Burmese numerals

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Burmese numerals are a set of numerals traditionally used in the Burmese language, although the Arabic numerals are also used. Burmese numerals follow the Hindu-Arabic numeral system commonly used in the rest of the world.

Main numbers[edit]

Burmese numerals in various script styles

Zero to nine[edit]

Number Burmese
Numeral Written
(MLCTS)
IPA
0 သုည1
(su.nya.)
IPA: [θòʊɴɲa̰]
1 တစ်
(tac)
IPA: [tɪʔ]
2 နှစ်
(hnac)
IPA: [n̥ɪʔ]
3 သုံး
(sum:)
IPA: [θóʊɴ]
4 လေး
(le:)
IPA: [lé]
5 ငါး
(nga:)
IPA: [ŋá]
6 ခြောက်
(hkrauk)
IPA: [tɕʰaʊʔ]
7 ခုနစ်
(hku. hnac)
IPA: [kʰʊ̀ɴ n̥ɪʔ]2
8 ရှစ်
(hrac)
IPA: [ʃɪʔ]
9 ကိုး
(kui:)
IPA: [kó]
10 ၁၀ ဆယ်
(hcay)
IPA: [sʰɛ̀]

1 Burmese for zero comes from Sanskrit śūnya.
2 Can be pronounced IPA: [kʰʊ̀ɴ].

Spoken Burmese has innate pronunciation rules that govern numbers when they are combined with another word, be it a numerical place (e.g. tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.) or a measure word.

  • For one, two, and seven (all of which end in the rhyme [-ɪʔ]), when combined, shift to an open vowel, namely the schwa ([ə])
  • For three, four, five, and nine which all have the long tone (similar to the flat tone in pinyin), when combined, the word immediately following it, given that it begins with a consonant, shifts to a voiced consonant (e.g., ၄၀, "40" is pronounced [lé zɛ̀], not [lé sʰɛ̀]). Other suffixes such as ထောင် ([tʰàʊɴ]; thousand), သောင်း ([θáʊɴ]; ten thousand), သိန်း ([θéɪɴ]; hundred thousand), and သန်း ([θáɴ]; million) all shift to ([dàʊɴ]; thousand), ([ðáʊɴ]; ten thousand), ([ðéɪɴ]; hundred thousand), and [ðáɴ]; million), respectively.
  • For six and eight, no pronunciation shift occurs.

These pronunciation shifts are exclusively confined to spoken Burmese and are not spelt any differently.

Ten to a million[edit]

Number Burmese
Numeral Written IPA
10 ၁၀ တစ်ဆယ် IPA: [təsʰɛ̀]1
11 ၁၁ တစ်ဆယ်တစ် IPA: [təsʰɛ̰ tɪʔ] or [sʰɛʔ tɪʔ]
12 ၁၂ တစ်ဆယ်နှစ် IPA: [təsʰɛ̰ n̥ɪʔ] or [sʰɛʔ n̥ɪʔ]
20 ၂၀ နှစ်ဆယ် IPA: [n̥əsʰɛ̀]
21 ၂၁ နှစ်ဆယ့်တစ် IPA: [n̥əsʰɛ̰ tɪʔ] or [n̥əsʰɛʔ tɪʔ]
22 ၂၂ နှစ်ဆယ့်နှစ် IPA: [n̥əsʰɛ̰ n̥ɪʔ] or [n̥əsʰɛʔ n̥ɪʔ]
100 ၁၀၀ ရာ IPA: [jà]
1 000 ၁၀၀၀ ထောင် IPA: [tʰàʊɴ]1
10 000 ၁၀၀၀၀ သောင်း IPA: [θáʊɴ]1
100 000 ၁၀၀၀၀၀ သိန်း IPA: [θéɪɴ]1
1 000 000 ၁၀၀၀၀၀၀ သန်း IPA: [θáɴ]1
10 000 000 ၁၀၀၀၀၀၀၀ ကုဋေ IPA: [ɡədè]
100 000 000 000 000 ၁၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀ ကောဋိ IPA: [kɔ́dḭ]
1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 ၁၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀၀ ပကောဋိ IPA: [pəkɔ́dḭ]
. . .
. . .
. . .
1 * 10140 ၁ × ၁၀၁၄၀ အသင်္ချေ

1 Shifts to voiced consonant following three, four, five, and nine.

Ten to nineteen are almost always expressed without including တစ် (one).

Another pronunciation rule shifts numerical place name (the tens, hundreds and thousands place) from the low tone to the creaky tone.

