Burmese Classifiers

A very happy new year 2014 to the readers of SEAPRG blog!

It’s great to start the new year with a fresh post on one of lesser learnt languages in the world — Burmese. Not much has been published on it in the English language in Linguistics, so there are many unexplored areas for linguists!

Since 2011, politics and economic reforms have brought new-found optimism to Myanmar. If these reforms continue and gain positive results, we can be assured that more will be interested in Myanmar especially  in the economic aspects.  Sustaining the current stability is important in the new year and in the future. I hope more will be keen to understand this language, as many young Burmese are also keen to pick up foreign languages.

I am going to take a look at classifiers again. As classifiers categorize nominals, it is not an exaggeration to say that classifiers contribute to the overall typological picture of a language. Elements of nature and occupations of inhabitants in a place, for example, make up the nominal category, thus classifiers can help us to see how a society organizes these.  For example, Burmese has eight classifiers for a river to show the different aspects of the meaning of “a river”! It also has other noun categorization devices besides classifiers such as class terms. Find out more from this article by Alice Vittrant (Lacito-CNRS/University of Paris VIII):  Burmese Classifiers




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