 25–30 9

2. Survey of Grammar, 31–33

3. The Sentence, 34–78
Sentence types, 36–49 12, 13
Subordinating particles, 50–60 14
General particles, 61–76 15
Minor sentences, 77 16
Parataxis, 78 17

4. Verb Expressions, 79–120
Subordinate verb expressions, 81 18
Noun expression attributes, 82–86 18
Secondary verb particles, 87–108 19
Auxiliary verbs, 109–120 21

5. Noun expressions, 121–148
Interrogative nouns, 131 24
Numerals, 132–140 25
Classifiers, 141–148 26

6. Derivation, 149–178
Proclitic particles, 150–151 29
Enclitic particles, 152–162 29
Doubled verbs, 163–171 31
Doubled nouns, 172–178 32

Index of Bound Forms


The following study is an analysis of the speech of one speaker, Maung Shwe Waing (máun šwéi wâin) of Taw Wi village (tó wì ywá) in Lower Burma some one hundred miles north of Rangoon. Mr. Shwe Waing was born August 15, 1902 (gôzá θagayiɁ tatháun hnayà chausshè ŋâgù hniɁ, wágáun làzân shè tayeɁ, tanînlá nèi nyà shè tanáyí Ɂachéin ‘in the year 1265, eleventh day of the waxing moon, Monday[1] at eleven o’clock in the evening’). For seven years, from his seventh to his fourteenth year, he attended the local monastery school. At the age of eighteen he left Taw Wi for Rangoon. In 1921 he shipped aboard a steamer as fireman. The next twenty years he spent aboard ship, until he came to the United States in 1940. From June 1943 to the present he has served as tutor for Burmese in the Army Specialized Training Program at Yale University.

Since this is a study of the subject’s colloquial speech, it has been necessary to make a sharp and arbitrary distinction between his colloquial speech and his knowledge of the literary language. This task was made easier by two conditions: the literary language is in general quite distinct from the colloquial; the needs of the soldiers who were learning the language put the emphasis on everyday speech. The selection of examples in the following pages was made almost entirely from the material which was prepared for class work or which developed out of drill session activities.

Mr. Shwe Waing is an excellent informant. His knowledge of English is limited and his dislike of speaking it is marked. He has no tendency toward philosophizing about language in either Burmese or English, and his ability to explain in Burmese the meaning of a Burmese locution is phenomenal. His patience and co-operation are unlimited.

The first activity in Burmese at Yale began in the Fall of 1942 with Dr. Raven Ioor McDavid Jr. working under the general direction of Professor Leonard Bloomfield. The work was done under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies through fellowships from the National School of Modern Oriental Languages and Civilizations. Dr. McDavid was forced by ill health to retire from the project in the Spring of 1943. Up to that time we had had the opportunity of observing the speech of three Burmans, Mg. Thein Tin of Amyin, U Po Thoung Allamon of Moulmein, and, for a few hours, U Hpu of Mogok. The phonemic analysis of Burmese was completed by Dr. McDavid, and I am indebted to him for his permission to use in this study the results of his work. He is not, however, to be considered responsible for the presentation that follows.

Some time after the preliminary analysis of the syntax had been made it was my good fortune to obtain from England a copy of Stewart, An Introduction to Colloquial Burmese, Rangoon 1936. Stewart’s analysis of the parts of speech of Burmese confirmed my own analysis. Beyond our agreement as to the two parts of speech in the language, an examination of the two studies will show that they have little in common.

Some help in breaking into the language was afforded by Grant Brown, Half the Battle in Burmese, London 1910. This little book is charmingly written and sanely conceived. It pays no attention, however, to the problem which I have here attacked, that of syntax (cf. pp. 38–40).

Armstrong and Tin, A Burmese Phonetic Reader, London 1925, contains an elaborate description of the phonetics of the language. There is no attempt at a syntactic analysis, and in general the texts are in a style that ‘is typical of that spoken by the educated classes of Lower Burma’ (p. 1).

H. O. Reynolds, Some Notes on Colloquial Burmese Syntax, Rangoon 1933, suffers from its arrangement, which is based on the English equivalent of the Burmese. As the author says in his preface (p. i), ‘The notes do not pretend to be a complete syntax of colloquial Burmese, or to replace the standard textbooks on the grammar and construction of the language’; and again (p. ii), ‘no great precision in terminology is claimed, and inconsistencies will be found in the use of terms like adverb, preposition, conjunction, and particle.’ As a matter of fact the book merely tries to fit Burmese forms into English categories.

Taw Sein Ko, Elementary Handbook of the Burmese Language⁴, Rangoon 1939, is a useful grouping of Burmese phrases. The attempt at syntactic analysis is based on the literary language. The author says in the Introduction (p. vii) that ‘the Burmese language can be made interesting by studying it from a philological standpoint.’

A. Judson, A Grammar of the Burmese Language, Rangoon 1888, suffers from the author’s attempt to force Burmese into the Indo-European pattern. Some of the chapter divisions are headed ‘number, gender, case, nominative, objective, ablative,’ and so on.

Of the older grammars, none of which was useful, I shall name those to which I have had access.

J. E. Bridges, The Burmese Manual, London and Rangoon 1906.

F. A. L. Davidson, Anglicized Colloquial Burmese or, How to speak the language in three months, London 1889.

H. K. Gordon, A Hand-book to Colloquial Burmese in the Roman Character, Rangoon 1886.

W. H. Sloan, A Practical Method with the Burmese Language, Rangoon 1876.

R. F. St.A. St. John, Burmese Self-taught (in Burmese and Roman Characters) with phonetic pronunciation, London 1936.

Considerable use has been made of the excellent Judson, Burmese English Dictionary, Rangoon 1921, and the Judson, English Burmese Dictionary, Rangoon 1922. Tun Nyein, The Student’s English Burmese Dictionary, Rangoon 1936, has also been of some help.

In conclusion I should like to acknoweldge my debt of gratitude to the American Council of Learned Societies and to Dr. J. Milton Cowan for their aid and encouragement in this undertaking. Professors Franklin Edgerton, George A. Kennedy, and Edgar H. Sturtevant have read and criticized the presentation and I have been able to make use of their suggestions. I am indebted to Professor Bernard Bloch for his advice and assistance in preparing the manuscript for the printer. My greatest obligation is to Professor Leonard Bloomfield for his guidance and for his unfailing patience and kindness.


1. Burmese speech sounds will here be classed in the following pattern: twenty-nine consonants, nine vowels, and four tones.

2. The consonants are /k, kh, g, ŋ, hŋ, s, sh, z, š, c, ch, j, t, th, d, n, hn, p, ph, b, m, hm, l, hl, θ, y, w, h, Ɂ/. The vowels are /a, i, u, ei, ou, e, o, ai, au/.

/r/, a tongue tip trill, occurs in two words: tareisshán ‘animal’, and parìbôgà, ‘household furnishings.’ Both are Pali words.

3. Each syllable consists of a consonant or a cluster plus a vowel, spoken on one of the four tones or atonically. Of the vowels, /a, i, u, ei, ou, ai, au/ occur also with nasal final.

4. There are four tones. For details see sections 2530. Tone I is indicated by an acute accent /´/, tone II by a circumflex /ˆ/, tone III by a grave /`/, and tone IV is written with a final Ɂ.

plain caɁ
nasal cán cân càn

‘water lily’; cán ‘sugar cane’; ‘tiger’; cân ‘floor’; càn ‘rhinoceros’; caɁ ‘rupee’; càdé ‘falls’ (verbs will be quoted throughout with ‑té final particle. See 36). Syllables in tone IV never have nasal finals.

5. Initial clusters consist of two consonants; the second is /w/ or /y/. /w/ as second member occurs after all consonants except /w/ and /Ɂ/. /y/ as second member occurs after /p, ph, b, m, hm, n, hn/[2].

6. The initial consonant or cluster is followed by a vowel. The vowels /a, i, u, ei, ou/ occur in all four tones as plain finals and in tones I, II, and III with final nasal. /e/ occurs in all four tones as plain final. /o/ occurs in tones I, II, and III as plain final. /ai, au/ occur in tones I, II, and III with final nasal and in tone IV as plain final.

7. Toneless syllables consist of consonant followed by a neutral vowel which we write as a without a tone mark. A toneless syllable never stands alone and is never final in a group.

Consonants, 8–15

8. Stop, affricate, and sibilant consonants occur in five positions: velar stop, prepalatal affricate, normal sibilant, alveolar stop, and labial stop; and in three orders: plain voiceless, aspirated voiceless, and plain voiced.

plain p t s c k
aspirated ph th sh ch kh
voiced b d z j g

káundé ‘is good’
caɁ ‘rupee’
sún ‘vigor’
tûdé ‘digs’
pîdé ‘finishes’

khâun ‘coffin’
chaɁ (classifier)
shûn ‘rice for priest’
thûdé ‘is different’
phîdé ‘combs’

gáun ‘head’
jaɁ ‘castanets’
zûn ‘spoon’

9. There is also an unvoiced hush sibilant: šei ‘former times’.

10. The nasals occur in three positions: velar, alveolar, and labial. In each position there are two members: plain and preaspirated.

ŋâ ‘fish, five’
nândé ‘kisses, smells’
mádé ‘is hard’

hŋádé ‘borrows, lends’
hnân ‘sesamum’
hmádé ‘instructs’

11. The laterals are plain and preaspirated: léi ‘wind’; hléi ‘boat’.

12. The semivowels are /y/ and /w/: yêidé ‘writes’; wêidé ‘is distant’.

13. The interdental fricative /θ/ occurs in both voiceless and voiced variants. For convenience we write ð to represent the voiced variants: θaθθalâ, ‘did (he) kill (it)?’: θéiðalâ ‘is (he) dead?’

14. The glottal spirant is written /h/ and the glottal stop /Ɂ/: houtté ‘(it) is so’; ɁouɁ ‘brick’.

15. In the absolute form of words, voiceless stops, affricates, and sibilants are far more numerous than their voiced counterparts. Sandhi voicing (2829) reduces the disparity.

Vowels, 16–24

16. /a/: Tones I, II, III, plain and nasal final; low central retracted: ‘water lily’; ‘tiger’; càdé ‘falls’; cán ‘sugar cane’: cân ‘floor’; càn ‘rhinoceros’.

Tone IV; higher low central: catté ‘is tight’; zaɁ ‘drama’.

Toneless; mid central, lax and variable: zagabyán ‘interpreter’; tayouɁ ‘Chinese’; sâzayá ‘food’.

17. /i/: Tones I, II, III, plain final; high front unrounded, slightly retracted and lowered: thí ‘lottery’; thî ‘umbrella’; thìdé ‘touches’.

Tones I, II, III, nasal final and tone IV; lower high front unrounded, slightly retracted: myíndé ‘sees’; myîn ‘horse’; myìndé ‘is tall’; myiɁ ‘river’.

