I finally got to the point, after many long early morning hours, where I felt I could remove the ‘Draft’ from the heading of my Myanmar (Burmese) script notes.
This page is the result of my explorations into how the Myanmar script is used for the Burmese language in the context of the Unicode Myanmar block. It takes into account the significant changes introduced in Unicode version 5.1 in April of this year.
There’s also a PDF version, if you don’t want to install the (free) fonts pointed to for the examples.
Here is a summary of the script:
Myanmar is a tonal language and is syllable-based. The script is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden using vowel signs.
Spaces are used to separate phrases, rather than words. Words can be separated with ZWSP to allow for easy wrapping of text.
Words are composed of syllables. These start with an consonant or initial vowel. An initial consonant may be followed by a medial consonant, which adds the sound j or w. After the vowel, a syllable may end with a nasalisation of the vowel or an unreleased glottal stop, though these final sounds can be represented by various different consonant symbols.
At the end of a syllable a final consonant usually has an ‘asat’ sign above it, to show that there is no inherent vowel.
In multisyllabic words derived from an Indian language such as Pali, where two consonants occur internally with no intervening vowel, the consonants tend to be stacked vertically, and the asat sign is not used.
Text runs from left to right.
There are a set of Myanmar numerals, which are used just like Latin digits.
So, what next. I’m quite keen to get to Mongolian. That looks really complicated. But I’ve been telling myself for a while that I ought to look at Malayalam or Tamil, so I think I’ll try Malayalam.