  • Number places from 10 (တစ်ဆယ်) up to 107 (ကုဋေ) has increment of 101. Beyond those Number places, larger number places have increment of 107. 1014 (ကောဋိ) up to 10140 (အသချေင်ျ) has increment of 107.
  • There are totally 27 major number places in Myanmar Numerals from 1x100 to 10140 (namely: “ ခု၊ ဆယ်၊ ရာ၊ ထောင်၊ သောင်း၊ သိန်း၊ သန်း၊ ကုဋေ၊ ကောဋိ၊ ပကောဋိ၊ ကောဋိပကောဋိ၊ နဟုတံ၊ နိန္နဟုတံ၊ အက္ခဘေိဏီ၊ ဗိန္ဒု၊ အဗ္ဗုဒ၊ နိရဗ္ဗုဒ၊ အဗဗ၊ အဋဋ၊ သောကနိ္ဓက၊ ဥပ္ပလ၊ ကုမုဒ၊ ပဒုမ၊ ပုဏ္ဍရိက၊ ကထာန၊ မဟာကထာန၊ အသင်္ချေ”
  • Numbers in the tens place: shift from ဆယ် ([sʰɛ̀], low tone) to ဆယ့် ([sʰɛ̰], creaky tone), except in numbers divisible by ten (10, 20, 30, etc.) In typical speech, the shift goes farther to ([sʰɛʔ] or [zɛʔ]).
  • Numbers in the hundreds place: shift from ရာ ([jà], low tone) to ရာ့ ([ja̰], creaky tone), except for numbers divisible by 100.
  • Numbers in the thousands place: shift from ထောင် ([tʰàʊɴ], low tone) to ထောင့် ([tʰa̰ʊɴ], creaky tone), except for numbers divisible by 1000.

Hence, a number like 301 is pronounced [θóʊɴ ja̰ tɪʔ] (သုံးရာ့တစ်), while 300 is pronounced [θóʊɴ jà] (သုံးရာ).

The digits of a number are expressed in order of decreasing digits place. For example, 1,234,567 is expressed as follows (where the highlighted portions represent numbers whose tone has shifted from low → creaky:

Numeral 1,000,000 200,000 30,000 4,000 500 60 7
Burmese
IPA [təθáɴ]1 [n̥əθeɪɴ]1 [θóʊɴ ðáʊɴ] [lé da̰ʊɴ] [ŋá ja̰] [tɕʰaʊʔ sʰɛ̰] [kʰʊ̀ɴ n̥ɪʔ]
Written တစ်သန်း နှစ်သိန်း သုံးသောင်း လေးထောင့် ငါးရာ့ ခြောက်ဆယ့် ခုနစ်

1 When combined with the numeral place, the pronunciations for 1 and 2 shift from a checked tone (glottal stop) to an open vowel ([ə]).

Round number rule[edit]

When a number is used as an adjective, the standard word order is: number + measure word (e.g. ၅ ခွက် for "5 cups"). However, for round numbers (numbers ending in zeroes), the word order is flipped to: measure word + number (e.g. ပုလင်း ၂၀, not ၂၀ ပုလင်း, for "20 bottles"). The exception to this rule is the number 10, which follows the standard word order.

Ordinal numbers[edit]

Ordinal numbers, from first to tenth (and rarely eleventh), are Burmese pronunciations of their Pali equivalents. They are prefixed to the noun. Beyond that, cardinal numbers can be raised to the ordinal by suffixing the particle မြောက် ([mjaʊʔ], lit. "to raise") to the number in the following order: number + measure word + မြောက်.

Ordinal Burmese
Burmese IPA
First ပထမ IPA: [pətʰəma̰]
Second ဒုတိယ IPA: [dṵtḭja̰]
Third တတိယ IPA: [taʔtḭja̰]
Fourth စတုတ္ထ IPA: [zədoʊʔtʰa̰]
Fifth ပဉ္စမ IPA: [pjɪ̀ɴsəma̰]
Sixth ဆဋ္ဌမ IPA: [sʰaʔtʰa̰ma̰]
Seventh သတ္တမ IPA: [θaʔtəma̰]
Eighth အဋ္ဌမ IPA: [ʔaʔtʰama̰]
Ninth နဝမ IPA: [nəwəma̰]
Tenth ဒသမ IPA: [daʔθəma̰]
Eleventh ဧကာဒသမ1 IPA: [ʔèkà da̰ θama̰]

1 Equivalent to ဆယ့်တစ် + measure word + မြောက်.

Decimal and fractional numbers[edit]

Colloquially, decimal numbers are formed by saying ဒသမ ([daʔθəma̰], Pali for 'tenth') where the decimal separator is located. For example, 10.1 is ဆယ် ဒသမ တစ် ([sʰè da̰ (daʔ) θəma̰ tɪʔ]).

Half (1/2) is expressed primarily by တစ်ဝက် ([təwɛʔ]), although ထက်ဝက်, အခွဲ and အခြမ်း are also used. Quarter (1/4) is expressed with အစိတ် ([ʔəseɪʔ]) or တစ်စိတ်.

Other fractional numbers are verbally expressed as follows: denominator + ပုံ ([pòʊɴ]) + numerator + ပုံ. ပုံ literally translates as "portion." For example, 3/4 would be expressed as လေးပုံသုံးပုံ, literally "of four portions, three portions.

Alternate numbers[edit]

Other numbers, not of Tibeto-Burman origin, are also found in the Burmese language. They are exceedingly rare and usually from Pali or Sanskrit. ဧက ([ʔèka̰]), from Pali ḗka, means one. ဒွိ ([dwḭ]), from Pali, means two. တြိ ([tɹḭ]), from Sanskrit tri, means three and စတု ([zətṵ]), from Pali, means four (as in the four cardinal points (စတုဒိသာ). ဇယ, a Hindi-derived word for four (चार), is used very rarely.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Burmese numbers at Wikimedia Commons