I finally got to reading an excellent report out by the Justice Trust, entitled Hidden Hands Behind Communal Violence in Myanmar: Case Study of the Mandalay Riots. It presents a compelling analysis as to the origins of the riot violence that gripped Mandalay in July 2014, affecting both Muslim and Buddhist communities.
Khan Academy is an awesome online service, offering educational videos in virtually every major subject, from math and science to economics and finance. More importantly, it’s free, meaning this resource could possibly be leveraged throughout the developing world. Video content has already been translated into nearly 3 dozen languages.
The e-Gov fever has officially hit Burma’s regional governments. Continue reading
The size of the Burmese American community has given it greater clout in recent years. Because of its growing numbers, since the 2010 Census, “Burmese” has been separately measured as an ethnicity. So it was quite exciting for me to get in and dissect a wealth of data on what the Burmese American community looks like, in terms of income, age, education, and poverty.
A more granular look at the Burmese American population, down to the county-level, reveals many surprising and obscure names that are home to large Burmese American populations.
Working in the American health care sector has intensified my fascination with the health care landscape, the complex interplays between patient and provider, government and business sector, and the competing motivators of money versus care.
And the bottom line is that the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and populations is at stake. Yet most people overlook what underpins these medical transactions: insurance policies and legislation.
So the Finance Ministry’s announcement that health insurance is coming to Burma let me feeling like this was a bit premature.
Burmese Americans are widely dispersed throughout America. Surprisingly, there is no single geographic region that is home to most Burmese Americans. Here’s a look at which states most Burmese Americans reside in. Continue reading
We Burmese Americans are an elusive bunch. We’re rather underrepresented among Asian Americans. But our exact numbers are unknown. The other day, my mom asked me how big the Burmese American community was, and to that I had no answer. So I turned to some numbers from the 2010 Census, which shed some light on the size of the Burmese American community.
Throughout the rest of the world, local numeral systems are quickly being replaced with Hindu-Arabic numerals (i.e., 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). This holds true across Asia, where countries with native sets of numerals, like Thailand, Cambodia, and China, increasingly prefer the Hindu-Arabic forms in daily use, relegating the indigenous sets to ceremonial usage. In Europe, Hindu-Arabic numerals had replaced cumbersome Roman numerals by the 1400s.
Yet Burmese remains a curious outlier in Asia. Record-keeping is still largely done in Burmese numerals, even after nearly a century of British colonization. And although mathematics is taught using the Hindu-Arabic set, the traditional set of Burmese numerals is still widely used, in literature, newspapers, and handwriting. But why?
As descendants of the Old Mon script, both Burmese and Lanna can and are used to transcribe Pāḷi, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism, akin to Latin’s role in Roman Catholicism. In fact, for hundreds of years, both Burmese and Lanna have historically served as vehicles of knowledge transfer in Mainland Southeast Asia, used in to transcribe Pali texts and religious commentaries on inscriptions and manuscripts.
I explore the conventions of Pali transcription in both Lanna and Burmese below. The similarities almost render Lanna transcriptions readable to a literate Burmese speaker.
On Thursday, March 26, Than Shwe’s grandson posted a Facebook photo of Than Shwe and his granddaughter. An Irrawaddy article, “Former Burma Supremo Seen in Rare Photo With Granddaughter,” first brought this to my attention.
There’s been much confusion in English language media with respect to the translation of the name of Burma’s national capital, Naypyidaw (နေပြည်တော်). Conventional translations range from “abode of kings” to “royal capital” to “seat of the king” to “royal city.” All of these are mostly correct, but are without nuanced context.
Burmese is quite inconsistent in its transcription of foreign place names. Historical practice has tended toward preservation of the original language’s orthography. For example, the Burmese word for France is ပြင်သစ်, pronounced Pyinthit in modern Burmese, but spelt prang sac, which is much closer to the Roman spelling of France.
Nowadays, the prevailing trend is to imitate pronunciation of the place name in the English language. However, when it comes to place names that use obvious Indic loanwords, especially in neighboring countries like Thailand, Burmese speakers, on occasion, employ equivalent Indic spellings. For one, Bangkok’s International Airport, called Suvarnabhumi, is rendered into Burmese as Thuwunnabumi (သုဝဏ္ဏဘူမိ), in line with the actual Indic orthography, not with the actual Thai pronunciation (Suwannaphum) nor with the expected English pronunciation.
Unfortunately, this is an exception, not the rule. In many instances, Burmese speakers fail to recognize the Indic origins of the Thai place names they transcribe. Instead, they create Frankenstein transcriptions that are neither based on original orthography nor the intended pronunciation, ultimately doing a disservice to the longstanding literary and linguistic heritage shared by both Thais and the Burmese.