Burmese (draft)

Updated 23 April, 2022

This page brings together basic information about the Myanmar script and its use for the Burmese language. It doesn't cover use of the Burmese orthography for writing Pali. It aims to provide a brief, descriptive summary of the modern, printed orthography and typographic features, and to advise how to write Burmese using Unicode.


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အပိုဒ် ၁ လူတိုင်းသည် တူညီ လွတ်လပ်သော ဂုဏ်သိက္ခာဖြင့် လည်းကောင်း၊ တူညီလွတ်လပ်သော အခွင့်အရေးများဖြင့် လည်းကောင်း၊ မွေးဖွားလာသူများ ဖြစ်သည်။ ထိုသူတို့၌ ပိုင်းခြား ဝေဖန်တတ်သော ဉာဏ်နှင့် ကျင့်ဝတ် သိတတ်သော စိတ်တို့ရှိကြ၍ ထိုသူတို့သည် အချင်းချင်း မေတ္တာထား၍ ဆက်ဆံကျင့်သုံးသင့်၏။

အပိုဒ် ၂ လူတိုင်းသည် လူ့အခွင့် အရေး ကြေညာစာတမ်းတွင် ဖော်ပြထားသည့် အခွင့်အရေး အားလုံး၊ လွတ်လပ်ခွင့် အားလုံးတို့ကို ပိုင်ဆိုင် ခံစားခွင့်ရှိသည်။ လူမျိုးနွယ်အားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ အသားအရောင်အားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ ကျား၊ မ၊ သဘာဝအားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ ဘာသာစကားအားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ ကိုးကွယ်သည့် ဘာသာအားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ နိုင်ငံရေးယူဆချက်၊ သို့တည်းမဟုတ် အခြားယူဆချက်အားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ နိုင်ငံနှင့် ဆိုင်သော၊ သို့တည်းမဟုတ် လူမှုအဆင့်အတန်းနှင့် ဆိုင်သော ဇစ်မြစ် အားဖြင့်ဖြစ်စေ၊ ပစ္စည်း ဥစ္စာ ဂုဏ်အားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ မျိုးရိုးဇာတိအားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ၊ အခြား အဆင့်အတန်း အားဖြင့် ဖြစ်စေ ခွဲခြားခြင်းမရှိစေရ။ ထို့ပြင် လူတစ်ဦး တစ်ယောက် နေထိုင်ရာ နိုင်ငံ၏ သို့တည်းမဟုတ် နယ်မြေဒေသ၏ နိုင်ငံရေးဆိုင်ရာ ဖြစ်စေ စီရင် ပိုင်ခွင့်ဆိုင်ရာ ဖြစ်စေ တိုင်းပြည် အချင်းချင်း ဆိုင်ရာဖြစ်စေ၊ အဆင့်အတန်း တစ်ခုခုကို အခြေပြု၍ သော်လည်းကောင်း၊ ဒေသနယ်မြေတစ်ခုသည် အချုပ်အခြာ အာဏာပိုင် လွတ်လပ်သည့် နယ်မြေ၊ သို့တည်းမဟုတ် ကုလသမဂ္ဂ ထိန်းသိမ်း စောင့်ရှောက် ထားရသည့် နယ်မြေ၊ သို့တည်းမဟုတ် ကိုယ်ပိုင် အုပ်ချုပ်ခွင့် အာဏာတို့ တစိတ်တဒေသလောက်သာ ရရှိသည့် နယ်မြေ စသဖြင့် ယင်းသို့ သော နယ်မြေများ ဖြစ်သည်၊ ဖြစ်သည် ဟူသော အကြောင်းကို အထောက်အထား ပြု၍ သော်လည်းကောင်း ခွဲခြားခြင်း လုံးဝ မရှိစေရ။

Usage & history

The Myanmar script is used to write Burmese and, with various extensions and adaptations, for other languages in the region, such as Mon, Karen, Kayah, Shan, and Palaung. It is also used to write Pali and Sanskrit.

မြန်မာအက္ခရာ mjàɴmà ʔɛʔkʰa̰jà Burmese alphabet

A descendant of the Brahmi script, via Pallava and Old Mon, early evidence of the Myanmar script dates back to around the 10th century. What were originally square shapes evolved around the 17th century to become the rounded forms we see today, supposedly to improve writing techniques on palm leaves.

Sources: Scriptsource, Wikipedia.

Basic features

The script is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden, where needed, using vowel signs. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features for the modern Burmese orthography.

Myanmar text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Spaces separate phrases, rather than words.

The 26 consonant letters used for pure Burmese words are supplemented by 9 more which are used in Pali loan words.

Consonant stacking is used in multi-syllabic words (mostly derived from Pali) to indicate doubled or homorganic consonant clusters. Subjoined (subscripted) forms are produced using a dedicated, invisible virama character. Conjuncts do not span word boundaries.

Syllable-initial clusters use 4 dedicated combining marks for the medial. Aspirated onset consonants are common: some have dedicated letters, others are indicated with a subjoined h.

Syllable-final consonant sounds use ordinary characters with a visible mark called asat to indicate that the inherent vowel is killed. There is also one dedicated final consonant (the anusvara).

The Burmese orthography has an inherent vowel, and uses vowel-signs. Vowels use 8 combining marks (including 1 pre-base) and 2 consonant letters.

This page lists just 6 composite vowels (made from 5 vowel signs, and 2 consonants/diacritics). Composite vowels can involve up to 3 glyphs, and glyphs can surround the base consonant(s) on up to 2 sides.

The pronunciation of some vowel graphemes may vary in open and closed syllables.

Standalone vowels are normally written using vowel-signs applied to [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A], but may also be represented by an incomplete set of 7 independent vowels, mostly used for Pali or Sanskrit words.

