Burmese script

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Burmese script sample.svg
Script type
Time period
11th century - present
Directionleft-to-right Edit this on Wikidata
LanguagesBurmese, Shan, Mon, Karen, others
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924Mymr, 350 Edit this on Wikidata, ​Myanmar (Burmese)
Unicode alias

The Burmese script (မြန်မာအက္ခရာ) is the basis of the alphabets used for modern Burmese, Mon, Shan, Rakhine, Jingpho and Karen.[2]


A Pali manuscript of the Buddhist text Mahaniddesa showing three different styles of the Burmese script, (top) medium square, (centre) round and (bottom) outline round in red lacquer from the inside of one of the gilded covers

The Burmese script is an adaptation of the Pyu script,[3] or Old Mon script[4] and it is ultimately of South Indian origin, from either the Kadamba[3] or Pallava alphabet.[5] Burmese orthography originally followed a square block format, but the cursive format took hold from the 17th century when increased literacy and the resulting explosion of Burmese literature led to the wider use of palm leaves and folded paper known as parabaiks (ပုရပိုက်).[6]

The Burmese script has been adapted for use in writing other languages of Burma, most notably Shan, Mon (using a version of the script more similar to that used for Burmese than the original Old Mon script) and the S'gaw Karen language. It is also used for the liturgical languages of Pali and Sanskrit.[7]


The Burmese script was added to the Unicode Standard in September, 1999 with the release of version 3.0. Additional characters were added in subsequent releases.

Until 2005, most Burmese language websites used an image-based, dynamically-generated method to display Burmese characters, often in GIF or JPEG. At the end of 2005, the Burmese NLP Research Lab announced a Myanmar OpenType font named Myanmar1. This font contains not only Unicode code points and glyphs but also the OpenType Layout (OTL) logic and rules. Their research center is based in Myanmar ICT Park, Yangon. Padauk, which was produced by SIL International, is Unicode-compliant. Initially, it required a Graphite engine, though now OpenType tables for Windows are in the current version of this font. Since the release of the Unicode 5.1 Standard on 4 April 2008, three Unicode 5.1 compliant fonts have been available under public license, including Myanmar3, Padauk and Parabaik.[8]

Many Burmese font makers have created Burmese fonts including Win Innwa, CE Font, Myazedi, Zawgyi, Ponnya, Mandalay. It is important to note that these Burmese fonts are not Unicode compliant, because they use unallocated code points (including those for the Latin script) in the Burmese block to manually deal with shaping—that would normally be done by a complex text layout engine—and they are not yet supported by Microsoft and other major software vendors. However, there are few Burmese language websites that have switched to Unicode rendering, with many websites continuing[as of?] to use a pseudo-Unicode font called Zawgyi (which uses codepoints allocated for minority languages and does not efficiently render diacritics, such as the size of ya-yit) or the GIF/JPG display method.

Burmese Support in Microsoft Windows 8[edit]

Windows 8 includes a Unicode-compliant Burmese font named "Myanmar Text". Windows 8 also includes a Burmese keyboard layout.[citation needed] Due to the popularity of the font in this OS, Microsoft kept its support in Windows 10.


The Unicode block called Myanmar is U+1000–U+109F. It was added to the Unicode Standard in September 1999 with the release of version 3.0:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+100x က
1.^ As of Unicode version 14.0

The Unicode block called Myanmar Extended-A is U+AA60–U+AA7F. It was added to the Unicode Standard in October 2009 with the release of version 5.2:

Myanmar Extended-A[1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+AA7x ꩿ
1.^ As of Unicode version 14.0

The Unicode called Myanmar Extended-B is U+A9E0–U+A9FF. It was added to the Unicode Standard in June 2014 with the release of version 7.0:

Myanmar Extended-B[1][2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
1.^ As of Unicode version 14.0
2.^ Grey area indicates non-assigned code point

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Terwiel, B. J., & Wichasin, R. (eds.), (1992). Tai Ahoms and the stars: three ritual texts to ward off danger. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program.
  2. ^ Hosken, Martin. (2012). "Representing Myanmar in Unicode: Details and Examples" (ver. 4). Unicode Technical Note 11.
  3. ^ a b Aung-Thwin 2005, pp. 167–178, 197–200
  4. ^ Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. p. 307.
  5. ^ Aung-Thwin, Michael A. (2005). The Mon Paradigm and the Origins of the Burma Script. University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 154–178. ISBN 9780824828868. JSTOR j.ctt1wn0qs1.10.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Sawada, Hideo. (2013). "Some Properties of Burmese Script" Archived 2016-10-20 at the Wayback Machine. Presented at the 23rd Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (SEALS23), Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
  8. ^ Zawgyi.ORG Developer site Archived 7 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine