Re: Burma/Myanmar

From: Glen Perkins (
Date: Tue Oct 05 1999 - 17:37:59 EDT

The fact that the word is not new is interesting. I didn't know that, and I
appreciate the new information. It hardly means that it has no painful
connotations to the Burmese people, however. For all I know the
transliteration "Kampuchea" was used by anti-French communist guerilla's in
the 1920s, but the fact that the communist Khmer Rouge insisted on renaming
Cambodia Kampuchea, like SLORC renaming Burma Myanmar, made that name a
symbol of their loathsome regime.

I do realize that expecting WG2 to go ask Aung San Suu Kyi (the
democratically elected leader of Burma) what to name Burmese characters is
hopelessly utopian. Honestly, I do understand that. I don't consider WG2
foolish, arrogant, oppressive, racist, sexist, homophobic, or any such
thing. The real problem, in my opinion, is the fact that a *temporary*
regime that claims to represent people it doesn't actually represent can
screw up the naming *permanently* for those people. When they are eventually
able to speak for themselves, they'll be told, "sorry, it's too late -- if
you didn't like it, you should have said something earlier".

The reasons for this permanence are technical, not political so, again, I'm
not accusing the standards people of evil-doing. I just hope that either
there will never be a case where the names chosen by illegitimate
"representatives" cause much pain (maybe the Burmese people don't actually
care and neither will any future ethnic group in this position), or that
there will be a technical solution (aliases or whatever).

Glen Perkins

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Everson <>
To: Unicode List <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 1999 10:53 AM
Subject: Re: Burma/Myanmar

> The word isn't new.
> =====
> Department of the Myanmar Language Commission, Ministry of Eduation, Union
> of Myanmar. 1992. Myanmaa-anglip abhidhaan = Myanmar-English Dictionary.
> myanmaa /mjama/ n 1 the people of Myanmar. 2 (a) Same as bamaa b; Bamar;
> (b) (no longer current) Burmese, Burman.
> bamaa /bamar/ n 1 Bamar: Burmese; Burman. 2 Same as myanmaa n. 3 one of
> suits in the three-deck domino game (thui:puipe). See also rum:.
> =====
> R. F. St. A. St. John. 1936. Burmese self-taught.
> Burma: Myammaa or Bhamaa. "The word Myahnmaah is seldom used though it is
> the classic name. The original tribne was Mrahn or Myahn, which was
> converted by the monks into the Pali form Mrahnmaah, which by natural law
> became Bahmaah. The Arracanese branch of the family retain the form
> Mrahnmaah."
> =====
> --
> Michael Everson * Everson Gunn Teoranta *
> 15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
> Guthán: +353 1 478 2597 ** Facsa: +353 1 478 2597 (by arrangement)
> 27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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