Burmese has 4 tones, one of which is used exclusively in closed syllables. The tone of an open syllable can be indicated by the vowel used, or by combining a vowel and one of 2 combining marks. In a couple of instances an asat is used to indicate tone information, rather than attaching a tone mark.

Character index



Basic consonants


Pali loan words


Independent vowels


Combining marks









Invisible stacker

Pure killer








Items to show in lists


The Burmese language is tonal and many native Burmese words are monosyllabic.

Syllables can start with a consonant or initial vowel. An initial consonant may be followed by a medial consonant, which adds the sound j or w. After the vowel, a syllable may end with a nasalisation of the vowel or an unreleased glottal stop, though these final sounds can be represented by various different consonant symbols.

In multisyllabic words derived from an Indian language such as Pali, where two consonants occur internally with no intervening vowel, the consonants tend to be stacked vertically, and the asat sign is not used.

Orthographic syllables

Algorithms for manipulating text at a sub-word level use orthographic syllable boundaries, rather than phonetic syllable boundaries.

The boundaries of an orthographic syllable may differ from those of a phonetic syllable, particularly in the presence of a conjunct. For more details, see graphemes.

ဣန္ဒြေ      ဣန္ဒြေ
The same word, split into phonetic syllables (left) and orthgraphic syllables (right). (Click to see the composition.)


Click on the sounds to see where else in the document they are referred to.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Wikipedia.

Vowel sounds

Plain vowels

i ĩ u ũ e o ə ə ɛ ɔ a ã


u̯a u̯ɛ u̯e ẽɪ õʊ əɨ əɨ ãɪ ãʊ

Some of the above sounds can only occur in open syllables, others only in closed syllables. As a rough rule, the plain vowels occur in open syllables, and the diphthongs in closed.

The sound ə only occurs in minor syllables, and is the only sound occurring in those syllables.

Vocalic weakening

A process called vocalic weakening affects the first syllables of certain words (mostly nouns and adverbs), eg. ထမင် is pronounced tʰəmɪ̀ɴ, not tʰa̰mɪ̀ɴ; ဘုရား is pronounced pʰəjá, not pʰṵjá.

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
palatal velar glottal
stops p b t d       k ɡ ʔ
affricates       t͡ʃ d͡ʒ      
apirated       t͡ʃʰ      
fricatives   θ ð s z ʃ     h
nasals m   n   ɲ ɲ̊ ŋ ŋ̊
approximants w ʍ   l   j  
trills/flaps     r  


Dashes are used to indicate whether the character represents a vowel sound in a closed or an open syllable.

Vowel sounds mapped to characters

This section maps Burmese vowel sounds to common graphemes in the Myanmar orthography, grouped by open ( o ), or closed ( c ) syllables, or as a standalone vowel ( s ).. Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

Plain vowels


[U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I] (creaky tone), eg. အဘိဓာန်.

[U+102E MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN II] (low tone), eg.  စေတီ

ီး [U+102E MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN II + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. မီး.

Inherent vowel followed by စ် s.


[U+1024 MYANMAR LETTER II], eg. . Used in a few words only (typically Indian loan words). 

[U+1023 MYANMAR LETTER I]. Ditto.


Inherent vowel, followed by –ည် i, –စ် ɪʔ, or one of –င်, –ဉ် ɪɴ , eg. ညည်း, နှစ်, ဝင်.


[U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U] (creaky tone), eg. ဟင်းနုနွယ်.

[U+1030 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN UU] (low tone), eg. တူ.

ူး [U+1030 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN UU + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. ဗုဒ္ဓဟူးနေ့.



[U+1025 MYANMAR LETTER U], eg. . Used in a few words only (typically Indian loan words). 

[U+1026 MYANMAR LETTER UU], eg. ဦး.  Ditto.




[U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E] (low tone), eg. မြေပုံ.

ေ့ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. ရှေ့.

ေ့ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (high tone), eg. ဆေးရုံ.  


Inherent vowel, followed by –ည်.


[U+1027 MYANMAR LETTER E], eg. ဧက. Used in a few words only (typically Indian loan words). 


ို [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U] (low tone), eg. အညို.

ို့ [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. နို့နဲ့.

ိုး [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. ဆိုး.


[U+1032 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AI] (high tone), eg. ခဲတံ.

ဲ့ [U+1032 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AI + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. ပြီခဲ့တဲ့လ.

ယ် [U+101A MYANMAR LETTER YA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT] (low tone), eg. ဘယ်.


Inherent vowel, followed by –ည် or -က် ɛʔ, eg. စက္ကူ


ော [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA] (high tone), eg. ထောပတ်သီး.


ော့ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. ပျော့တယ်.

ေါ့ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. ပေါ့တယ်

ော် [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT] (low tone), eg. ပျော်တယ်.

ေါ် [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT] (low tone), eg. ဒေါ်လေး


[U+1029 MYANMAR LETTER O], eg. ဩဂုတ်. Used in a few words only (typically Indian loan words).


Unstressed vowels, eg. ဖိနပ်.


Inherent vowel (creaky tone), eg. သဿ.

[U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA] (low tone), eg. ဆရာ.

[U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA] (low tone), eg. တံဂါ

ား [U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. နွား.

ါး [U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. တံခါး


Inherent vowel, followed by one of –တ်, –ပ်, or one of –န်, –မ်, –ံ, eg. ဖတ်, ပန်း.


[U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A], eg. အရိပ်, in open syllables.

အာ [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA], eg. အားကစား.



ိ◌ [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I] (low tone), eg. အိမ်.

ိ​့ [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone).

ိ​း [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. တစ်သိန်း


အိ [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A + U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I], eg. အိန္ဒိယ.

[U+1023 MYANMAR LETTER I], eg. ဣန္ဒြေ. Loan words or literary style.


ု◌ [U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U] (low tone), eg. ရန်ကုန်.

ု​့ [U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. မုန့်ဆိုင်.

ု​း [U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. သုံး


ို◌ [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U] (low tone), eg. ဆိုင်.


ို​း [U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I + U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. ထိုင်းနိုင်ဂံ.


ော◌ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA] (low tone), eg. ကြောင်.

ေါ◌ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA] (low tone), eg. သန်းခေါင်

ော​့ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. စောင့်တယ်.

ေါ​့ [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA + U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW] (creaky tone), eg. ပေါ့တယ်

ော​း [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. ကျောင်း.

ေါ​း [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA + U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA] (high tone), eg. ခေါင်း.


အော [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A + U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA] (low tone), eg. အောက်တိုဘာ.


[U+102A MYANMAR LETTER AU] (low tone), in some words, particularly Indian loan words or words in the literary style.

Inherent vowel

In open syllables the inherent vowel is usually transcribed and pronounced in Burmese as a, but very often reduced phonetically to ə. So ka is written by simply using the consonant letter က [U+1000 MYANMAR LETTER KA].

In closed syllables, the inherent vowel is pronounced as one of ɪ, e, a, or ɛ, depending on the final consonant that follows, eg. နှစ်


Non-inherent vowel sounds that follow a consonant can be represented using vowel-signs, eg. ki is written ကိ [U+1000 MYANMAR LETTER KA + U+102D MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN I].

An orthography that uses vowel-signs is different from one that uses simple diacritics or letters for vowels in that the vowel-signs are generally attached to the syllable, rather than just applied to the letter of the immediately preceding consonant. This means that pre-base vowel-signs and the left glyph of circumgraphs appears before a whole consonant cluster if it is rendered as a conjunct (see prescript_vowels). Vowel-signs may be used on their own, or in combination with others (see composite_vowels).

Burmese vowel-signs are all combining characters. All vowel-signs are stored after the base consonant, and the glyph rendering system takes care of the positioning at display time. Some input systems may allow the user to type the pre-base vowel before the base consonant, but it is still stored after.

Three vowel-signs are spacing marks, meaning that they consume horizontal space when added to a base consonant.

The pronunciation of the vowel-sign often depends on whether it appears in an open or closed syllable, eg. compare the following, which are open and closed, respectively ဆိုး ဆိုင် Open syllables typically contain plain vowels, while closed ones contain diphthongs.

The 'primary' vowels have 'short' and 'long' written forms that hark back to the earlier Indic script origins, but the distinction is used nowadays for indicating different tones only. For example, compare the tones in the open syllables at the beginning of these 2 words မိနစ် မီ

Combining marks used for vowels

Burmese uses the following dedicated combining marks for vowels.


[U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA] is just an alternative shape for [U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA]. See shape_variants.

[U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT] is more typically used to indicate a final consonant in a syllable, but it is used as part of several composite vowels

Consonants pronounced as vowels


In closed syllables when followed by the inherent vowel, [U+103D MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL WA] may be pronounced as the vowel ʊ, rather than the glide w, eg. နွမ်း

[U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A] on its own represents the standalone version of the inherent vowel, ʔa.   It is used as a base for other standalone vowels.

[U+101A MYANMAR LETTER YA] is used as part of a composite vowel, eg. စံပယ်

Pre-base vowel-sign

Burmese has only one vowel-sign that appears to the left of the base consonant letter or cluster, eg. မြေပုံ

This is a combining mark that is always stored after the base consonant. The font places the glyph before the base consonant.

A consonant cluster is treated as a unit when it comes to vowel-signs, for example in the following word the E is displayed to the left of the NGA although the character appears after the WA in memory အငွေ့

Some input methods may allow the user to type this vowel before the consonant, whereas others will expect it to be typed after, per the stored order.

Composite vowels

Vowels represented by combinations of the above characters:


In the sequence ော် [U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT], the asat is added to indicate the low tone. Otherwise, it is the same vowel.

Show which combinations contain a given character:
Show details about vowel glyph positioning.

The following list shows where vowel-signs are positioned (by default) around a base consonant to produce vowels, and how many instances of that pattern there are. Numbers after the + sign represent combinations of vowel-signs.

  • 1 prescript, eg. ကေ ke
  • 2 postscript, eg. ကာ ka
  • 3 superscript, eg. ကိ ki kḭ
  • 2 subscript, eg. ကု ku kṵ
  • +2 pre+postscript, eg. ကော kea kɔ́
  • +1 super+subscript, eg. ကို kiu
  • +1 post+postscript, eg. ကယ် kyˣ kɛ̀
  • +2 pre+post+superscript, eg. ကော် keaˣ kɔ̀

The special long forms of [U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U​] and [U+1030 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN UU​], used when there is not enough room for them below a cluster are produced by the font.

Characters that don't appear in the combinations:


Standalone vowels



Myanmar represents standalone vowel sounds using [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A] as a base for vowel-signs, eg. အိတ် This is classed as a consonant rather than a vowel by the Burmese, and carries the inherent vowel when used alone, eg. အတန်း

Typically, Burmese adds vowel-signs to the glottal stop consonant to indicate standalone vowels.
This is အုန်းသီး.

Independent vowels


Myanmar also has a set of independent vowel letters used to represent standalone vowels, but only in certain words – typically Indian loan words, eg. ဧရာဝတီ ဩဂုတ်

Each letter represents a specific vowel+tone combination (see the accent marks in the list above). Not all vowel+tones combinations are represented.

Use of an independent vowel letter for a standalone vowel sound.
This is ဩဂုတ်.

Sequences of characters can be combined to look like a few of the independent vowels, eg. သြော် [U+101E MYANMAR LETTER SA + U+103C MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL RA + U+1031 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN E + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT] can look very similar to or the same as [U+102A MYANMAR LETTER AU]. The Unicode Standard strongly recommends to only use the single code point for each independent vowel. See encoding_choices.

