Burmese kinship

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The Burmese kinship system is a fairly complex system used to define family in the Burmese language.[1]

In the Burmese kinship system:[2]

  • Maternal and parental lineages are not distinguished, except for members of the parents' generations.
  • Relative age of a sibling relation is considered.
  • Gender of the relative is distinguished.
  • Generation from ego is indicated.

Grades of kinship[edit]

The Burmese kinship system identifies and recognizes six generations of direct ancestors, excluding the ego:[3]

  1. Be (ဘဲ) - great-grandfather's great-grandfather (6 generations removed)
  2. Bin (ဘင်) - great-grandfather's grandfather (5 generations removed)
  3. Bi (ဘီ) - great-grandfather's father (4 generations removed)
  4. Bay (ဘေး) - great-grandfather (3 generations removed)
  5. Pho (ဘိုး) - grandfather (2 generations removed)
  6. Phay (ဖေ) - father (1 generation removed)

The Burmese kinship system identifies seven generations of direct descendants, excluding the ego:[3]

  1. Tha (သား) - (1 generation removed)
  2. Myi (မြေး) - (2 generations removed)
  3. Myit (မြစ်) - (3 generations removed)
  4. Ti (တီ) - (4 generations removed)
  5. Tut (တွတ်) or Hmyaw (မျှော့) - (5 generations removed)
  6. Kyut (ကျွတ်) - (6 generations removed)
  7. Hset (ဆက်) - (7 generations removed)

Extended family and terminology[edit]

Kinship terms differ depending on the degree of formality, courtesy or intimacy. Also, there are regional differences in the terms used.

Common suffixes[edit]

  • female: (ma)
  • male: (hpa)

Burmese also possesses kin numeratives (in the form of suffixes):

  • eldest: ကြီး[4] (gyi) or အို[4] (oh)
  • second youngest: လတ်[4] (lat)
  • youngest: လေး[4] (lay), ထွေး[4] (htway), or ငယ်[4] (nge)

Relationships[edit]

The Burmese kinship system also recognizes various relationships between family members that are not found in English, including:[3]

  • တူအရီး (tu ayi) - relationship between uncle or aunt and nephew or niece
  • ခမည်းခမက် (khami khamet) - relationship between parents of a married couple
  • မယားညီအစ်ကို (maya nyi-ako) - relationship between the husbands of two sisters
  • သမီးမျောက်သား (thami myauk tha) - relationship between cousins, used in Arakanese language[5]

Members of the nuclear family[edit]

Relation Term Form of address English equivalent Notes
Father ဖခင်
pha khin
အဖေ a phay
ဖေဖေ phay phay
Father
Mother မိခင်
mi khin
အမေ a may
မေမေ may may
Mother
Elder brother
(male ego)
နောင်
naung
Brother
Elder brother
(female ego)
ကို
ko
Brother
Younger brother
(male ego)
ညီ
nyi
Brother
Younger brother
(female ego)
မောင်
maung
Brother
Older sister
ma
Sister
Younger sister
(male ego)
နှမ
hna ma
Sister
Younger sister
(female ego)
ညီမ
nyi ma
Sister
Husband လင်
lin
Husband Informal: ယောက်ျား (yaukkya). Formal: ခင်ပွန်း (khinbun).
Wife မယား
maya
Wife Informal: မိန်းမ (meinma). Formal: ဇနီး (zani).
Son သား
tha
Son
Daughter သမီး
thami
Daughter

Members of the extended family[edit]

Immediate lineage
Relation Term Form of address English equivalent Notes
Parent's father ဖိုး
pho
Grandfather
Parent's mother ဖွား
phwa
Grandmother
Father's elder brother ဘကြီး
ba gyi
Uncle
Father's younger brother ဘလေး
ba lay
Uncle The youngest uncle may be called ဘထွေး (ba dway).
Father's elder sister အရီးကြီး
ayi gyi
Aunt
Father's younger sister အရီးလေး
ayi lay
Aunt The youngest aunt may be called ထွေးလေး (dway lay).
Mother's elder brother ဦးကြီး
u gyi
Uncle ဝရီး (wayi) is now obsolete.
Mother's younger brother ဦးလေး
u lay
Uncle
Mother's elder sister ဒေါ်ကြီး
daw gyi
Aunt Also ကြီးတော် (kyidaw).
Mother's younger sister ဒေါ်လေး
daw lay
Aunt The youngest aunt may be called ထွေးလေး (dway lay).
First cousin မောင်နှမ တဝမ်းကွဲ
maung hnama ta wun gwe
First cousin Lit. "siblings one womb removed"
Nephews and nieces
Relation Term Form of address English equivalent Notes
Sibling's son တူ
tu
Nephew
Sibling's daughter တူမ
tuma
Niece
In-laws
Relation Term Form of address English equivalent Notes
Brother's wife
(female ego)
Husband's sister
ယောက်မ
yaungma
sister-in-law
Elder brother's wife
(male ego)
Wife's elder sister
မရီး
mayi
sister-in-law
Younger brother's wife
(male ego)
Wife's younger sister
ခယ်မ
khema
sister-in-law
Sister's husband
Husband's younger brother
Wife's brother
ယောက်ဖ
yaukpha
brother-in-law
Elder sister's husband
(female ego)
Husband's elder brother
ခဲအို
khe-oh
brother-in-law
Younger sister's husband
(female ego)
Husband's younger brother
မတ်
mat
brother-in-law
Son's wife ချွေးမ
chwayma
daughter-in-law
Daughter's husband သမက်
thamet
son-in-law
Spouse's father ယောက္ခထီး
yaukkahti
father-in-law
Spouse's mother ယောက္ခမ
yaukkhama
mother-in-law

References[edit]

  1. ^ မာလေး (1977). မြန်မာ့ဆွေမျိုးစပ် ဝေါဟာရများ (PDF) (in Burmese). စာပေဗိမာန်. 
  2. ^ Burling, Robbins (October 1965). "Burmese Kinship Terminology". American Anthropologist. American Anthropological Association. 67 (5): 106–117. doi:10.1525/aa.1965.67.5.02a00740. 
  3. ^ a b c Sein Tu (September 1997). "Myanma Family Roles and Social Relationships". Myanmar Perspectives. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Bradley, David (1989). "Uncles and Aunts: Burmese Kinship and Gender" (PDF). South-east Asian Linguisitics: Essays in Honour of Eugénie J.A. Henderson. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London: 147–162. 
  5. ^ Myanmar-English Dictionary. Myanmar Language Commission. 1993. ISBN 1-881265-47-1.