18. /u/: Tones I, II, III, plain final; high back rounded, slightly fronted: shúdé ‘is boiling’; shû ‘thorn’; shù ‘reward’.

Tones I, II, III, nasal final and tone IV; lower high back rounded, slightly fronted: wewwún ‘bear’; wûn ‘belly’; šùn ‘mud’; wutté ‘wears (clothes)’.

19. /ei/: Tones I, II, III, plain final; higher mid front unrounded, slightly lowered, not diphthongal when final: néi ‘sun’; lêi ‘four’; nèi ‘day (of 12 hours)’.

Tones I, II, III, nasal final and tone IV; higher mid front unrounded, somewhat lower than the preceding, with a glide to lower high front, slightly retracted: séin ‘diamond’; séindé ‘is green’; sèindé ‘drips’; seiɁ ‘mind’.

20. /ou/: Tones I, II, III, plain final; higher mid back rounded, slightly lowered, not diphthongal when final: póudé ‘exceeds’; pôu ‘silk’; pòudé ‘conveys’.

Tones I, II, III, nasal final and tone IV; higher mid back rounded, somewhat lower than the preceding, with a glide to lower high back, slightly fronted: póun ‘story, picture’; pôun ‘container’; pòundé ‘swells up’; poutté ‘is putrid’.

21. /e/: Tones I, II, III, plain final and tone IV; lower mid front, slightly raised: phédé ‘puts aside’; phê ‘playing cards’; phèdé ‘breaks off’; phetté ‘hugs, embraces’.

22. /o/: Tones I, II, III, plain final; lower mid back rounded, slightly raised: pyódé ‘is happy’; pyôdé ‘says, speaks’; pyòdé ‘is soft’.

23. /ai/: Tones I, II, III, nasal final and tone IV; low central, with a glide to lower high front, slightly retracted: sháin ‘shop’; shâindé ‘waits’; jàin ‘hole in the road’; saitté ‘plants, sets up’.

24. /au/: Tones I, II, III, nasal final and tone IV; low central, with a glide to lower high back, slightly fronted: cáun ‘cat’: câun ‘school’; dájàun ‘that reason’; cautté ‘is afraid’.

Juncture and Sandhi, 25–30

25. Period, comma, space, and colon indicate open junctures. Syllables in close juncture are here written without space or punctuation between them, except where the initial of the second syllable is ny- (see 28).

26. Period and comma represent juncture in which the tone curve of the preceding syllable is that of the syllable in absolute position. Pause is always preceded by period or comma intonation, or by suspensive intonation (30).

Tone I: low, level, and long, accompanied often by a gentle rise at the end.

Tone II: high, long, and falling toward the end.

Tone III: high, short, and falling, with a slow glottal closure.

Tone IV: high, extremely short, with a sharp glottal closure.

27. Space represents juncture in which the tone curve of the preceding syllable is as follows:

Tone I: low, level, and shorter than before comma or period. It does not rise at the end.

Tone II: high and long, but does not fall.

Tone III: same as before comma or period, except that the glottal closure is not so slow.

Tone IV: same as before comma or period, except that in very rapid speech the final glottal stop sometimes assimilates as in close juncture (28).


Tone I: yú ládé ‘(he) brought (it)’; pyán ládé ‘(he) came back’

Tone II: θwâ néidé ‘(he) is going’; lân šautté ‘(he) walked’

Tone III: tèdè θwâbá ‘go straight ahead’; kànlàn šidé ‘(it) is crosswise’

Tone IV: θeiɁ kâundé ‘(it) is very good’

28. Syllables written together without intervening space or punctuation are spoken in close juncture. When a syllable precedes another syllable in close juncture its tone curve is as follows:

Tone I: low, level, and shorter than before space.

Tone II: high, not so long as before space, and rising.

Tone III: high, short, and without glottal closure.

Tone IV: high, and extremely short; the glottal closure is replaced by a plain unvoiced stop of the same position (8) as the initial sound of the following syllable.

Nasal finals of tones I, II, and III are replaced by nasals of the same position (10) as the initial sound of the following syllable.


Tone I: lábá ‘come’; pímbândé ‘(he) is tired’

Tone II: lêiyauɁ ‘four (people)’; sînzâdé ‘(he) thinks’

Tone III: tèdè ‘straight ahead’; kànlàn ‘crosswise’

Tone IV: θauppá ‘drink’; θaummé ‘(he) will drink’; θautté ‘(he) drinks’; maθauθθêibû,‘(he) has not drunk yet’; chaunnáyí ‘6 o’clock’; θauccàzòu ‘let us drink’; paisshán ‘money’; laikkhèbá ‘follow’; phaɁɁôummé ‘(I) will read on’

In one case, when a syllable with initial ny- follows a plain final, this way of writing is ambiguous. That is, kúnyidé might be interpreted either as kú nyídé or *kún yídé. In this case kú-nyídé ‘(he) helps’ will be written (see 25).

When two syllables spoken in one of tones II, III, or IV are in close juncture, the first is higher in pitch and louder than the second.


khawwêiwêigà ‘from afar’; kâuŋgâun loutté ‘(he) works well’; tèdè θwâbá ‘go straight ahead’; kànlàn šidé ‘(it) is crosswise’; touttouɁ wàwà Ɂapyóuhlà ‘a short, fat, pretty girl’

29. When a syllable with an unvoiced initial consonant is preceded in close juncture by a syllable in tone I, II, or III, the unvoiced initial consonant is replaced by a voiced consonant as follows:

Unvoiced stops, affricates, and normal sibilants are replaced by the voiced phoneme of the same position:

louppá ‘do (it)’: lábá ‘come’: θwâbá ‘go’: pyàbá ‘point’; loutté ‘(he) does (it)’: ládé ‘(he) comes’: θwâdé ‘(he) goes’: pyàdé ‘(he) points’; louccàdé ‘(they) do (it)’: lájàdé ‘(they) come’: θwâjàdé ‘(they) go’: pyàjàdé ‘(they) point’: lousséijíndé ‘(I) want to have (him) do (it)’: lázéijíndé ‘(I) want to have (him) come’: θwâzéijíndé ‘(I) want to have (him) go’: pyàzéijíndé ‘(I) want to have (him) point’; loukkhêdé ‘(it) is hard to do’: lágêdé ‘(it) is hard to come’: θwâgêdé ‘(it) is hard to go’: twèigêdé ‘(they) are hard to find’

The dental fricative /θ/ appears in its voiced variant ð (13): θaθθalâ ‘did (he) kill (it)?’: θéiðalâ ‘is (he) dead?’

The phonemes /š, h, Ɂ/ (9, 14) and the preaspirated nasals and lateral (10, 11) are not replaced:

sáunšautté ‘(he) looks after (it)’; meisshwéihâun ‘old friend’; yéiɁôu ‘water jar’; yéibóhmá ‘on the water’; θwâhnáindé ‘(he) can go’; cêizû cîhlàbí ‘thanks very much’. I have no examples of /hŋ/ following close juncture.

After atonic syllables the same replacements occur but seem not to be fixed:

tacaɁ ~ tajaɁ ‘1 rupee’; takhùgù ‘one by one’

30. Colon represents suspensive intonation. This is extremely variable. The syllable before the colon is spoken with greatly increased length and on an undulating tone curve under which the four tones lose their special characteristics.


nâ tháumbá: ‘listen…’
šiðalâ: couɁ maθibû ‘is there…? I don’t know.’
lâmbyà: badúlê ‘a guide…? Who?’
tajaɁ: khwê ‘1 rupee … and a half’


31. Since, as we have seen, the language consists of syllables of very uniform structure, the syllable stands out rather sharply in syntax and derivation.

32. The nouns and verbs, which are the minimal free forms of the language (its words), are preponderantly monosyllabic: ‘person’; ‘come’. Some nouns and verbs of more than one syllable are unanalyzable: yauccâ ‘man’; mêimmà ‘woman’; sînzâ ‘think’; côuzâ ‘exert oneself’. In part, nouns of more than one syllable have foreign flavor: ɁîŋgaleiɁ ‘English’; θîmbô ‘steamer’; θamouddayá ‘ocean’. Most nouns and verbs of more than one syllable are clearly analyzable in several types: noun or verb with particle: díhmá ‘here’ (83); θwâdé ‘goes’ (36); nouns derived from verbs with proclitic: ɁalouɁ ‘work’ (150); talwê ‘wrong’ (151); with enclitic: louttá ‘work’ (152); nouns formed by doubling, with or without proclitic or rhyming syllables: kâuŋgâun ‘good’ (164), mapyèi tabyèi ‘not quite full’ (170), kànlàn ‘across’ (168), ní tídí ‘reddish’ (169). Particles, proclitics, enclitics, and rhyming syllables are bound forms.

33. The foregoing will be illustrated and discussed in the following pages. Chapter 3 treats sentence types and final, interrogative, and negative particles (3449, 77); subordinate clauses and subordinating particles (5060); general particles (6176); parataxis (78). Chapter 4 treats verb expressions (79120); subordinate verb expressions (81); noun expression attributes (8286); secondary verb particles (87108); auxiliary verbs (109120). Chapter 5 treats noun expressions (121148); noun expression attributes (124128); verb expression attributes (129130); interrogative nouns (131); numerals (132140); classifiers (141148). Chapter 6 treats derivation (149178); by proclisis (150151); by enclisis (152162); doubled verbs (163171); doubled nouns (172178).


34. The major sentences of Burmese fall into three types. These will be called narrative, imperative, and equational. All three types have special negative forms. Narrative and equational sentences, both affirmative and negative, have special interrogative forms. The various types will be illustrated as follows: narrative statements (36–40); imperative (41); equational statements (42); interrogative (43–45); negative (46–49).

35. In the three types of sentence there occur particles which fall into five classes. Three of these classes will appear in our discussion as follows: final particles (36–40); interrogative particles (43–35); negative particles (46–49). The other two classes will be illustrated as follows: subordinating particles (50–60); general particles (61–76). As in the case of all particles, the juncture is close between these particles and the forms to which they are attached.

Narrative Statements, 36–40

36. A narrative statement consists of a verb expression (79) which has as its final particle one of the group ‑té, ‑yè, ‑kè, ‑mé, ‑pí. For ‑léi see 72.

37. The final particle ‑té following a verb makes a statement without reference to time, which may be present or past:

θwâdé ‘goes, went’; pyándé ‘returns, returned’; pyán θwâdé ‘goes, went back’; nèidâin nèidâin ŋânáyí Ɂachéin Ɂéiŋgóu pyán θwâdé ‘(he) goes home every day at five o’clock’; mahnikkà yáŋgóun myòugà mândalêi myòugòu θîmbônè khayî θwâdé ‘last year (he) made a trip from Rangoon to Mandalay by steamer’.

38. ‑yè and ‑kè are variants of -té. They are more literary; in normal speech they occur only in a limited number of phrases:

mábáyè ‘(I) am well’; pyóbáyè ‘(I) am happy’; houkkè ‘(it) is so’. The forms mábádé, pyóbádé, houtté also occur.