Shape variants

Tall AA. There are two forms of the -a vowel sign in Burmese. The combination ဝာ [U+101D MYANMAR LETTER WA + U+102C MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN AA] (wa) can be hard to distinguish from [U+1010 MYANMAR LETTER TA], so a taller glyph is used for the vowel to avoid confusion, ie. ဝါ [U+101D MYANMAR LETTER WA + U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA]. This glyph, whether alone or as part of a complex vowel, is used after the following consonants:


For example, ပေါင် Where there is no ambiguity, however, the normal shape is used, eg. ပြောင်းဖူး

Whereas in Unicode 5.0 the choice of appropriate form was left to the font or implementation during rendering, such contextual decisions are not appropriate for Sgaw Karen and other minority scripts, which only use the tall form, so [U+102B MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN TALL AA​] was added to Unicode 5.1 as a separate character, and needs to be typed explicitly.u,648

Displaced U vowel-signs. The vowel signs [U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U​] and [U+1030 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN UU​], which normally appear below a consonant, are displayed to the right if something else intrudes on that space. Examples include

There are no special characters for these forms. The shape is produced automatically by the font.


Burmese is a contour tone language, with four tones: creaky, low, high and stopped. The tones involve more than simple pitch variations.

Diagram of tones.

Myanmar tones.m,7

Syllables ending with a stop consonant (always pronounced ʔ) always use the stopped tone, and no others.

Syllables that end with a vowel sound or the nasal sound (always pronounced ɴ) have one of the other three tones.

The following table provides typical phonological transcriptions and descriptions for the four tones, using a as the base for the examples.wbl,#Tones

stoppedaăʔ˥˧ short duration, high intensity, high pitch, final glottal stop
creakyaˀ˥˧ medium duration, high intensity, high pitch, often slightly falling
higháaː˥˥˦ long duration, high intensity, high pitch, often with fall before pause, sometimes breathy
lowàaː˧˧˦ medium duration, low intensity, low pitch, often slightly rising

Marking tone

As previously mentioned, the stopped tone only occurs in checked syllables, and always occurs in such syllables. The tone is not marked, unless you count the asat as a marker, eg. ကတ်

Open syllables, however, show more variety. The tone of a syllable can be indicated by the vowel used, by combining a vowel and one of the following combining marks, or by a couple of special sequences.


There are 7 main vowel sounds in open syllables. The following table lists those sounds and how the tone information is expressed with the consonant KA.

creaky low high example
i short form ကိ long form ကီ long+visarga ကီး မီး
u short form ကု long form ကူ long+visarga ကူး တူ
e dot below ကေ့ no mark ကေ visarga ကေး နှေး
o dot below ကို့ no mark ကို visarga ကိုး ဆိုး
ɛ dot below ကဲ့ killed-y ကယ် no mark ကဲ ဘယ်
ɔ dot below ကော့ asat ကော် no mark ကော ပျော်
a inherent vowel က no mark ကာ visarga အား လာ

Independent vowel letters are all specific to a particular tone.

creaky low high


Consonant sounds to characters

This section maps Burmese consonant sounds to common graphemes in the Myanmar orthography. Click on a grapheme to find other mentions on this page (links appear at the bottom of the page). Click on the character name to see examples and for detailed descriptions of the character(s) shown.

Sounds listed as 'infrequent' are allophones, or sounds used for foreign words, Sanskrit, etc.



[U+1015 MYANMAR LETTER PA], eg. ပိုက်ဆံ.


[U+1017 MYANMAR LETTER BA],  eg. ဗိုက်ဆာတယ်.

[U+1018 MYANMAR LETTER BHA],  eg. ဘဲ.

[U+1015 MYANMAR LETTER PA], eg. ပုဂံ, where affected by sandhi.

[U+1016 MYANMAR LETTER PHA], eg. ပြောင်းဖူး, where affected by sandhi.


[U+1016 MYANMAR LETTER PHA], eg. ဖိနပ်.

[U+1018 MYANMAR LETTER BHA],  sometimes at the beginning of words or particles, eg. ဘုရား.


[U+1010 MYANMAR LETTER TA], eg. တက်.

[U+100B MYANMAR LETTER TTA]. Mostly archaic, used for Pali.

[U+100C MYANMAR LETTER TTHA]. Mostly archaic, used for Pali.


[U+1012 MYANMAR LETTER DA],  eg. ဒေါ်လေး.

[U+1013 MYANMAR LETTER DHA],  eg. ဓာတ်.

[U+1010 MYANMAR LETTER TA], eg. သတင်းစာ, where affected by sandhi.

[U+1011 MYANMAR LETTER THA], eg. အကျဉ်းထောင်, where affected by sandhi, but sometimes also word-initial.

[U+100D MYANMAR LETTER DDA]. Mostly archaic, used for Pali.

[U+100E MYANMAR LETTER DDHA]. Mostly archaic, used for Pali.


[U+1011 MYANMAR LETTER THA], eg. ထီး.


က [U+1000 MYANMAR LETTER KA], eg. ကား.


[U+1002 MYANMAR LETTER GA], eg. ဂဏန်း.

က [U+1000 MYANMAR LETTER KA], eg. တကယ်ပါ, where affected by sandhi.

[U+1001 MYANMAR LETTER KHA], eg. ပြီးခဲ့တဲ့လ, where affected by sandhi.

[U+1003 MYANMAR LETTER GHA], rare, primarily used in words of Pali origin.


[U+1001 MYANMAR LETTER KHA], eg. ခေါက်ဆွဲ.


[U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A], eg. အုတ်

–ပ [U+1015 MYANMAR LETTER PA], eg. သိပ်, when final.

–တ [U+1010 MYANMAR LETTER TA], eg. အိတ်, when final.

–က [U+1000 MYANMAR LETTER KA], eg. ဘက်, when final.




[U+1015 MYANMAR LETTER PA]. For foreign sounds.


[U+1017 MYANMAR LETTER BA]. For foreign sounds.

