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Burma Main Page

 

The Languages of Burma

 


Languages:
Burmese (offical) minority ethnic groups have their own languages
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.9%
male: 93.9%
female: 86.4% (2006 est.)

Education expenditures:
1.2% of GDP (2001)
country comparison to the world: 
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 9 years
male: 8 years
female: 8 years (2007)

Burmese, the mother tongue of the Bamar and official language of Burma, is related to Tibetan and to the Chinese languages. It is written in a script consisting of circular and semi-circular letters, which were adapted from the Mon script, which in turn was developed from a southern Indian script in the 8th century. The earliest known inscriptions in the Burmese script date from the 11th century. It is also used to write Pali, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, as well as several ethnic minority languages, including Shan, several Karen dialects, and Kayah (Karenni), with the addition of specialised characters and diacritics for each language. The Burmese language incorporates widespread usage of honorifics and is age-oriented. Burmese society has traditionally stressed the importance of education. In villages, secular schooling often takes place in monasteries. Secondary and tertiary education take place at government schools.

 


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