39. The final particle ‑mé refere to future time:

θwâmé ‘(he) will go’; manepphán θwâmé ‘(he) will go tomorrow’.

40. The final particle ‑pí indicates that the action or condition denoted by the verb to which it is attached has already begun:

θwâbí ‘(he) has gone’; yauppí ‘(he) has arrived’; yauthlùbí ‘(he) will soon arrive; (he) is on the point of arriving’; lá néibí ‘(he) is (already) coming’.

Imperative Sentences, 41

41. The imperative sentence consists of a verb expression without final particle (36):

θwâ ‘go’; Ɂéiŋgóu pyán θwâ ‘go back home’; θwâbayàzéi ‘let me go’, θwâbázéi ‘let him go’; θwâjàbázéi ‘let them go’; θwâjàzòu ‘let us go’.

Equational Sentences, 42

42. The equational sentence consists of two noun expressions which are equated. Often, especially when the sentence is long, the two expressions are separated by comma pause (26):

θú zagabyán ‘he (is an) interpreter’; tóðalîn làgà nadó là Ɂathi (,) shâun Ɂùdù ‘from the month of tóðalîn to the month of nadó (is) the cold season’; hóu lúhá (,) lúgâumbê ‘that person (is) a good person (emphatic)’.

Interrogative Sentences, 43–45

43. Narrative and equational sentences have special interrogative forms. These forms consist of a narrative or equational statement followed by one of the interrogative particles ‑lâ, or ‑lê.

44. In narrative questions before ‑lâ or ‑lê the final particle ‑té is replaced by ‑θa‑; ‑mé and ‑pí are replaced by the atonic forms ‑ma- and ‑pa‑; ‑yè and ‑kè remain unchanged:

θwâdé ‘(he) went’: θwâðalâ ‘did (he) go?’: bégóu θwâðalê ‘where did (he) go?’; θwâmé ‘(he) will go’: θwâmalâ ‘will (he) go?’: bédò θwâmalê ‘when will (he) go?’; θwâbí ‘(he) has gone’: θwâbalâ ‘has (he) gone?’; nâ léyèlâ ‘do (you) understand?’; houkkèlâ ‘is (it) so?’

45. In equational questions ‑lâ or ‑lê is added to the equational statement:

θú zagabyán ‘he (is an) interpreter’: θú zagabyánlâ ‘(is) he (an) interpreter?’: zagabyán béhmálê ‘where (is there an) interpreter?’; tóðalîn làgà nadó là Ɂathí (,) shâun Ɂùdùlâ ‘(is it) the cold season from the month of tóðalîn to the month of nadó?’

Negative Sentences, 46–49

46. A negative narrative statement consists of a narrative statement in which the negative particle ma- is prefixed to the head verb (80), less often to a subordinate verb (81)[3] in a verb phrase (79), and the final particle (36) is replaced by the negative final particle ‑phû:

θwâdé, θwâmé, θwâbí ‘(he) goes, went, will go; has gone’: maθwâbû ‘(he) does not go, did not go, will not go, has not gone’; myîn sî θwâdé ‘(he) went riding a horse’: myîn masî θwábû[4] ‘(he) went not riding a horse’.

47. A negative imperative sentence consists of an imperative sentence in which the negative particle ma- is prefixed to the head verb (80), less often to a subordinate verb (81)[5] in a verb phrase (79), and the negative final particle ‑nè is added at the end:

θwâ ‘go’: maθwânè ‘do not go’; myîn sî θwâ ‘go riding a horse’; myîn sî maθwânè: myîn masî θwânè[6] ‘do not go riding a horse’.

48. A negative equational sentence consists of an equational statement plus mahoupphû ‘it is not so’. This type of sentence may be considered a negative narrative sentence, since houtté is itself a verb expression (79, 36):

θú zagabyán mahoupphû ‘he is not an interpreter’; hóu lúhá (,) lugâun mahoupphû ‘that person is not good’.

49. A negative question consists of a negative narrative sentence or of a negative equational sentence plus interrogative particle ‑lâ or ‑lê (43):

maθwâbû ‘(he) did not go’: maθwâbûlâ ‘did (he) not go?’; θú zagabyán mahoupphûlâ ‘is he not an interpreter?’

Before the interrogative particle ‑lê, the negative final particle ‑phû (46) is replaced by ‑θa- (cf. 44):

bégóumà maθwâbû ‘(he) didn’t go anywhere’: bégóumà maθwáðalê ‘didn’t (he) go anywhere?’

Subordinating Particles, 50–60

50. Verb expressions (79) are marked as subordinate clauses by the substitution of subordinating particles for final particles (36). Subordinate clauses precede the head verb expression (80) and are separated from it by comma pause (26) after the subordinating particle.

51. ‑Ɂáun. Denotes purpose, goal:

khímbyâ nâ lédé ‘you understand’: khímbyâ nâ léɁáun, pyô pyàmé ‘(I) will explain so that you understand’; dìdeɁ myánɁáun, makhouthnáimbûlâ ‘can’t (trains) go faster than this?’

52. ‑hmà. Denotes prior completion:

tayeɁ hnayellauɁ nâ néi pîhmà, takhá sheɁ θwâmé ‘when (we) have finished staying a day or two, (we) shall go on’.

53. ‑lòu. Denotes cause:

θaji Ɂéimhmá keissà šîlòu, khanà θwâ zagâ pyô néidé ‘because of business at the headman’s house, (I) am going (there) for a moment and talk’.

54. ‑péidè. Denotes concession:

dí myòuhmá θaŋéjîn tayaummà mašibû. mašìbéidè couɁ dìlauɁ mapyîmbû ‘(I) do not have a single friend in this city. Although (I) do not, I am not bored to that extent’.

55. ‑péimè. Denotes future concession:

caθiɁ šìðalâ ‘are there leopards?’ šìdé: šibéimè, youttayeɁ myéijîbóhmá matwèihnáimbû ‘there are, even so (you) will not be able to find them right away on the ground’; ywá mašìbéimè, táunðúmyâgóu twèihnáimbádé ‘although there are no villages, you will be able to find farmers’; θùgóu câun thayàbéimè, bámà cêizû mašìbû ‘although he is put in school, there will be no advantage’.

56. ‑tò. Denotes time when:

Ɂawukkóu lê pîdò, cousshígóu lábá ‘when you have changed clothes, come to me’; lámmadógóu pathamà θwâ pîdò, zêigòu lánchâ sî θwâhnáindé ‘when (you) have first gone to Lanmadaw (Station), (you) can take a rickshaw to the market’.

57. ‑yín. Denotes condition, prior completion:

yéi teyyín, sàun néibá ‘if the water is up, wait’; dílóu shóuyín, bèné loummalê ‘if that is the case, how shall I act?’; bólôumbwê pîyín, khímbyâgóu couɁ béhmá twèihnáimmalê ‘when the ball game is over, where will I be able to find you?’

58. ‑yínlê. Denotes condition:

naukkóu pyán cì pî, θwâmé, shóuyínlê, póu kâunlèimmé ‘(it) will probably be better if (you) go along looking back’; šìyínlê, šìlèimmé ‘maybe there is (if there is, there probably is)’.

59. ‑yîn. Denotes simultaneous occurrence:

θadînzá phayyîn, shêileikkóulê θautté ‘while (I) was reading the newspaper (I) also smoked a cigar’.

60. Zero is substituted for the final particle ‑pí (40) in case of concomitant action:

lân šauɁ pîbí ‘(he) has walked’: lân šauɁ pî, châuŋgóu phyaɁ θwâhnáinðalâ ‘can (one) cross the stream walking?’; naukkóu pyán cì pî, θwâ néidé ‘(he) was going along looking back’.

General Particles, 61–76

61. General particles differ from noun particles (82) in that when both are present the general particle comes last, and in that general particles do not indicate fundamental syntactic relations of noun expression to verb expression. They differ in the same way from final particles (36), but here a more important difference inheres in the fact that the general particles do not mark obligatory categoric distinctions. Particles which are attached only to noun expressions are ‑há, ‑kô, ‑lóu, ‑mà, ‑pá, ‑phê, ‑theɁ, -tò, ‑yé; those which are attached only to verb expressions are ‑léi, ‑nó; those which are attached to both noun expressions and and verb expressions are ‑lòu, ‑tè, ‑θá. As in the case of all particles the juncture between general particles and the form to which they are attached is close.

62. ‑há emphasizes. In equational sentences it often appears after the first member, never after the second:

dí lúhá (,) lúgâumbê ‘this person (is a) good person (emphatic)’; hóu chéiyáhá, bá chéiyá thínðalê ‘what (sort of) footprint do you think that footprint (is)?’; hóuhá shìn chéiyábê ‘that is an elephant track’; hóuhálê, cà chéiyábê ‘that also (is a) tiger track’.

63. ‑kô ‘what of, how about’. Appears only in questions:

dí lúgô, bènélê ‘what of this person, how about (him)?’; θâ Ɂalakkô bá louɁ néiðalê ‘what about the second oldest son—what does he do?’

64. ‑lê ‘also’:

θúlê θwâdé ‘he also went’; khímbyâlê Ɂéiŋgóu tèdè θwâbá ‘you too go straight home’.

64.1. ‑lê … ‑lê ‘both … and’:

tachòulê táunyá ɁalouɁ louɁ sâdé, tachòulê lé louɁ sâdé, tachòu lúmyâlê Ɂûyín šìdé ‘some work as farmers; some work the rice fields; some people have orchards’.

65. ‑lóu ‘fashion, manner’:

dílóu louppá ‘do (it) this way’; couɁ pyôðalóu loutté ‘(he) did as I said’.

66. ‑mà ‘(not) even’: Appears only in negative sentences, emphasizing the negation of the noun expression:

bámà mawéjímbû ‘(I) do not want to buy anything’; bégóumà maθwânè ‘do not go anywhere’; couɁ Ɂapyín tayaummà mašìbû ‘there is nobody besides me’.

67. ‑pá indicates politeness (cf. 92):

khímbyà námé badúlê ‘what (is) your name?’: máun sán thûmbá ‘Mr. San Htun’.

68. ‑phê emphasizes; unlike ‑há (62), it is not limited to noun expressions that are in any one position:

dílóubê θwâjàzòu ‘let us go this way (and no other)’; θúdòu nauphmábê laiʔ lálèimmé ‘they will probably come following behind (and no place else)’; dájàun tôdêhmábê néiyàdé ‘for that reason (they) have to live right in the jungle’; hóulúhá (,) lúgâumbê ‘that person (is a) good person (emphatic)’.

69. -theʔ ‘more than, above’. This is added to a noun expression denoting that to which something is compared:

dideʔ myánʔáun, makhouthnáimbûlâ, ‘can’t (trains) go faster than this?’; myîndeʔ khwêi ŋédé ‘a dog is smaller than a horse’.