ဗွ [U+1017 MYANMAR LETTER BA + U+103D MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL WA],  eg. တီဗွီ. For foreign sounds.


[U+101E MYANMAR LETTER SA], eg. သိုး.



[U+101E MYANMAR LETTER SA], eg. ပန်းသီး, where affected by sandhi.


[U+1005 MYANMAR LETTER CA], eg. စာအှပ်.


[U+1007 MYANMAR LETTER JA], eg. ဇွန်း.

[U+1008 MYANMAR LETTER JHA], eg. စျေး, rare.

[U+1005 MYANMAR LETTER CA], eg. စေတီ, when affected by sandhi, but also irregularly in initial position.


[U+1006 MYANMAR LETTER CHA],  eg. ထမင်းဆိုင်. when affected by sandhi.


[U+1006 MYANMAR LETTER CHA], eg. ဆိုင်.


[U+101F MYANMAR LETTER HA], eg. ဟုတ်ကဲ့.





[U+1019 MYANMAR LETTER MA], eg. မာ.


[U+1014 MYANMAR LETTER NA], eg. နာရီ.

[U+100F MYANMAR LETTER NNA], eg. ဂဏန်း. Mostly archaic, used for Pali.


[U+100A MYANMAR LETTER NNYA]. eg. ညာ. (Silent in final position.)


[U+1004 MYANMAR LETTER NGA],  eg. ငါး.


–င [U+1004 MYANMAR LETTER NGA], eg. ဝင်, when final.

–ဉ [U+1009 MYANMAR LETTER NYA], eg. လေယာဉ်, when final.

–မ [U+1019 MYANMAR LETTER MA], eg. အိမ်, when final.

[U+1036 MYANMAR SIGN ANUSVARA],  eg. သုံး.



[U+101D MYANMAR LETTER WA], eg. ဝန်ကြီး.





[U+101B MYANMAR LETTER RA], in loan words, eg. ရေဒီယို.


[U+101C MYANMAR LETTER LA], eg. လွတ်လပ်.

[U+1020 MYANMAR LETTER LLA], eg. စကြဝဠာ. Rare.


[U+101A MYANMAR LETTER YA], eg. ယောက်ျား.

[U+101B MYANMAR LETTER RA],  eg. ရေ.

[U+103B MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL YA],  eg. ပျော်. Medial.


Basic Burmese consonants

Native Burmese words use a subset of the consonants that make up the traditional articulatory arrangement of indic scripts.


Other consonant sounds

Foreign consonant sounds

Some Burmese conventions exist for representing foreign sounds. f is (usually ), v is (usually b) or ဗွ (usually bw), eg. တီဗွီ

A foriegn syllable final sound can be rendered by placing a second killed consonant after the syllable, sometimes in parentheses, eg. ဘတ်(စ်)

Pali loans

The following additional consonants are mainly used for Pali loan words.


Additional symbols are available for use in loan words, especially Indian loan words. These include the retroflex and voiced aspirated consonants.


Unvoiced syllable initial consonants are typically pronounced with voicing when they appear in non-initial syllables of a word or in particle suffixes, unless they follow a syllable with stopped tone or follow the [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A] prefix. Aspirated consonants lose their aspiration at the same time. For example, သတင်းစာ farmer is pronounced θədɪ́ɴzà not θətɪ́ɴsà. However, because of the rule about the stopped tone (ie. a syllable ending in a plosive consonant), တစ်ဆယ် ten is pronounced təʔsʰɛ̀ not təʔzɛ̀.

Note that care needs to be taken with compound words, since they contain more than one word-initial syllable, eg. နားထောင် listen is pronounced nátʰàʊɴ not nádàʊɴ .m,175-6

There is also an irregular pattern of voicing initial consonants, particularly with place names. Mesher provides examples of words beginning with [U+1005 MYANMAR LETTER CA] [U+1015 MYANMAR LETTER PA] [U+1010 MYANMAR LETTER TA] and [U+1011 MYANMAR LETTER THA], eg. စေတီ table is pronounced zèdì not sèdì ; ပုဂံ Pagan/Bagan is pronounced bəgàɴ not pəgàɴ; ထားဝယ် Tavoy/Dawei is pronounced dəwɛ̀ not tʰəwɛ̀.m,251

Consonant clusters

Consonant stacking

In many multi-syllabic words (mostly derived from Pali), consonants that have no intervening inherent vowel are arranged such that the consonant cluster is stacked. Stacked consonants of this kind are always doubled consonants or homorganic.wbs,#Stacked_consonants

The second consonant appears below the first, eg. မန္တလေး ဗုဒ္ဓ In some cases the lower character is abbreviated or reoriented, eg. က္ဌ to represent က်ဌ.

This effect is achieved by using the character [U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA] between the consonants forming the cluster.

The virama is never visible.

Consonants may also be stacked in abbreviations of native Burmese words, in which case they may not be homorganic and vowels may be pronounced between the consonants. For example, လက်ဖက် is sometimes abbreviatedwbs,#Stacked_consonants to လ္ဘက် l͓ḃkˣ

Consonant repetition

Where the same consonant appears at the end of a syllable and the beginning of a new syllable in the same word they are commonly represented in the usual cluster form, eg. ပိန္နဲသီး

In a few Burmese words, however, a doubled consonant is represented by a single consonant plus asat, eg. ယောက်ျား ကျွန်ုပ် Note how this produces a situation where an asat is used between a consonant and a medial or vowel sign.h

A repeated [U+101E MYANMAR LETTER SA] can be represented using [U+103F MYANMAR LETTER GREAT SA]. In modern Burmese, appears within words, whereas သ်သ is used across word boundaries.l,3


When the first consonant in a consonant cluster is a non-word-final [U+1004 MYANMAR LETTER NGA] it rises over the following letter and keeps its virama, rather than pushing the following consonant below it, eg. အင်္ဂလန် This is called 'kinzi' (ကင်းစီး kɪ́ɴzí).

