Bringing the Burmese language up to speed

The Burmese language has a huge task at hand: modernizing itself. It’s amazing how stunted the language feels when one tries to describe business and technical jargon, making it difficult to lucidly articulate oneself in the professional realm, especially for those schooled in the West.

I, for one, work in health IT, which has specialized vocabulary that the average layman would find difficult to understand, let alone laymen speaking other languages. In the world of virtualized servers and system thin clients, I was hard pressed to explain these concepts in Burmese when I returned earlier last year, or even more generic project management concepts. Even my recent examination of Google’s Burmese Gmail translation effort reveals the usage of several unfiltered imports from English, including the word email itself.

Yesterday, I came across a newly published article, “Those Who Would Remake Myanmar Find That Words Fail Them,” which examines, if just scratching the surface, the challenges of the Burmese language in terms of its lexical capacity.

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Page from Burmese Family

Digital Library of India: A repository of colonial Burma records

The other day I stumbled across the Digital Library of India (www.dli.gov.in), which turns out, is a treasure trove of resources on Burma, particularly on books and government reports compiled during the colonial period, as well as a handful of books from the post-colonial period.

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Gmail Myanmar

Gmail in Burmese: how do the translations stack up?

On Wednesday, Gmail officially announced on its blog that Burmese was added as Gmail’s 74th supported language:

To capture the nuances of this language and make sure the translations were accurate, consistent and complete, we relied on an array of Myanmar speakers from within the country, and around the world. In April 2013 we launched Google Search in Myanmar, and today we’re excited to announce that Gmail now supports Myanmar (Burmese), our 74th language. [link]

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