The best-laid plans of My-an-mar.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

or, How do you solve a problem like Myanmar?

Question: How do you pronounce Myanmar?

Wikipedia tells me — well, it tells me a lot, none of which helps. Apparently, it’s supposed to be pronounced, in Burmese (not in “Myanmarese,” strangely), as “Myanma”, but all y’all non-rhotics gave the people of Myanmar the idear that they could tack on that extra “r” without affecting the pronunciation and make themselves worth more in Scrabble. I now know that the “an” is pronounced differently in Burmese depending on whether it is used as a noun or an adjective. It also tells me that

Opposition parties, although they oppose the English name “Myanmar”, do not oppose the official Burmese name Myanma, and no opposition party is proposing to use the colloquial name Bama as the official name of the country.

I’m a little tired, but I gather that “Bama” is pronounced to fit into

Bermuda, Bahama, / Come on, pretty Bama,

rather than

I can’t forget the glamour,

Your eyes held a tender light,

And stars fell all over Bama

Last night., another place I go for answers, helps me less. The dictionary gives the pronunciation as

Myan·mar (myän-mär, -mär),

and the encyclopedia as

Myanmar (myänmär, mēänmär)

and the “geography” as

Myanmar (myahn-mahr, meye-ahn-mahr)

I think I’m going to have to wait until I finally meet someone from Bama Burma Myanmar before I find out where this accent actually falls, and I get the feeling that I’ll have to endure a political spiel before I get my answer.

Instead, doggerel.

“We shall disembark in Burma,”

Mama said to Grandma Rita.

But when they reached terra firma

They found terra incognita.

Unbeknownst to dear old Mama,

She had misinformed my gran’mar;

They found neither Bur- nor Bama —

Burma had become Myanmar.

— Bry

PS: If y’all wouldn’t mind hanging on, I’ll try to figure out some way to work Yangon in.


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