To achieve this, use the sequence င်္ [U+1004 MYANMAR LETTER NGA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT + U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA], then continue with the next letter.

Onset consonants

Unicode has the following, dedicated combining characters for the second letter in a syllable-onset cluster. The virama should not be used.


The following panel lists a number of syllable-onset clusters which are not pronounced as you might expect.


Medial YA and RA. [U+103B MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL YA] and [U+103C MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL RA] are both pronounced j by default, eg. ပျော် ပြည်

However, when preceded by a velar stop these characters produce palatalisation as tɕ, tɕʰ, dʑ, ɲ, eg. ကျောင်း ကြက် ဂျပန်

Medial HA. [U+103E MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL HA] is used to create aspirated versions of consonants, eg. မှာ See aspiration for more details. It also creates the sound ʃ in the combinations ရှ [U+101B MYANMAR LETTER RA + U+103E MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL HA] and လျှ [U+101C MYANMAR LETTER LA + U+103B MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL YA + U+103E MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL HA] eg. ရှိတယ်

The -h medial is typically transcribed before the letter it modifies, unlike the order of characters as typed or stored in memory. For example, မြွှ [U+1019 MYANMAR LETTER MA + U+103C MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL RA + U+103D MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL WA + U+103E MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL HA] (pronounced m̥w) is transcribed hmrw. For more information about character order, see cporder.

Medial WA. [U+103D MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL WA] represents the w glide, eg. နွား

However, it may also represent the vowel ʊ (see vowelsigns).

Multiple medials. It is possible to find 2 or 3 medials in an onset cluster, eg. (click on words to see components) လျှာ လျှင် မြွေ

Aspirated consonants

Burmese aspirates many consonants. In some cases these are separate characters, in other cases the aspiration is indicated using [U+103E MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL HA​]. Aspirated sounds include the followingm,12, where the last six use MEDIAL HA.


For example words, see consonant_mappings.

Pali, Sanskrit, and other medials

Pali and Sanskrit texts written in the Myanmar script, as well as in older orthographies of Burmese, sometimes render the consonants YA, RA, WA and HA in subjoined form. In those cases, U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA and the regular form of the consonant are used.u,647

The old spelling of many words uses a fifth medial consonant, la swe, eg. ခ္လိုဝ်း kʰ͓liuwˣ² washwhich is produced using just a subjoined l, ie. ္လ [U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA + U+101C MYANMAR LETTER LA].

Final consonants

In native Burmese, 9 characters (5 nasals, င ဉ ည န မ NGA, NYA, NNYA, NA and MA, and 4 stops, က စ တ ပ KA, CA, TA, PA) appear in syllable final position.

In final position, nasals are pronounced as a nasalization of the previous vowel, eg. ရင် and all stops are pronounced ʔ, eg. မတ်

Syllable-final consonants carry a visible mark called asat (အသတ် ʔa̰θaʔ) to indicate that the inherent vowel is killed, eg. စက်တင်ဘာ

[U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT​] is a character introduced in Unicode version 5.1 for this purpose. It is always visible, and does not produce stacking.

Some syllables ending in nasal consonants use [U+1036 MYANMAR SIGN ANUSVARA] rather than the ordinary consonant sign, eg. compare သိမ်း သုံး

(Note that the ASAT is also used in 3 composite vowels to produce specific vowel+tone combinations. See composite_vowels.)

Changes in Unicode 5.1


In Unicode 5.0, [U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT​] did not exist, and [U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA] had to be used for both visible and non-visible viramas. This approach was problematic in that, since there are no spaces between words, it is not easy to automatically ascertain whether a virama should appear above a consonant or cause the stacking effect. For example, should my sequence of characters appear like this, အမ်မီတာ, or like this အမ္မီတာ? To get around this in Unicode 5.0 you needed to use a [U+200C ZERO WIDTH NON-JOINER] (ZWNJ) after the virama if you wanted it to remain visible (ie. the first example above would have been transcribed as ʔmˣmïta and the second as ʔm͓mïta). The non-joiner prevents stacking. In practice, this meant that there were very many ZWNJ characters in Burmese text, since there are many syllable-final consonants needing ASAT, and typing in the Myanmar script was therefore much more time-consuming than it needed to be.

Unicode 5.1 also introduced dedicated medial consonants. This makes it easier to type Myanmar text, but also allows for easy distinction of subjoined variants of these consonants rather than the usual medial forms.

One or two other characters were introduced, such as the TALL AA.

Encoding choices

Myanmar is a script where different sequences of Unicode characters may produce the same visual result.

Independent vowels

It is strongly recommended to use the single code points on the left, rather than the sequences on the right, because they are not made the same by normalisation. Therefore the content will be regarded as different, which will affect searching and other operations on the text.

Code point Deprecated combination

In the following case, the precomposed character decomposes in NFD, and re-forms again in NFC. It is generally recommended to use the precomposed character, but both forms are canonically equivalent.

Precomposed Decomposed

Additional phonetic details

This section provides more detailed information about the pronunciation of rhymes in Burmese.

Show the detail.


A vowel plus tone combination is called a rhyme.