70. -tò ‘as for, concerning’. Marks a noun expression as the topic of the sentence:

θú ʔacâundò mapyôbánè ‘as for him—don’t talk’; θwâzayádò mašibábû ‘as for having to go, (I) don’t; bédò lóujínðalê ‘when do (you) want it)?’

71. -yé. This is often added to each member of an enumeration, and often to a noun used in address:

badúnè badú θwâðalê. máun phyúyé, máun mêyé… ‘who went? Mr. Black, Mr. White…’.

72. -léi ‘of course’. Emphasizes assertions and commands:

kâunðalâ ‘is (it) good?’: kâundéléi or kâunðaléi ‘(of course it) is good’; θwâjínyín, θwâléi ‘if (you) want to go, go (ahead)’.

This particle is common in aphoristic statements, where it replaces the final particle (36):

ŋwéi šádé ‘looks for money’: khetté ‘is difficult’: ŋwéi šáléi, khelléi ‘the more you look for money, the more difficult (it is)’.

73. -nó expects acquiescence. Infrequent:

θwâdòmé ‘(I) will have to be going, i.e. goodbye’; θwâdònó ‘go (then), i.e. goodbye [to person leaving]’.

74. -lòu marks what precedes as a quotation of another’s speech or of one’s own opinion. If no verb expression follows, this particle often marks what precedes as intended:

lámélòu pyôdé ‘(he) said (he) would come’; ywá šìdélòu mathímbû ‘(I) do not think there is a village’; dí θauyyéihá makâumbûlòu thíndé ‘(I) think this drinking water is not good’; hóu chéiyáhá, bá chéiyálòu thínðalê ‘what (sort of) footprint do you think that footprint (is)?’

bé θwâmalòulê ‘where (is it your intention to) go?’: ʔéiŋgóu θwâmalòu ‘(I intend to) go home’.

75. -tè marks what precedes as a quotation, but differs from -lòu (74) in that it is not followed by a verb expression:

lámédè ‘(he said he) would come’; sabwêdè ‘(he said the word) table’.

76. -θá ‘only’:

myòujîhmáðá hóté šìdé ‘there are hotels only in big cities’; θwâðá θwâbá ‘just go (don’t hold back)’.

Minor Sentences, 77

77. A sentence which does not consist of a verb expression or of two noun expressions equated (34 ff.) is a minor sentence:

díhmá ‘here’, cf. díhmá šìdé ‘here (it) is’; bálê, ‘what?,’ cf. bá pyôðalê ‘what did (you) say?’

Parataxis, 78

78. Paratactic constructions consist of two major sentences (34 ff.), or of a major sentence and a minor sentence (77), separated by comma pause. They differ from a succession of two sentences in that when an interrogative particle (43) is present, it comes at the end of the entire paratactic sentence:

θú náimmé, thínðalá ‘do (you) think he will win?’; badú náimmé, thínðalê ‘who do (you) think will win?’; cf. θú náimmalâ ‘will he win?’; badú náimmallê ‘who will win?’


79. A verb, or a phrase with a verb head, or a coordinative phrase with verb expressions as members is a verb expression. A phrase which is a verb expression is a verb phrase.

80. In a verb phrase the head verb has one or more attributes of the following types: subordinate verb expression (81); noun expression (82); secondary verb particle (87); auxiliary verb (109).

Subordinate Verb Expressions, 81

81. A subordinate verb expression precedes the verb head. The juncture is space between a subordinate verb expression and a following verb:

θwâdé ‘(he) goes’: pyándé ‘(he) returns’: pyán θwâdé ‘(he) goes back’; néidé ‘(he) remains, continues’: pyán θwâ néidé ‘(he) is going back’.

Noun Expression Attributes, 82–86

82. A noun expression attribute consists of a noun expression followed by one of the four noun particles ‑hmá, ‑kà, ‑kóu, ‑nè, or of a noun expression alone (zero particle), preceding a verb head in open juncture.

83. ‑hmá denotes place or time at which:

díhmá tháimbá ‘sit here’; díhmá mîyathá lábì: hóuhmá dayyathâ lá néidé ‘the train has already come here; over there the street car is coming’; béhmá θwâ sâmalê ‘where will you to to eat’; bamá lúmyôu phyáhmá tháindé ‘Burmans sit on mats’; tôywáhmá mayàhnáimbû ‘(it) can not be got in country villages’; Ɂapódaphmá líndé ‘up stairs (it) is light’; tèdèhmá šìdé ‘(it) is situated straight ahead’; nwéi Ɂùdùhmá Ɂêilèimmé ‘(it) will probably be cool in the hot season’; couɁ shíhmá shappyá mašibû ‘I haven’t any soap’ (cf. shappyá mašibû, ‘there isn’t any soap’); couɁ shíhmá paisshán malóunlaupphû ‘I do not have enough money’.

84. ‑kà denotes source or agency, past time:

couttòu dígà bégóumà maθwâbábû ‘we won’t go anywhere from here’; coukkà shóuyín, θú checchîn hŋâbálèimmé ‘if it is said (as coming) from me, he will probably lend (it to you) immediately’; khawwêiwêigà šáun θwâ ‘go avoiding (it) at a fair distance’; myîmbwêgà ŋwéi náin ládé ‘(he) came having won money at the races’; yauttè ywágè sâgèmé ‘(I) will eat in the village to which I come’; tayaukkà shè kôuhniɁ, tayaukkà hnashéjó šìbábí ‘one (of them) is nineteen; one is over twenty’; lúdâingàbê pyôjàdé ‘everybody says (so)’; Ɂacîgà bá louɁ sâðalê ‘what does the big one do for a living?’ (the context refers to the son of one of the speakers); Ɂayíŋgà bamá pyéihmá néidé ‘formerly (I) lived in Burma’; ɁayíŋgàdeɁ póu wàdé ‘(he) is fatter than formerly’; hóudôuŋgàdò ɁalouɁ myâdé ‘at that time (I) was busy’; θú manèi-nyàgà θwâzayâ šìdélòu coukkóu pyôdé ‘he told me that he had to go last night’; khùdíŋgàbê pyán θwâdé ‘he went back just now’; lúŋgêdè θôunlàlaukkà dí ywánâgè θwâdá myíndé ‘about three months ago (I) saw (them) going from the neighborhood of this village'.

85. ‑kóu denotes place or time to which, receiver of action, material:

yáŋgóun myòugóu θwâðé ‘(he) went to Rangoon’; dígóu lágèbá ‘come here’; Ɂathêgóu wímbá ‘go inside’; tanîŋganwéi nèigóu Ɂaθìn kìmé ‘(it) will be ready Sunday’; léináyîgóu pyán lábá ‘come back at four o’clock’; khîmbyâ naukkóu couɁ malaicchímbû ‘I do not want to follow you’; mî mapábê nyàgóu lân mašauwwùmbû ‘(I) do not dare to walk at night without a light’; manekkóu káphí takhwennè ceɁɁù hnalôun pyouɁ pêibá ‘in the morning prepare two boiled eggs and a cup of coffee’; sâzayámyâgóu Ɂalóu mašìbû, ‘(we) have no need of food’; khawwêiwêihmá mîgóu thweɁ néidágóu myínyàdé ‘(I) see smoke issuing in the distance’; lóunjígóu bamá lúmyôudòu wutté ‘Burmans wear skirts’; dóubígóu θwâ pêibá ‘go and give (it) to the launderer’; Ɂawukkóu dóubí pêijíndé ‘(I) want to give clothes to the launderer’; šwéi Ɂasikkóu louɁ thâyàdè ɁatweɁ tayágà, šò mayâunhnáimbû ‘because it is made of real gold (I) cannot sell (it) for less than a hundred’; θùgóu mêi cìbá ‘ask him and see’ (note change of tone: cf. θú mêi cìdé ‘he asked’).

86. ‑nè denotes accompaniment, instrumentality:

bá hînnè sâmalê ‘with what curry will (you) eat?’; θîmbônè θwâdé ‘(he) went by steamer’; dânè phyatté ‘(he) cut (it) with a knife’; dí nyà ɁatweɁ dánèbê tóbábí ‘for tonight that will be enough indeed’; θadìnè θwâ ‘go with care’; takhá taléi kán kâunyín, ŋwéi šálòu lwélwénè yàdatté ‘sometimes if (your) luck is good, (you) can find money with ease’; counnè Ɂatú laikkhèbá ‘come along with me’; khámbyânè badú badú laiθθalê ‘who went with you?’; lephmaɁ tazáunnè tazáun Ɂayáunjîn matúbû ‘the color of the tickets is not the same’; myòunè bélauɁ wêiðêiðalê ‘how far is the city still?’ (cf. myòu bélauɁ wêiðêiðalê); shin Ɂayínnè shín Ɂayâiŋgóu bèné louɁ θìhnáimmalê ‘how will we be able to tell tame elephants from wild ones?’; myéibóundêhmá bé ywánè nîlèimmé, thínðalê ‘according to the map what village is near, do (you) think?’; Ɂánándá phayânè θappyínnyú phayâgóu wín phûjìnðêidé ‘(I) want still to go in and view the Ananda and That-pyinnyu Pagodas’; dí ywágà ywá θajîhá, counnè Ɂimmatán khíndè θaŋéjîmbê ‘the headman of this village is a very dear friend of mine’.

Secondary Verb Particles, 87–108

87. Secondary verb particles follow the verb head. They fall into three groups: those which occur in both narrative and imperative sentences (8893); those which occur only in narrative sentences (94103); those which occur only in imperative sentences (104108). Juncture is close preceding the secondary verb particle, and in a narrative sentence between the secondary particle and a following final particle (36).

88. ‑cà denotes plurality:

májàyèlâ ‘how are (you, they)?'; májàbáyè ‘(we, they) are well’; khímbyâdòu Ɂakóunlôun nâ léjàðalâ ‘do you all understand?’; couttòu Ɂakóunlôun nâ léjàdé ‘we all understand’; θwâjàbá ‘go’; θwâjàzòu ‘let us go’.

89. ‑khè denotes different place or time:

khímbyâdòu Ɂakhù maneɁ bé ywágà manessá sâgèðalê ‘at which village did you eat breakfast this morning?’; ywàdêgà masâgèbû ‘(we) did not eat in a village’; couɁ Ɂakhâmhmá mèi néigèdé ‘I forgot and left (it) in my room’; manepphámhmábê lagèmé ‘(I) will come tomorrow for sure’; dígóu lágèbá ‘come here’.

90. ‑laiɁ denotes action away from the situation; definitive action:

siθθâbâun bélauɁ myâdá myínlaiθθalê ‘how many soldiers altogether did you see?'; Ɂakhù lánchâgóu khólaippá ‘now call a rickshaw’; jápân lúmyôu tamyôulôun Ɂamyôu phyouɁ phyellaimmê ‘the entire Japanese race will be completely destroyed’.

