New project: Zagabon, a compilation of Burmese proverbs

New project: Zagabon, a compilation of Burmese proverbs

I’ve begun a small side project on Tumblr, called Zagabon, to collect and publish Burmese proverbs and sayings of all kinds, along with English translations and context if necessary. There’s a pretty extensive Burmese proverb website up (, but unfortunately, much of the content is locked out to English speakers. That’s saddening.

The collection can be found at

My mom inspired my own attempt to collect all these sayings. I was raised in a bilingual household–my dad used only English with the children, while my mom used only Burmese, even though they communicate to each other in Burmese. Growing up, I became familiar with a plethora of Burmese sayings, perhaps the one thing I associate most with my mother. During the early years of their marriage, my father started his own form of documentation: Burmese scribbles onto notebooks and memo pads here and there, on the sayings my mom had to offer. So much so, that she began to say “Write it down” after reciting a proverb. This is just (hopefully) a more systematic approach and a continuation of his work.

Also, I’ve taken note at many folks who have an interest in these sayings, both Burmese speakers and non-speakers alike.

I think proverbs truly highlight the beauty of the Burmese language, with its earthy fluid sounds, regular vowel rhymes and mostly monosyllabic vocabulary. But it’s exceedingly difficult to translate the nuances of the Burmese language, so I’ll try my best to render the proverbs as well as I can in English.

I could use some help though–if anybody wants to chip in a proverb or two, feel free to do so in my submit box! (

In the mean time, enjoy.

3 thoughts on “New project: Zagabon, a compilation of Burmese proverbs

  1. lwinmoe says:

    အရေးကြီး သွေးနီး (əyéi ʧí θwé ní)
    In time of test, family is best.
    Note: In the parenthesis is IPA.

  2. mabaydar says:

    I am truely proud of your mom.

    Here in singapore, some family migrate with young children. Both are Burmese parents but they hardly speak or understand Burmese language or they seems to discrimiate on Burmese. They feel ashame to admit that they have real Burmese blood running in them.

    I feel heartbreaking whenever i saw these kind of children and just wanna blame their parents.
    But I met with my mom’s friends who married to American. Both of her son doesn’t look like Myanmar at all. But they can speak Burmese language fluently and fond of Burmese food.

    I thought you were born there but you seems to be fond of Burmese language and doesn’t feel ashamed of being Burmese blood. I become your regular reader after I am reserching about Burmese language lesson in English.

    And I am proud of you too.

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