The following table shows the normal combinations of vowel, final consonant and tone mark characters that are seen in Burmese, and their pronunciations. Read down the left column to find the symbol used for the vowel sound, and across the top row to find syllable final consonants. The table doesn't take vowel reduction into account.

  open က် စ် တ် ပ် င် ည် ဉ် န် မ်
- a̰, ə ɛʔ ɪʔ ɪ̀ɴ ì, è, ɛ̀ ɪ̀ɴ àɴ àɴ àɴ
+ ့           ɪ̰ɴ ḭ, ḛ, ɛ̰ ɪ̰ɴ a̰ɴ a̰ɴ a̰ɴ
+ း           ɪ́ɴ í, é, ɛ́ ɪ́ɴ áɴ áɴ áɴ
ာ/ါ à                    
+ ့                      
+ း á                    
ယ် ɛ̀                    
+ ့                      
+ း                      
ိ (ဣ)     eɪʔ eɪʔ       èɪɴ èɪɴ èɪɴ
+ ့                 ḛɪɴ ḛɪɴ ḛɪɴ
+ း                 éɪɴ éɪɴ éɪɴ
ီ (ဤ) ì                    
+ ့                      
+ း í                    
ု (ဥ)     oʊʔ oʊʔ       òʊɴ òʊɴ òʊɴ
+ ့                 o̰ʊɴ o̰ʊɴ o̰ʊɴ
+ း                 óʊɴ óʊɴ óʊɴ
ူ (ဦ) ù                    
+ ့                      
+ း ú                    
ေ (ဧ) è                    
+ ့                    
+ း (ဧး) é                    
+ ့ ɛ̰                    
+ း                      
ော/ေါ (ဩ) ɔ́ aʊʔ       àʊɴ          
+ ့ ɔ̰         a̰ʊɴ          
+ း           áʊɴ          
ော်/ေါ် (ဪ) ɔ̀                    
+ ့                      
+ း                      
ို ò aɪʔ       àɪɴ          
+ ့         a̰ɪɴ          
+ း ó         áɪɴ          
      ʊʔ ʊʔ       ʊ̀ɴ ʊ̀ɴ  
+ ့                 ʊ̰ɴ ʊ̰ɴ  
+ း                 ʊ́ɴ ʊ́ɴ  

Vowels in open syllables

There are 7 main vowel sounds in open syllables. The following lists those sounds and their different representations for the three tones in Burmese, creaky, low and high, that apply to open syllables. (Combining symbols are shown with , and alternate independent forms are shown in parentheses.)

description low high creaky example
a Primary central အာ အား inherent လာ come
i Primary front အီ အီး () အိ () မီး fire
u Primary back အူ () အူး အု () တူ chopsticks
e High front mid အေ အေး () အေ့ နှေး n̥é slow
o High back mid အို အိုး အို့ ဆိုး sʰó bad
ɛ Low front mid အယ် အဲ အဲ့ ဘယ် bɛ̀ which
ɔ Low back mid အော် () အော () အော့ ပျော် pjɔ̀ happy

The following table summarises the above in a way that allows you to see how the various tones are applied to open syllables using the native Myanmar characters. Where long vs. short forms exist, for the purposes of clarity in the table, the long form is taken here to be the standard form and the short form a variant.

low high creaky
a no mark visarga inherent vowel
i no mark visarga short form
u no mark visarga short form
e no mark visarga dot below
o no mark visarga dot below
ɛ killed-y form no mark dot below
ɔ asat no mark dot below

Vowels in closed syllables

Vowels in 'closed' syllables end in a glottal stop or nasalisation. Historically, however, they ended in one of four nasals or four stops, and this is still reflected in the orthography. The vowel quality has also evolved in these syllables, typically producing diphthongs.

To indicate that the consonant is syllable-final, an asat is placed over it.

The sound values of vowel signs used in open and closed syllables differs systematically as follows.

i becomes , eg. အိန် ʔèɪɴ; အိတ် ʔeɪʔ.

u becomes , eg.အုန် ʔòʊɴ; အုတ် ʔoʊʔ.

ɔ becomes aʊ, eg. အောင် ʔàʊɴ; အောက် ʔaʊʔ.

o becomes , eg. အိုင် ʔàɪɴ; အိုက် ʔaɪʔ.

The inherent a is a lot more complicated, becoming one of ɪ, e, a, or ɛ.

The list of most common sounds are show in the large table above, and in the smaller tables below. There are other combinations of vowel and final consonant found in Burmese words of Indian origin, which often stick to the original Indian spelling, however, they tend to follow Burmese pronunciation, eg. ဓာတ် daʔ, ဗိုလ် , ဥယ္ယာဉ် ʔṵjaɴ.

Vowels in closed syllables ending in nasals

The following table lists the main sounds in Burmese where the syllable ends in a nasal.

ã     အန် အမ် ပန်း páɴ flower
ĩ အင်       ဝင် wɪ̀ɴ enter
ɛ   အည်      
ũ     အွန်   ဇွန်း zʊ́ɴ spoon
    အိန် အိမ် အိမ် ʔèɪɴ house
oʊ̃     အုန် အုမ် ရန်ကုန် jàɴkòʊɴ Rangoon
aʊ̃ အောင်       ကောင်း káʊɴ good
aɪ̃ အိုင်       ဆိုင် sʰàɪɴ store

Note how အည် doesn't end in a nasalisation. There is another consonant, [U+1009 MYANMAR LETTER NYA], which has come to be used to produce nasalisation.

These syllables are by default low in tone, but creaky and high tones can be indicated using   [U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW​] and   [U+1038 MYANMAR SIGN VISARGA​] in a very regular way. Note that the tone mark appears at the end of the syllable, not immediately after the vowel, eg. အုန့် and ကောင်း.

Vowels in closed syllables ending in stops

The following table lists the main sounds in Burmese where the syllable ends in a stop.

က Example
    အတ် အပ် ဖတ် pʰaʔ read
  အစ်     နှစ် n̥ɪʔ year
ɛʔ အက်       ကြက် tɕɛʔ chicken
ũ     အွတ်   လွတ်လပ် lʊʔlaʔ independent
eiʔ     အိတ် အိပ် အရိပ် ʔa̰jeɪʔ shadow
oʊʔ     အုတ် အုပ် စာအုပ် sàʔoʊʔ book
aʊʔ အောက်       နောက် naʊʔ next
aɪʔ အိုက်       လိုက် laɪʔ follow

These syllables are all unmarked 4th (stopped) tone.

Numbers, dates, currency, etc.