91. ‑Ɂôun denotes continuance, repetition, further action:

θwâɁôumménó ‘(I) am going to go, i.e. goodbye’; couɁ θùgóu sàunɁôummé ‘(I) shall continue to wait for him’; dájàun θaŋéjîmmyâgóu θwâ, mêi cìɁôummé ‘for that reason I’ll go and ask some of my friends and see’; šìyínlê, šìjàlèinɁôummé ‘(I think) they might possibly still be (here)’; shé maniɁ nâbáɁôun ‘rest for ten minutes’; khaná nâjàɁôunzòu ‘let us rest for a moment’; pyán pyôbáɁôun ‘please repeat’; thamîn yú lábáɁôun ‘bring more rice’; maθwânèɁôun ‘don’t go yet’ (note that ‑Ɂôun in a negative command follows the negative final particle 47).

92. ‑pá denotes politeness:

θwâbá ‘go’, cf. θwâ (41); pyóyèlâ ‘are (you) happy?’: pyóbáyè ‘(I) am happy’: dílóu Ɂímmatán kâumbálèimmé ‘this way (it) will be very good’; bámà maphyippázéinè ‘don’t let anything happen’.

92.1 In first-person commands and in third-person commands with -léi (72), ‑pá is replaced by atonic ‑pa‑:

Ɂeiŋgóu θwâbayàzéi ‘let me go home’: ta-nyàlauɁ têbayàzéi ‘let me stay for a night or so’; θwâbaléizéi ‘let him go’.

92.2. Before the final particle ‑mé (39), ‑pá is sometimes replaced by ‑pà (tone III):

lóunlauppàmalâ ‘will (it) be sufficient?’; lóunlauppàmé ‘(it) will be sufficient’.

93. ‑tò denotes necessity, permission:

θwâdòmé ‘(I) must be going, i.e. goodbye’; θwâdò or θwâdònó ‘go, i.e. goodbye [to one leaving]’; šìðêiðalâ ‘are (there) still (some)?’: mašìdòbû ‘(there) are not of necessity’.

Narrative, 94–103

94. ‑chín denotes desire:

bá lóujínðalê ‘what do (you) want?’; bámà malóujímbû ‘(I) don’t want anything‘; θwâjíndé ‘(I) want to go’; maθwâjímbû ‘(I) don’t want to go’.

95. ‑hlà denotes excess. Infrequent:

cêizû cîhlàbí ’thanks very much‘; dí myòuhmá néilòu pyóðalâ ‘are (you) happy living in this city?’: té mapyóhlàbábû ‘(I) am not very happy’; coullê khímbyâdòugóu twèijíndá cáhlàbí ‘(it) has been a very long time that I have wanted to see you too’.

96. ‑hnáin denotes ability:

θwâhnáinðalâ ‘can (you) go?’; maθwâhnáimbû ‘(I) can not go’; dìdeɁ zêi mašòhnáimbûlâ ‘can’t (you) make the price less than this?’; mašòhnáimbû ‘(I) can’t make (it) less’; bé Ɂakhámashóu couɁ Ɂéiŋgóu wínhnáin thwethnáimbádé ‘at any time at all (you) can enter or leave my house’.

97. ‑lèin denotes probability. This particle is used only in conjunction with the final particle ‑mé (39):

θwâlèimmé ‘(he) will probably go’; môu ywálèimmé, thínðalâ ‘do (you) think it will rain?’; môu ywálèimmé, mathímbû ‘(I) don’t think it will rain’; dílóu Ɂímmatán káumbálèimmé ‘this way (it) will probably be very good’.

98. ‑hlù denotes imminence. Very infrequent:

yauthlùbí ‘(he) is just about to arrive’.

99. ‑mì denotes inadvertence:

pyômìdé ‘(he) misspoke inadvertently’; maθìlòu pyômìdé ‘(he) inadvertently misspoke because (he) didn’t know’; ɁalouɁ šouɁ néidè ɁatweɁ pêimìbádé ‘because business is in a state of confusion, (I) gave (it to you) by mistake’.

100. ‑phû denotes past time:

myîn sîbûðalâ ‘have (you) ever ridden a horse?’; masîbûbû ‘(I) have never ridden’; maloupphûbû ‘(he) has never worked’; bélauɁ cájá néibûðalê ‘how long did (you) live (there) at that time?’; couɁ θùgóu takhá taléi twèibûdé ‘I used to see him sometimes’.

101. ‑θéi denotes further action:

ywá bélauɁ wêiðêiðalê ‘how far is the village still?’; θeiɁ mawêiðêibábû ‘(it) is not very far still’; lú lêi ŋâyauɁ lóuðêidé ‘four or five people are still missing'.

102. ‑wùn denotes daring:

tôdêgóu khímbyâ θwâwùnðalâ ‘do you dare go into the forest?’; tayautthê maθwâwùmbû ‘(I) don’t dare go alone’.

103. ‑yà denotes compulsion:

θwâyàdé ‘(he) had to go’; maθwâyàbû ‘(he) didn’t have to go’; pyán lágèyâdè ‘(he) had to come back’.

Imperative, 104–108

104. ‑lâ denotes urgent imperative. Infrequent:

dígóu lágèbálâ ‘come here!’; louppálâ ‘do (it)!’

105. ‑sân denotes polite urgency:

cìzân ‘look’: hmânzân ‘try (it)’; pyôzân ‘speak up’.

106. ‑séi marks first-person-singular and third-person commands:

θwâbayàzéi ‘let me go’; θwâbázéi ‘let him (them) go’; θwâjàbázéi ‘let them go’; θwâbaléizéi ‘let him (them) go’ (expecting compliance); maθwâbayàzéinè ‘let me not go’; maθwâbázéinè ‘let him (them) not go’.

107. ‑sòu marks first-person-plural commands:

θwâjàzòu ‘let us go’; Ɂeiŋgóu pyánjàzòu ‘let us return home’; thamîn θwâ sâjàbázòu ‘let us go eat’; maθwâzòuné ‘let us not go’.

108. ‑yàɁáun marks first-person-plural commands:

θwâ mêi cìyàɁáun ‘let us go ask and see’; couttòu θwâ cìyàɁáun ‘let us go and see’.

Auxiliary Verbs, 109–120

109. Auxiliary verbs function both as full verbs and as modifiers immediately following full verbs in close juncture. In negative sentences the negative particle ma- (46) is never attached to an auxiliary verb.

110. Ɂâdé ‘is free, disengaged, at leisure’:

khîmbyâ θwâɁáðalâ ‘are you free to go?’; maθwâɁâbû ‘(I) am not free to go'.

111. Ɂatté ‘is right, proper’:

pyôɁaθθalâ ‘is (it) right, proper to say?’, mapyôɁapphû ‘(it) is not proper to say’.

112. kâundé ‘is good’. This is infrequent:

maθwâgâumbû ‘(it) is not good to go’, cf. the more frequent θwâbòu makâumbû ‘(it) is not good to go’; θwâgâun θwâlèimmé ‘(he) may go’; houkkâun houllèimmé ‘(it) may be so’.

113. khêdé ‘is hard, difficult’:

Ɂímmatán twèigêdé ‘(they) are very difficult to find’.

114. lautté ‘is enough, sufficient’:

paisshán malóunlaupphû ‘money is not sufficient, i.e. ‘(I) don’t have enough money’; khímbyâ làgà sâlauθθalâ ‘is your salary sufficient to live on?’; masâlaupphû ‘(it) is not sufficient to live on’.

115. phyitté ‘happens, takes effect, is practicable’:

khímbyâlê lábyiɁɁáun, pyán lágèbá ‘you too actually come back’; malábyipphû ‘(he) did not actually come back’; maloupphyipphû ‘(he) did not actually do (it)’.

116. séidé ‘sends, causes to do’. This is infrequent:

pyôzéijíndé ‘(I) want to have (you) talk’; mapyôzéijímbû ‘(I) do not want to have (you) talk’; malousséijímbû ‘(I) do not want to have (him) do (it)’.

117. tatté ‘knows how, is customary, is the usual course’:

ɁîŋgaleiɁ zagâ pyôdaθθalâ ‘do (you) speak English?’: mapyôdapphû ‘(I) do not speak (it)’; mwéizôu lúgóu kaiyyín, lú θéidatté ‘if a poisonous snake bites a person, the person usually dies’; nyàgóu mwéi θeiɁ twèidatté ‘at night (one) can find lots of snakes’; shêileiɁ maθauttapphû ‘(I) do not smoke cigars’.

118. thaitté ‘is suitable, fit’:

dí mwéizôugóu θatthaiθθalâ ‘is it proper to kill these poisonous snakes?’; dâuŋgóu pyitthaiθθalâ ‘is it proper to shoot peacocks?’; mapyitthaipphû ‘it is not proper to shoot (them)’.

119. θindé ‘is suitable, proper, becoming’:

dílóu mapyôðìmbû ‘(it) is not becoming to speak this way’; maθwâðìmbû ‘(it) is not suitable to go’; yóunðìndé ‘(it) is to be believed’; mayóunðìmbû ‘(it) is not to be believed’.

120. yàdé ‘gets, obtains’; as auxiliary verb: ‘has the opportunity of’; cf. ‑yà (103):

nâ tháumbá: couɁ nâdêhmá θanaɁ pyiθθámmyâ câyàdé ‘listen … I heard the sounds of shots near here’; bébekkà câyàðalê ‘from which side did (you) hear (them)?’; couɁ macáyàbû ‘I did not hear (them)’.



121. A noun, or a phrase with a noun head, or a co-ordinative phrase with noun expressions as members, is a noun expression. A phrase which is a noun expression is a noun phrase.

122. Nouns are of four types: ordinary nouns, interrogative nouns (131), numerals (132140), classifiers (141148).

123. In a noun phrase the head noun or a noun member has one or more attributes of the following types: noun expression (124128), verb expression following (129), verb expression preceding (130).

124. A noun expression attribute is a noun expression which precedes the head noun. Juncture is close between the attribute and the head noun unless a particle intervenes (125128):

yéi ‘water’: káphí ‘coffee’: káphíyéi, ‘coffee (beverage)’; pyâ ‘bee’: pyâyéi ‘honey’; léimmóðî ‘orange (fruit)’: léimmóyéi ‘orange juice’; θámbayáðî ‘lemon (fruit)’: θámbayáyéi ‘lemon juice’; pôun ‘container’: yéibôun ‘bucket’; Ɂôu ‘jar’: yéiɁôu ‘water jar’; twîn ‘cave, hole’: yéidwîn ‘well’.

hîn ‘curry’: ŋâ ‘fish’: ŋâhîn ‘fish curry’; weɁ ‘pig’: Ɂaθâ ‘flesh’: weθθâ ‘pork’: weθθâhîn ‘pork curry’; ceθθâ ‘chicken (meat)’: ceθθâhîn ‘chicken curry’; Ɂaθî ‘fruit’: yweɁ ‘leaf’: hînðî hînyweɁ ‘vegetables’.

taiɁ ‘brick building’: ‘letter, writing’: sádaiɁ ‘post office’; Ɂasôuyà ‘government’: ɁasôuyàdaiɁ ‘government building’; Ɂéin ‘house’: taiɁɁéin ‘brick house’.

tòu ‘plurality’: couɁ ‘I’: couttòu ‘we’; khímbyâ ‘you’: khímbyâdòu ‘you (pl.)’; θú ‘he, she, it’: θúdòu ‘they’; ‘person’: lúmyâ ‘people’ cf. 129: lúmyâdòu ‘people (in general)’; siθθâ ‘soldier’: siθθâdòu ‘soldiers’.

