|Languages||languages of Burma|
|6th c. to present|
modern Mon alphabet
|ISO 15924||Mymr, 350
The Mon or Burmese script is used for the Mon, Burmese, and Shan alphabets, as well as for the modern alphabets of other languages of Burma, such as Karen (S'gaw, Eastern and Western Pwo, and Geba), Rumai Palaung, and Kayah, though it is not the only script that's been used for these languages. The modern forms of all these alphabets are set by the standard of the Burmese alphabet, though there was more divergence in the past. The Mon script is also used for the liturgical languages of Pali and Sanskrit. Support for all modern forms is included in the Unicode standard.
The Old Mon script has been dated to the 6th century, with the earliest inscriptions found in Nakhon Pathom and Saraburi (in Thailand). It was closely related to or perhaps ancestral to the Tai Tham script, a liturgical script used in northern Thailand and Laos, the Pyu script of Burma, and the Ahom script of northeast India.
The earliest evidence of the Burmese alphabet is dated to 1035, while a casting made in the 18th century of an old stone inscription points to 984. Burmese calligraphy originally followed a square format but the cursive format took hold from the 17th century when popular writing led to the wider use of palm leaves and folded paper known as parabaiks. The script has undergone considerable modification to suit the evolving phonology of the Burmese language, but additional letters and diacritics have been added to adapt it to other languages; the Shan and Karen alphabets, for example, required of additional tone markers.
The basic Mon script contains 33 consonants (including a null consonant), and numerous diacritics for vowels; individual alphabets may add additional letters. It makes prominent use of consonant stacking, particularly for Pali-derived vocabulary. There are two classes of consonant, 'clear' and 'breathy' (light and medium grey in the table below), which have different inherent vowels and affect the values of vowel diacritics differently. The class of the consonant originally depended on whether in represented a voiceless or a voiced sound in Pali.
For the Burmese and most other alphabets, the digits from zero to nine are: ၀၁၂၃၄၅၆၇၈၉ (Unicode 1040 to 1049). The number 1945 would be written as ၁၉၄၅.
For the Shan alphabet, another set of digits is used: ႐႑႒႓႔႕႖႗႘႙.
Mon/Burmese script was added to the Unicode Standard in September, 1999 with the release of version 3.0. It was extended in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2.
The Unicode blocks for Burmese, called Myanmar, are U+1000–U+109F and U+AA60–U+AA7B. Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points:
Unicode.org chart (PDF)
Unicode.org chart (PDF)
For writing the basic Burmese language, only U+1000–U+104F is needed:
- the basic abugida for Burmese and other languages of Burma:
- U+1000–U+1020: the 33 base consonants
- U+1021–U+102A: 10 independent vowels letters (including 1 needed for Shan and 1 for Mon)
- U+102B–U+1035: 11 dependent vowel marks (diacritics combining on the right, above, below, or left of the base consonant)
- U+1036–U+103A: 5 syllable codas (anusvara, tone mark, visarga, virama, visible virama)
- U+103B–U+103E: 4 medial consonants (diacritics combining on the right, around, or below)
- U+103F: the Burmese letter "Great Sa" (ss)
- U+1040–U+1049: the 10 digits
- U+104A–U+104B: 2 punctuation marks (section signs)
- U+104C–U+104F: 4 other symbols (locative, completed, aforementioned, genitive)
The rest of the chart contains extensions for other languages:
- Bauer, Christian (1991). "Notes on Mon Epigraphy". Journal of the Siam Society 79 (1): 35.
- Christian, Bauer (1990). "Language and Ethnicity: The Mon in Burma and Thailand". In Gehan Wijeyewardene. Ethnic groups across national boundaries in mainland Southeast Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 17. ISBN 978-981-3035-57-7.
- Aung-Thwin, Michael (2005). The mists of Rāmañña: The Legend that was Lower Burma (illustrated ed.). Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 167–178, 197–200. ISBN 978-0-8248-2886-8.
- Lieberman, Victor B. (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7.
- Dho-ong Jhaan (2010-05-09). "Mon Consonants Characters". Retrieved 12 September 2010.
- Dho-ong Jhaan (2009-10-01). "Romanization for Mon Script by Transliteration Method". Retrieved 12 September 2010.