Myanmar (Burma)

There are nearly 100 languages spoken in Myanmar, the most popular among them being the Burmese language. Burmese is the official language of the country, and is also the most widely spoken language in the country. Burmese is spoken by two-thirds of the country’s total population.

Burmese is a Sino-Tibetan language and the native language of millions of Bamar people who speak it as their first language. Burmese is also spoken by the ethnic minority group called Mon, as well as some other minority ethnic groups across Myanmar. The Burmese language is related to the Tibetan and Chinese languages, while the script used to write Burmese was developed from a southern Indian script in the 5th century. Burmese is taught in Myanmar’s schools and monasteries, with about 32 million people speaking it as their first language and another 10 million people who speak it as a second language. The Burmese language is an age-oriented language and includes the use of honorifics.

Apart from Burmese, there are a number of indigenous languages native to Myanmar, such as: Shan, the Karen Languages, Kachin, Mon, and several othersspoken by the various ethnic communities of Myanmar. Shan is a native language of Myanmar spoken by the Shan people and most heavily represented in the Shan State of Myanmar. It is also spoken in some parts of the Kachin state as well. The Shan language is part of the Tai-Kadai family of languages, with an estimated 3.2 million people who speak it. The Karen languages are a group of tonal languages spoken by the native Karen people of Myanmar. The Karen language is classified into three branches: Pwo, Sqaw, and Pa’o, and written using the Burmese script. Kachin (or Jingpho) is spoken by a large group of people in the Kachin State of Burma. The Kachin language is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family and is spoken by 900,000 ethnic Kachins in Burma. The Mon language is an Austroasiatic language spoken by an estimated 750,000 Mon people residing in Myanmar. Not all Mon people speak this language in Myanmar, however, as a large portion of them is actually monolingual and only speak Burmese.

Foreign languages spoken in Myanmar include English as the most important foreign language in the country. The study of English is widely promoted in the country, and although Burmese is used as the primary instruction language in Myanmar’s schools, English is taught as a secondary language. Until 1964, English was taught and used as the primary instruction medium in the educational institutions across the country.


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