125. Certain noun expression attributes, which consist of a syllable in tone I or II, change to tone III before the head noun:

θú zagabyán ‘he (is an) interpreter’: θù nyí zagabyán ‘his younger brother (is an) interpreter’; khímbyâ badúlê ‘who (are) you?’: khímbyà θaŋéjîn badúlê ‘who (is) your friend?’; sháin ‘shop’: šín ‘master’: shàin šín ‘storekeeper’; Ɂeín ‘house’: Ɂèin šín ‘householder’.

Quite often, however, the tone remains unchanged: Ɂéinšín occurs beside Ɂèin šín, sháinšín beside shàin šín, with no difference of meaning.

126. Noun expression attributes formed from verb expressions by means of the enclitic particles ‑tè (134) or ‑mè (155) precede the head noun with open juncture:

lú kâundé ‘the person is good’: kâundè lú ‘good person’, cf. lúgâun (129); shôudé ‘is bad’: shôudè lú ‘evil person’, cf. luzôu (129); mêimmà hóuhmá yaɁ néidé ‘a woman is standing there’: hóuhmá yaɁ néidè mêimmà ‘the woman who is standing there’; lú manepphán yaummé ‘a person will arrive tomorrow’: manepphân yauttè lú ‘the person who arrives tomorrow’, cf. next paragraph; hóu lúhá bamá mahoupphû ‘that person is not Burmese’: bamá mahouttè lú ‘a person who is not Burmese’.

Noun expression attributes in ‑mè are very infrequent:

ywágóu θwâmé ‘(they) will go to the village’: θwâmè ywágóu ‘the village to which (they) will go’.

127. Noun expression attributes formed from verb expressions by means the enclitic particle ‑phòu (157) precede the head noun with open juncture:

θaupphòu yéi ‘water for drinking’, cf. θauyyéi, (130); taipphòu cwê ‘buffalo for fighting’; pyáimbòu myîn ‘race horse’; θwâbòu lân ‘road for going’.

128. Noun expression attributes plus ‑kà (84) or ‑nè (86) precede the head noun with open juncture:

dí ywágà θajîhá, counnè Ɂímmatán khíndè θaŋéjîmbê ‘the headman of this village is a very dear friend of mine’; dí châundêgá yéihá, yéi nautté ‘the water of this stream is dirty’; hóubekkâŋgà ywá, bá ywá khóðalê ‘what is the village on that bank called?’; lêinè lêi bélaullê ‘how much is four and four?’; shabín hnyattánè moussheiɁ yeikkhà, bélaullê ‘what is the charge for a haircut and shave?’

129. Certain verb expression attributes follow the head noun. The juncture is close:

khêdé ‘is hard’: yéigê ‘ice’; chóudé ‘is sweet, not salt’: yéijóu ‘fresh water’; ŋándé ‘is salty’: yéiŋán ‘salt water’; sêindé ‘is raw, uncooked’: yéizêin ‘fresh water, i.e. unboiled water'.

lú kâunde ‘the person is good’: lúgâun ‘good person’, cf. kâundè lú (126); shôudé ‘is bad’: lúzôu ‘evil person’, cf. shôudè lú (126); pyîndé ‘is lazy, bored’: lúbyîn ‘Iazy person’; mádé ‘is well’: mamábû ‘is not well’: lúmamá ‘sick person, patient’.

130. Some verb expression attributes precede the head noun in close juncture. Attributes of this type are limited in occurrence. They occur only where a parallel phrase may be spoken in which the noun head is preceded by a noun attribute of the type in 127:

θauté ‘drinks’: θauyyéi ‘drinking water’, cf. θaupphòu yéi (127); θôundé ‘uses’: θôunyéi ‘general purpose water’; leɁ shêidé ‘washes hands’: leɁ shêiyéi ‘water for washing the hands’; yéi chôud´d ‘bathes’: chôuyéi ‘bath water’; taitté ‘fights’: ceɁ ‘chicken’: taicceɁ ‘game cock’; cwê ‘buffalo’: taiccwê ‘fighting buffalo’; pyáindé ‘competes’: myîn ‘horse’: pyáimmyîn ‘race horse’.

Interrogative Nouns, 131

131. The interrogative nouns ‘what’ and ‘which’, and noun expressions in which they appear, are accompanied in questions by the interrogative particle ‑lê (43):

bá lóujínðalê or bágóu lóujínðalê ‘what do (you) want?’; bá phyillòulê ‘why’; bájàunlê ‘why’; bá keissà šìlòu θajî Ɂéiŋgóu θwâðalê ‘because of what business did (you) go to the headman’s house?’; bámyâgóu wéjínðalê ‘what do (you) want to buy?’

béhmá néiðalê ‘where do (you) live?’; bégóu θwâðalê ‘where did (you) go?’; bégà láðalê ‘where did (you) come from?’; bélóu louθθalê ‘how is (it) done?’; bélauɁ càðalê ‘how much does (it) come to?’; bédò yaummalê ‘when will (he) arrive?’; bénâhmá šìðalê ‘in which neighborhood is it?’; bé pyéihmá néiðalê ‘in which country does (he) live?’; lê tabeiθθá khê tabeiθθá, bédîngà póu lêiðalê ‘which is heavier, a viss of cotton or a viss of lead?’; badú θwâðalê ‘who went?’ (spoken slowly this often appears as béðú θwâðalê).

Contrast between and appears in pairs like the following:

bá yánðúlê ‘what enemy?’; bé yánðúlê ‘which (of more than one) enemy?’

Numerals, 132–140

132. The cardinal numerals from 1 to 9 are as follows:

1 tiɁ (ta‑) 6 chauɁ
2 hniɁ (hna‑) 7 hhúnniɁ (khúnna‑)
3 θôun 8 šiɁ
4 lêi 9 kôu
5 ŋâ

In close juncture with a following classifier (141), tiɁ, hniɁ, and khúnniɁ are replaced by the atonic forms ta‑, hna‑, and khúnna‑.

133. The tens from 10 to 90 consist of shé preceded in close juncture by a digit.

10 tashé 60 chausshé
20 hnashé 70 khúnnashé
30 θôunzé 80 šisshé
40 lêizé 90 kôuzé
50 ŋâzé

134. The numerals from 11 to 99, except for the tens, consist of shè (tone III) preceded by a digit in close juncture and followed by a digit in open juncture. From 11 to 19 there occur also numerals which consist of shè (tone III) followed in open juncture by a digit.

11 tashè tiɁ or shè tiɁ 57 ŋâzè khúnniɁ or ŋâzè khún
12 tashè hniɁ or shè hniɁ 68 chausshè šiɁ
13 tashè θôun or shè θôun 79 khúnnashè kôu
24 hnashè lêi 81 šisshè tiɁ
35 θôunzè ŋâ 92 kôuzè hniɁ
46 lêizè chauɁ

135. The hundreds consist of preceded in close juncture by a digit.

100 tayá
200 hnayá
300 θôunyá
400 lêiyá
500 ŋâyá

136. The numerals from 101 to 999, except for the hundreds, consist of (tone III) preceded by a digit in close juncture and followed by a number in open juncture.

101 tayà tiɁ
202 hnayà hniɁ
330 θôunyà θôunzé
555 ŋâyà ŋâzè ŋâ
678 chauyyà khúnnashè šiɁ

137. Variants of the numerals from 11 to 999 consist of shé or preceded by a digit in close juncture and followed by the noun particle ‑nè (86), and the whole expression followed by a number.

88  šisshénè šiɁ
101 tayánè tiɁ
330 θôunyánè θôunzé
678 chauyyánè khúnnashè šiɁ

138. The numerals from 1,000 to 9,999 consist of tháun used as follows:

1,000 tatháun
1,001 tatháun tiɁ; thàun tiɁ; tathánnè tiɁ
1,100 tatháun tayá; thàun tayá; tatháunnè tayá
1,101 tatháun tayà tiɁ; and as above
1,944 tatháun kôuyà lêizè lêi

139. From 10,000 on the numerals are formed as in 138, using as a basis the following list:

10,000 taθâun
100,000 taθêin
1,000,000 taθân
10,000,000 tagadéi

140. A special group of ordinal numerals consists of borrowings from Pali. Only the first three are in common use:

pathamdà ‘1st’; dùtìyà ‘2nd’; tatìyà ‘3rd’.

The ordinals from 4th to 10th are recited by the informant but not used in conversation. They are:

zadouttà ‘4th’; pyínsamà ‘5th’; shathamà ‘6th’; θattamà ‘7th’; Ɂathamà ‘8th’; nawamà ‘9th’; daθamà ‘10th’.

Classifiers, 141–148

141. Classifiers are nouns which occur immediately after numerals or bèhna- ‘how many’. Phrases which consist of a classifier preceded in close juncture by a numeral or bèhna- are classifier phrases. Classifier phrases often appear with a preceding noun expression attribute in open juncture; the noun expression attribute means that which is counted:

lú tayauɁ ‘1 person’.

There are three types of classifiers (142144).

142. A classifier phrase containing a classifier of type 1 can be preceded by various noun expression attributes:

lú tayauɁ ‘1 person’; mêimmà hnayauɁ ‘2 women’; hlàdè Ɂapyóu θôunyauɁ ‘3 pretty girls’; chauyyauɁ ‘6 (of them)’.

143. A classifier phrase containing a classifier of type 2 is preceded only by a noun expression whose head is the same word as the classifier:

Ɂéin taɁéin ‘1 house’; taiɁɁéinjî hnaɁéin ‘2 big brick houses’; ywá θôunywá ‘3 villages’; tôywágalêi lêiywá ‘4 little country villages’.

144. A classifier phrase whose classifier is of type 3 is never preceded by a noun expression attribute:

hnahniɁ ‘2 years’; θôunlà ‘3 months’; lêiyeɁ ‘4 days’; ŋâmaniɁ ‘5 minutes’.

145. Tens, hundreds, and so on, are not followed by a classifier. The numeral ten, tashé, occurs both with and without a classifier, but when it is used with a classifier it lacks the prefixed ta‑:

lú shéyauɁ ‘10 people’; lú tashé ‘10 people’; myîn lêizé ‘40 horses’; máin tayá ‘100 miles’; Ɂéin tatháun ŋâyá ‘1500 houses’.

