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Burmese Localization

After years of isolation, the doors are wide open and investment is flowing in to Myanmar from all corners of the globe, however communications should be handled with care. Burmese translation and localization shouldn’t be tackled without the necessary know-how and experience.

Common use of non-Unicode compliant fonts (Zawgyi), DTP programs that can’t support Burmese, absence of spacing between words, stacked consonants as well as complex ligatures, importance of vocabulary and grammar use appropriate to the content use; these are just some considerations when embarking on Burmese localization projects. Selecting the right Burmese translation partner with the right credentials is crucial.

The Burmese language (Myanma Bhasa) is a member of the Tibeto-Burman group of the Sino-Tibetan language family. It is the first language of three-quarters of the population of Myanmar. (Although the current constitution of Myanmar deems the official name in English to be the “Myanmar language,” most English speakers still refer to the language as “Burmese.”)


  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Machine Translation engine building
  • Machine Translation post-editing
  • Desktop publishing
  • Voiceover & dubbing
  • Subtitling & closed captions
  • Flash & multimedia localization
  • Linguistic testing
  • Functional testing
  • Interpretation


  • Documentation
  • Technical manuals
  • Marketing materials
  • Brochures & flyers
  • Packaging & labeling
  • Magazines & newsletters
  • Websites
  • Mobile applications
  • Software applications
  • Training & eLearning
  • Voiceover & multimedia
  • Video content

About Burmese

Burmese is a diglossic language; i.e., there are major differences between the written and spoken forms of the language in terms of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. The written language has changed relatively little over the centuries, whereas the modern colloquial language has undergone major changes from Old Burmese. Despite the major differences between the written and spoken forms of Burmese, they are considered to be different registers of the same language.

Burmese is written using an abugida (an alphabet in which each consonant has an inherent vowel sound) in the Brahmic family, and is an adaptation of the Old Mon script. The earliest example of the script is dated to 1035 CE. The script has been extended to include glyphs for some of the other languages spoken in Myanmar, including Mon, Karen, Shan, and Rumai Palaung, as well as for transliteration of Sanskrit and Pali. The script is written from left to right, with no spaces required between words; in modern writing, spaces are often used to separate minor clauses. There are also two symbols used to separate major clauses and sentences.

The script is complex, comprising: 33 consonants; 4 medial consonant diacritics, up to 3 of which can be used in combination; 10 independent vowels; 11 diacritic vowels; and 5 diacritics which modify vowel sounds. In addition, certain consonant clusters are written as stacked ligatures, and when in the inferior position, some of these consonants are written using different glyphs. Both traditional numerals and Western numerals are in common use. (The above summary does not include 108 additional glyphs used when writing or transliterating languages other than Burmese per se.)


Medial Consonant Diacritics*

Independent Vowels

Diacritic Vowels*

Tone/Vowel Sound Diacritics*

Punctuation and Grammatical Characters


* In order to ensure th

at the glyphs for diacritics display correctly on all browsers, they are shown as paired with the letter .

Burmese Translation & Localization Challenges

  • Due to the absence of spaces between words, line-breaking cannot be performed properly by a non-native DTP operator.
  • Burmese is one of the most orthographically complex languages, as it uses stacked consonants; pre-, post-, super-, and sub-scripted vowels and diacritics; as well as ligatures. Many DTP programs cannot properly support the language and data entry is complex.
  • There are instances where a single consonant glyph acts as both the final consonant on one word and the initial consonant of the following word; although uncommon, this situation can cause inaccuracies in word counts.
  • Because the language has distinct written and spoken registers, the choice of vocabulary and grammar used when translating into Burmese must be appropriate for both the subject matter and the target audience. This is especially true for advertising and marketing materials.


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For more information on how EQHO can assist you with your Burmese translation & localization requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website.

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