Burmese Language’s similarities with numerous other languages

Burmese Language’s similarities with numerous other languages

Nowadays Myanmars are working abroad and interact with other fellow foreigners who are also struggling abroad.

I have worked together with Iraqi doctors in University Hospital KL and now also a lot of Indonesians, Iraqis, Kurdish people, Arabs, Iranians, Koreans, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sinhalese, Nepalese, Japanese, Chinese Nationals, Africans, Kazakhstanis, Egyptians, Palestinians etc are regularly coming to my clinic and some are even becoming good friends.

I used to surprise the Kurdish people and Iranians with the parting greeting, “Khoda Hafiz” meaning, may God protect you. They are surprised, happy and asked me where I have learned this greeting. When I told them that that is the way, we as Burmese Muslims greet they became closer to me and curious about us. And I understand that Khoda, Namaz, Roza, Ramzan…the words Burmese Muslims use are different slang from Arabic and Malaysian Muslims but are similar to the Iranians. May be Urdu language incorporated these from the earliest Iranian rulers (invaders) of India before Mogul Emperors.

You may also be surprised, if you know that Rice which we called “Hta Min” in Burmese language is also called “Hta Min” in Iraq language. When I told that I am from Mandalay, my Iraqi friend surprised me by telling me that they also have a place in Iraq called Mandalay.

And there are Mandaline People from Indonesia and some of them even claimed that they came down from a place near Mandalay on the way along the journey from the north Yunnan/Tibet to Indonesia.

I am working in Chinese Clinic for many years and as there are a lot of Cantonese amongst my patients, I learnt few hundred of words, phrases and sentences related to my Medical work to facilitate communicating with my patients. I am surprised again to realize that even in that very limited knowledge of Cantonese language there are hundreds of words similar sounding and meaning in our mother tongue, Burmese language.

Nearly 30 years ago, while I was waiting to get the approval for resignation from my teaching job from Surgical Department of Mandalay Medical University (at that time called IMM), I started to learn Bahasa Malaysia and found out about 30 Malay words similar to Burmese words. Most of them have the common roots in Sanskrit.

My Tamil and Nepalese patients could read some of the Burmese alphabets. And their vowels and way of writing is same as A, Ar, Ei, Ee, u, Oo, ae, air, au, or, an, arr….I was almost fainted. Burmese and their language have come down from Brahmi ancient Indian language. Present written Malay language is in Roman letters and prior to that was in Jawi script (Arabic) which is still in use but not widely. But the first script was similar to Burmese Script as it was also rooted in Brami.

My Mon and Shan patients told we that they could learn Thai language easily because there is a lot of similarities between them. And I have learnt that one of the six Orang Asli ( Original People or Aborigines) of Malaysia are using the Mon Khmar language similar to our Mon People.

Burmese Muslims were called as Zerbadi or Zerbadee during the British time but discontinued because of the dislike of that name by Muslims. According to Dr. Moshe Yegar, this word originated from Farsi and means “People below the wind.” Arabs and Iranians who used to sail in Monsoon Weather, called themselves as “People above the wind” and Burmese Muslims, Thai Muslims, Malay Muslims and Indonesians as “People below the wind.” It is somewhat like “Anyar Thars and Auk Thars in Burmese. In Malaysia they used in their language, “Orang di atas angin and orang di bawah angin.” But there is a variant that West Malaysians used to call East Malaysians as orang di bawah angin meaning people below the wind. Quiet interesting similar usages


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