146. Common classifiers of type 1 are the following:

chaɁ ‘flat things’: kózô hnachaɁ ‘2 carpets’; sekkú θôunjaɁ ‘3 sheets of paper’.

châun ‘long and slender things’: khêdán tachâun ‘1 pencil’; zûn chauccâun ‘half a dozen spoons’.

káun ‘animals’: myauɁ hnakáun ‘2 monkeys’; myîn θôuŋgáun ‘3 horses’.

khù ‘units’; often substitute for another classifier (148): myephmán takhù ‘1 pair of spectacles’; zagabóun takhù ‘1 story, fable’.

khûn ‘words, utterances’; zagâ takhûn ‘1 word, sentence, utterance’.

kwîn ‘circles, hoops’: lessuɁ hnakwîn ‘2 finger rings’; lekkauɁ θôungwîn ‘3 bracelets’.

leɁ ‘tools and weapons’: dâ taleɁ ‘1 knife’; θanaɁ taleɁ ‘1 gun’.

lôun ‘spherical or cubical things’: tittá talôun ‘1 box’; Ɂôu talôun ‘1 pot’.

‘sacred or immaterial things’: phôunjî hnapâ ‘2 priests’; ɁayeiɁ θôumbâ ‘3 intimations, warnings’.

pheɁ ‘one of a pair’: myessí tapheɁ ‘1 eye’; leɁ hnapheɁ ‘2 hands (of different individuals)’.

pín ‘trees, hairs, threads’: Ɂamwêi tapín ‘1 hair of the body’; kóukóu hnapín ‘2 cocoa trees’.

sáun ‘writings’: lephmaɁ θôunzáun ‘3 tickets’; ságalêi hnasáun ‘2 notes’.

sháun ‘buildings’: câun tasháun ‘1 monastery’; Ɂéin tasháun ‘1 house’.

shú ‘pagodas, images of the Buddha’: phayâ hnashú ‘2 pagodas’.

‘things ridden’: shín hnasî ‘2 riding elephants’; hlê hnasî ‘2 carts’.

sîn ‘ships, automobiles, cutting and piercing instruments’; θîmbô tazîn ‘1 ship’; mótókâ hnasîn ‘2 automobiles’; hmyâ chaussîn ‘6 arrows’.

sóun ‘pairs, complete assortments’: leɁ ɁeiɁ tazóun ‘1 pair of gloves’; ɁawuɁ hnasóun ‘2 suits of clothes’.

šîn ‘yokes of animals’: nwâ tašîn ‘1 yoke of bullocks’; cwê tašîn '1 yoke of buffalo’.

thê ‘articles of clothing’: chwêigán Ɂeinjí chautthé ‘6 undershirts’; bâumbí tathé ‘1 pair of pants’.

yán ‘pairs’: lekkauɁ tayán ‘1 pair of bracelets’; nadâun tayán ‘1 pair of earrings’.

yauɁ ‘human beings’: lú tayauɁ ‘1 person’; thamînjeɁ tayauɁ ‘1 cook’.

147. Some nouns appear both in ordinary noun use and as classifiers of type 1. They denote units of measure and the like:

shán tabeiθθá ‘1 viss of rice’; ɁayeɁ tabalîn ‘l bottle of whiskey’; lé bèhnaɁéikà ‘how many acres of paddy field’; zagâ hnamyôu ‘2 kinds of language’; billayeɁ tabwê ‘1 game of billiards’.

148. As indicated in the preceding paragraphs, type 1 classifiers determine classes of nouns with which the several classifiers are used. However, the selection of a classifier is not rigidly restricted.

In many expressions khù ‘unit’ occurs with nouns which are also counted by means of another classifier of type 1 or 2:

kalatháin talôun, kalatháin takhù ‘1 chair’; lephmaɁ tazáun, lephmaɁ takhù ‘1 ticket’.

Otherwise also, some nouns appear with more than one classifier of type 1:

mìbà hnayauɁ, mìbà hnapâ ‘2 parents’; shín hnakáun, shín hnasî, shín tašîn ‘2 elephants’.

In some cases nouns which are counted by means of type 2 classifiers are also counted by means of type 1 classifiers:

Ɂéin taɁéin, Ɂéin talôun, Ɂéin tasháun, Ɂéin takhù ‘1 house’; tô tadô, tô takhù ‘1 forest’.


149. Noun expressions are derived from verb expressions by means of proclitic atonic particles (150, 151), and enclitic particles (152162).

150. Proclitic Ɂa‑: loutté ‘(he) works’: ɁalouɁ ‘work’: ɁalouɁ loutté ‘(he) does as work’: Ɂaloukkóu θwâmé ‘(he) will go to work’; myâdé ‘is many’: Ɂamyâ ‘many’: cêizû Ɂamyâjî tímbádé ‘very many thanks’: tìdé ‘beats or plucks, as a musical instrument’: hmoutté ‘blows, plays a wind instrument’: Ɂatì ɁahmouɁ ‘music’; θôundé ‘uses’: Ɂaθôun ‘use’: Ɂaθôun macàbû ‘is not of use’.

151. Proclitic ta‑. This particle is not freely productive and occurs in a limited number of fairly common words. It is more frequent in doubled nouns (173):

lwêdé ‘errs, is wrong’: talwê loutté ‘(he) does (it) wrong’; chòudé ‘is defective, wanting. incomplete’: tachòu ‘some’: tachòu táunyá ɁalouɁ louɁ sâdé ‘some make their living as farmers’; sâundé ‘slants’: tazâun ‘slanting’: tazâun ɁeiɁ néidé ‘(he) is sleeping on his side’: šautté ‘passes lengthwise’: lân ‘road’: lân šautté ‘walks’: lân tašaullôun bá sháimmà matwèibû ‘(I) did not find a shop on the whole walk’.

Enclitic Particles, 152–162

152. Enclitic ‑tá:

myâdé ‘is many’: myâdá ‘many’: lúbâun bélauɁ myâdá myínlaiθθalê ‘how many men altogether did (you) see?’; loutté ‘works’: louttá ‘work’: couɁ louttá kâunðalâ ‘is what I did good?’; pyôdé ‘speaks’: pyôdá ‘speech, speaking’: pyôdágóu nâ léðalâ ‘did (you) understand what was said?’; myíndé ‘sees’: twèidé ‘finds, meets’: mamyímbûbû ‘never saw’: matwèibûbû ‘never met’: mamyímbû matwèibû dámyâgóulê mýinyà twèiyàdé ‘(you) have the opportunity of observing what (you) have never seen, too’.

153. Enclitic ‑hmá:

yautté ‘arrives’: yaummé ‘will arrive’: lúgóu doukkhà yauphmá sôuyéinyàdé ‘(the government) is concerned lest people get into trouble’; hmâmé ‘will err’: lân hmâhmá sôuyéindé ‘(he) is concerned about missing the road'.

154. Enclitic ‑té:

šidé ‘is present’: mašibû ‘is not present’: mathúyín, khímbyâ šìdé mašìdégóu bèné louɁ θìhnáimmalê ‘if (you) do not answer, how can (I) know whether you are present or not?’.

154.1. When a noun expression formed with the enclitic ‑té precedes a noun which it modifies (126), the enclitic changes to ‑tè (tone III):

hmándé ‘is correct’: hmándè Ɂaphyéigóu lóujíndé ‘(I) want the correct answer’; ɁasheiɁ mašìbû ‘there is no poison’: ɁasheiɁ rnašìdè mwéilê šìdé ‘there are also non-poisonous snakes’; lephmaɁ wédé ‘(he) buys tickets’: lephmaɁ wédè ɁapauɁ hóuhmá šìdé ‘the ticket window is over there’; šèigà myínyàdé ‘(you) have the opportunity of seeing (it) ahead’: šèigà myínyàdè tôhóubephmá ka-nyukkwîn myòu šìdé ‘Kanyutkwin City is on the other side of the forest (you) see ahead’; θwâdé ‘goes’: ládè ‘comes’: bé Ɂakhámashóu θwâdè ládè Ɂakhá θadìnè θwâbá ‘whenever (you) come or go, go with care’.

154.2. When a noun expression formed with the enclitic ‑té is followed by a modifying verb (129), or by one of the general particles (61), the ‑té is replaced by the atonic ‑θa- (cf. 44):

lóujínðalauɁ yàhnáimbádé ‘(you) can get as much as (you) want’; tathnaindé ‘(he) can (do it)’: tathnáinðalauɁ kú-nyí sàunšauppá ‘help as much as (you) can’; sádêmá yêidé ‘is written (in books) : sádêhmá yêiðalóu maθínjínðêibû ‘(I) do not want to learn (the language) as it is written (in books)’; khímbyâ nèidâin pyôðalóu θínjíndé ‘(I) want to learn your everyday speech’.

155. Enclitic ‑mé. This is very infrequent:

θwâdé ‘goes’: θwâmé ‘will go’: bé ɁachéinlauɁ Ɂakhù θwâmè ywágóu yaummalê ‘about what time will (we) get to the village to which (we) are now coming?’

156. Enclitic ‑sayá denotes necessity or purpose:

θwâzayá šìdé ‘it is necessary to go’; myauɁ θeiɁ θanâzayá kâundé ‘monkeys are much to be pitied’; sâzayámyá lóuðalá ‘is there need of food?’; sâzayá néizayá ɁatweɁ masôuyéimbánè ‘do not be concerned about food and lodging’; dí twêhmá tháinzayá néiyá mašibû ‘there is no place to sit in this car’; θimbônè θwâyín, Ɂímmatán pyózayá kâundé ‘it is very enjoyable to go by steamer’.

157. Enclitic ‑phòu denotes possibility or purpose:

bégóu θwâbòu kâunðalê ‘where is it good to go?’ ŋwéi šábòu θeiɁ khetté ‘it is very difficult to find money’; couɁ néibòu néiyá šá néidé ‘I am looking for a place to live’; lánchânè θwâbòu θeiɁ wêidé ‘it is too far to go by rickshaw’; dí yéigóu θaupphòu couɁ cautté ‘I am afraid to drink this water’; couɁ Ɂakhù θwâbòu lân hmâdé ‘I have missed the road I should now be going’; ywádêhmá têbòu zayammyâ šìbádé ‘there are rest houses for staying in the village’; dájàun khímbyâdòu tâin pyéigôu kú-nyí sàunšaupphòu couttòu Ɂaméiyìkán pyéigà ládé ‘that is the reason we came from America to help your country’.

158. Enclitic ‑tâin ‘every time’. This is infrequent:

bámashóu θúdòu twèidâin phyesshîdé ‘whenever they find anything they destroy (it)’; khwêi háundâin thâ chîmé, shóuyín, lú Ɂeipphòu Ɂachéin mašìbû ‘if you tie up a dog every time it barks, there is no time for people to sleep’.

159. Enclitic ‑tôun ‘time when’. This is infrequent:

bamá pyéihmá néidôuŋgà kalâ lúmyôu coukkóu pyôdé ‘when (I) lived in Burma, Indian people talked to me’.

160. Enclitic ‑yóun ‘just so much and no more’. This is infrequent:

myethná θipphòu leɁ shêibòu shóuyín, bènélê ‘how (would it be) if (we use this water) for washing (our) hands and faces?’ myethná θiyyóunlê leɁ shêiyóunnè, keissà mašìbû ‘never mind (what water it is) if it is just (a matter of) washing (your) hands and faces’.

161. Enclitic ‑khín. This is attached to negated verbs with the meaning ‘before’:

chaunnáyí mathôugín yauɁɁáun, láyín, θá kâunlèimmé ‘if (you) come so as to arrive before (it) strikes six o’clock, it will probably be better’; khúnnanáyí makhwêgín yauɁɁáun, pyán lágèbá ‘come back so as to arrive before seven-thirty o’clock’; macágín kâuŋgâun pyôdappálèimmé ‘before long (you) will probably be able to talk well’.

162. Enclitic ‑phê. This is attached to negated verbs with the meaning ‘without’:

mî mapábê tôdêgóu maθwânè ‘do not go into the forest without a light’; maθibênè mapyônè ‘do not speak without knowing’.

Doubled Verbs, 163–171

163. Doubled verbs are noun expressions which consist of two verb members. The verb members may be the same verb repeated (164), the parts of a dissyllabic verb repeated (165), a negated verb repeated (166), two different negated verbs (167), a verb first member followed by a rhyming syllable (168), a verb first member followed by rhyming syllables with initial t- t- (169), a negated verb first member followed by a verb with prefixed ta- (170). Doubled verbs are often preceded by kha? (171).

164. When the members of a doubled verb are the same verb repeated, the juncture is close:

kâundé ‘is good’: kâuŋgâun loutté ‘(he) works well’; hnêidé ‘is slow’: hnêihnêi pyôbá ‘speak slowly’; tândé ‘extends in a straight line’: tândân θwâ ‘go straight’; tódé ‘is sufficient’: tódó nyán kâundé ‘is fairly intelligent’; dá phyìn, khímbyâ θâðamîdwéi tódó cî kóumbí ‘that being the case, your children are almost grown up’; lwédé ‘is easy’: ŋwéi lwélwénè mayàhnáimbû ‘money can not be got with ease’; nêdé ‘is few, little’: nênê ŋédé ‘(he) is a little young (for that)’: couttòugóu thîn nênêlauɁ šá pêibá ‘look for a little firewood for us’; túdé ‘is the same’: túdúbê ‘just the same’; códé ‘is refined, genteel’: Ɂapyóu cójógalêimyâlê θeiɁ pódé ‘there are plenty of refined little girls too’; tèdè ‘is straight’: tèdé θwâbá ‘go straight ahead’: tèdèhmá šìdé ‘(it) is straight ahead’; toutté ‘is short and thick’: wàdé ‘is fat’: hlàdé ‘is pretty’: touttouɁ wàwà Ɂapyóuhlà ‘short, fat, pretty girl’.

165. When the members of a doubled verb are the parts of a dissyllabic verb repeated, each syllable is repeated in close juncture with open juncture between the resulting doublings:

θéijádé ‘is precise’: θéiðéi chájá mapyôhnaimbû ‘(I) can not say precisely’; thûzândé ‘is peculiar, strange’: thûdû shânzân loutté ‘(he) acts peculiar’.

166. When the members of a doubled verb are a negated verb the juncture is close:

cádé ‘is long (in time)’: macábû ‘is not long (in time)’: cájá manéihnáimbû ‘(I) can not stay long': θúlê couɁ Ɂéiŋgóu macámacá yautté ‘he also comes often to my house'.

167. When the members of a doubled verb are two different negated verbs, the juncture is close:

nîdé ‘is near’: wêidé ‘is far’: ywáné manîmawêihmá šîdé ‘(it) is not very far from the village’; ládé ‘comes’: chîndé ‘approaches’: khímbyâdòu malámachîn couttòu dígà bégóumà maθwâbâbû ‘until you come we will not go anywhere from here’.

168. When the members of a doubled verb are a verb followed by a rhyming syllable, the juncture is close:

kàndé ‘marks across’: kànlàn šìdé ‘it is situated across’. pháðá ‘of own accord’ is apparently a construction of this kind in which neither member occurs as a free form; pháðá néibázéi ‘leave (him) alone’.

169. When the members of a doubled verb are a verb first member followed by two rhyming syllables with initial t- t‑, the juncture is variable. Between the verb first member and the second syllable there is space juncture. Between the two rhyming syllables there may be open juncture, close juncture, or close juncture with loss of tone of the prior member:

nídé ‘is red’: ní tí tí or ní tídí ‘reddish’; sêindé ‘is green’: sêin têindêin or sêin tadêin ‘greenish’; nwêidé ‘is warm’: nwêi têidêi ‘warmish’.

170. When the members of a doubled verb are a negated verb first member followed by a verb with prefixed ta‑, the juncture is open. The first member, if tone I, changes to tone III:

pyèidé ‘is full’: mapyèi tabyèi ‘not quite full’; thìdé ‘touches’: mathì tadì ‘not quite touching’; hmídé ‘reaches’: mahmì tahmì ‘not quite reaching’.

The second member is different in mató tashà ‘by accident’ (perhaps this is from tózàdé ‘guesses, presumes’).

171. Doubled verbs are often preceded by khaɁ ‘rather, somewhat’. The juncture between khaɁ and what follows is close:

phyêibyêi θwâbá ‘go slowly’: khapphyêibyêi θwâbá ‘go rather slowly’; khaccîjî ‘rather big’; khayyòyò ‘rather slack’; khathlânhlân ‘not very far’; khawwêiwêi ‘rather far’.

Doubled Nouns, 172–178

172. Doubled nouns are noun expressions which consist of two noun members. The noun members may be the same noun repeated (173); the parts of a dissyllabic noun repeated (174); two different nouns (175); the same noun repeated with ta- prefixed to the first member (176); the same noun repeated, or two different nouns, with ta- prefixed to both parts (177).

173. When the members of a doubled noun are the same noun repeated, the juncture is close. When the noun members are derived nouns in Ɂa- (150) or ta- (151), the Ɂa- or ta- of the second member is dropped. When the nouns are independent nouns, which do not have Ɂa- or ta‑, Ɂa- is prefixed to the prior member:

Ɂamyôu ‘race, people’: Ɂamyôumyôu ‘various on all races’; Ɂasà ‘start, beginning’: Ɂayá ‘place’: Ɂasàzà Ɂayáyá šádé ‘(I) kooked everywhere’.

taphyêibyêi phappá ‘read slowly’; talwêlwê loutté ‘(he) did it wrong’.

myòu ‘city’: Ɂamyòumyòu ‘cities, in general’; ywá ‘village’: Ɂaywáywá ‘villages, in general’.

174. When the members of a doubled noun are the parts of a dissyllabic noun with a modifier accompanying each part, the juncture is open between the two parts:

seilleɁ ‘mind’: Ɂêidé ‘is cool’: seiɁɁêi leɁɁêi ‘relaxed’: seiɁɁêi leɁɁêi shóuðalóu taphyêibyêi θwâmé ‘(I) will go slowly, relaxed, as the saying is’.

175. When the members of a doubled noun are two different nouns, the juncture is close. The only examples of this construction quotable are nouns derived from verbs with the proclitic Ɂa- (150):

Ɂanî ‘near’: Ɂanâ ‘near’: ɁanîɁanâhmá šîdé ‘(it) is near’; ɁalouɁ ‘work’: Ɂakáin (káindé ‘uses, does’): θù ɁalouɁɁakáin zagabyán ‘his profession (is that of) interpreter’.

176. When the members of a doubled noun are a noun repeated with ta- prefixed to the first member, the juncture is close. The prefixed ta- is the numeral tiɁ (132), and the members of this type of doubled noun are classifiers (141):

takhùgù ‘one by one’; tayauyyauɁ ‘one (person) by one’.

177. When the members of a doubled noun are nouns repeated with ta- (cf. 176) prefixed to both members, there is space juncture between them. The nouns used in this type of doubled noun are classifiers (141):

takhá takhá ‘from time to time’; tachéin takhá ‘from time to time’; takhá taléi ‘from time to time’; tayaussí tayaussí ‘one (person) after another’.

178. Doubled nouns with distributive force are used in questions requiring an enumeration (71).

hóu Ɂalán, bá Ɂayáun bá Ɂayáunlê ‘what color is that flag?’ khímbyâ θaŋéjîn, badú badúlê ‘who are your friends?’

[References are to sections.]

Ɂa- 150, 173
-Ɂáun 51
-cà 88
-chín 94
-há 61, 62
-hlà 95
-hlù 98
-hmá 153; 82, 83
-hmà 52
-hnáin 96
-kà 82, 84, 128
-kè 36, 38, 44
khaɁ- 163, 171
-khè 89
-khín 161
-kô 61, 63
-kóu 82, 85
-lâ 104; 43, 44, 45, 49
-laiɁ 90
-lê 61, 64; 43, 44, 45, 49, 131
-léi 61, 72, 92
-lèin 97
-lóu 61, 65
-lòu 53; 61, 74
ma- 46, 47
-ma- 44
-mà 61, 66
-mé 36, 39, 44, 92, 97
-mì 99
-nè 47; 82, 86, 128, 137
-nó 61, 73
-Ɂôun 91
-pa- 44, 92
-pá 92; 61, 67
-pà 92
-péidè 54
-péimè 55
-phê 162; 61, 68
-phòu 127, 157
-phû 100; 46
-pí 36, 40, 44
-sân 105
-sayá 156
-séi 106
-sòu 107
t- t- 163, 169
ta- 151; 173; 163, 170
-tá 152
-tâin 158
-té 154; 36, 37
-tè 126, 154; 61, 75
-theɁ 61, 69
-tò 56; 93; 61, 70
-tôun 159
-θa- 154; 44, 49
-θá 61, 76
-θêi 101
-wùn 102
-yà 103
-yàɁáun 108
-yé 61, 71
-yè 36, 38, 44
-yín 57
-yínlê 58
-yîn 59
-yóun 160

Notes (Wikisource)
  1. August 15, 1902, was actually a Friday.
  2. This is an unusual interpretation. Most studies of Burmese phonology recognize palatal nasals /ɲ hɲ/ rather than clusters /ny hny/.
  3. [From Errata:] Delete: , less often to a subordinate verb (81)
  4. [From Errata:] For myîn masî θwâbû read myîn sî maθwâbû
  5. [From Errata:] Delete: , less often to a subordinate verb (81)
  6. [From Errata:] Delete: myîn masî θwânè


§46. Delete: , less often to a subordinate verb (81)
For myîn masî θwâbû read myîn sî maθwâbû
§47. Delete: , less often to a subordinate verb (81)
Delete: myîn masî θwânè

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