The Unicode Myanmar block includes two sets of digits. The following set is used for Myanmar, but also tends to be used for other languages, including those with their own scripts, such as Tai Nüa.


Text direction

Myanmar text is written horizontally, left to right.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Burmese orthography described here.

Glyph shaping & positioning

This section brings together information about the following topics: writing styles; cursive text; context-based shaping; context-based positioning; baselines, line height, etc.; font styles; case & other character transforms.

Burmese doesn't have any features relevant to cursive text, baselines, or character transforms.

You can experiment with examples using the Burmese character app.

Context-based shaping & positioning


Context-based shaping is widespread when rendering Burmese text, and here we just list a few examples.

Glyphs for subjoined consonants tend to be smaller than their full forms, eg. သဒ္ဒါ and may be rotated, eg. က္ဌ .

The shape of [U+103C MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL RA​] changes according to what it surrounds, eg. compare the two different widths in the words and note the shortening at the top right of the second word ကြက်သွန်ဖြူ ဝန်ကြီး The joining behaviour of [U+103B MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL YA​] also differs, eg. compare ချက် ကျွန်မတို့

The asat varies its position and shape according to context, eg. လမ်း ဒေါ်လေး

The shape of NA changes when something appears below it, eg.နို့နဲ့ Similarly, the bottom of NYA also changes in the following context, ပဉ္စမ

Context-based positioning

Like context-based shaping, context-based positioning is also often needed for Burmese text, and here we simply offer some examples.

The placement of [U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW​], used as a tone mark, varies slightly according to context, eg. ပြီးခဲ့တဲ့ တချို့ as does that of [U+103E MYANMAR CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL HA​], eg. it is smaller than usual in ကောက်ညှင်း and the shape and position are very different in ရွှေပဲသီး

Other examples noted earlier include the change of shape and position of [U+102F MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN U​] and [U+1030 MYANMAR VOWEL SIGN UU​] when other items appear below the base consonant, and the production of the kinzi.

As a further example, note how the anusvara appears as a small circle above the consonant in this word, even though in memory it is separated from that consonant by codepoints for the medial RA and vowel-sign U အပြုံး

Font styles

Observation: Italicisation is used in Wikipedia for quotations and for citing the titles of articles or publications.

Slanted text used for a quotation in Wikipedia.

Typographic units

Burmese uses word boundaries for line wrapping, but uses grapheme boundaries (sometimes called orthographic syllables) for other operations that work at the sub-word level.

Phrase, sentence, and section delimiters are described in Phrase & section boundaries.

Grapheme boundaries

Typographically, the boundaries of Myanmar graphemes may differ from those of the phonetic syllable. This section describes a default segmentation, and an alternative when using grapheme clusters that splits the default further.

Typical typographic units

(Kinzi)? Letter (Invisible_Stacker Consonant)? Combining_mark*

A minimal typographic unit is usually equivalent to a CCS (but see grapheme_clusters below), however [U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA] binds adjacent CCS's together into a single typographic unit.

Burmese uses different code points for indicating syllable-final characters and for stacking.

Combining marks may include characters with the following Indic syllabic categories:

  1. Invisible_Stacker (see clusters)
  2. Consonant_Medial (see onsets)
  3. Vowel_Dependent (see combiningvowels)
  4. Tone_Mark (see tone_marks)
  5. Visarga (see tone_marks)
  6. Bindu (see finals)
  7. Pure_Killer (see finals)

Burmese graphemes that include a syllable nucleus usually begin with a consonant, but can also begin with an independent vowel. If one classes [U+1021 MYANMAR LETTER A] as an independent vowel, it is one that can be followed by vowel-signs as well as tone marks, but otherwise independent vowels are typically followed by a tone mark only, if anything.

The kinzi is the sequence င်္ [U+1004 MYANMAR LETTER NGA + U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT + U+1039 MYANMAR SIGN VIRAMA], which is unusual in that the first consonant in the cluster appears above the second, rather than the normal arrangement where the second is subjoined to the first. It is also unusual in that it does this even though the first consonant is followed by an asat sign. Nevertheless, it and the following consonant still follow the CCS+Virama+CSS pattern for graphemes.

The following examples show simple typographic units that begin with a single consonant or independent vowel:

Click on the word to see the components.


These typographic units also include consonant stacks, which generally appear only in word medial positions in Burmese. Stacks do not occur across word boundaries, as they do in some other scripts.

The following words contain typographic units which begin with a consonant cluster:

Click on the word to see the components.

ပိန္နဲသီး ပိန္နဲသီး
ဥစ္စာ ဥစ္စာ

Syllable codas, if not written using the anusvara combining mark, are normally written using a sequence of consonant letter followed by an asat, which is always visible, eg.


Grapheme clusters

Unicode grapheme clusters follow a specially called-out set of rules that include exceptions to the norm, with the result that some of the graphemes described above are broken down further. Specifically, grapheme boundaries are introduced before spacing combining marks to the right of the base, and before tone marks. These exceptions were introduced to support cursor movement.

ကား ကား

Observation: Browsers based on the Gecko engine (Firefox, etc.) use grapheme clusters for cursor movement and forward delete, whereas Blink (Chrome) and WebKit (Safari) browsers use the tyographic units described here.

Code point sequences

The following indicates the expected ordering of Unicode characters within a Burmese typographic unit. The labels are those used for the Unicode Indic Syllabic Categories. Follow the links to see what characters are represented by a given label.

  1. Kinzi, ie. င်္ [U+1004 LETTER NGA + U+103A SIGN ASAT + U+1039 SIGN VIRAMA]
  2. Consonant (34) | Consonant_Placeholder | Vowel_Independent (8)
  3. Invisible_Stacker ( Consonant (29) | Vowel_Independent (1) )
  4. Pure_Killer
  5. Consonant_Medial (4)
    1. [U+103B CONSONANT SIGN MEDIAL YA] Pure_Killer ?
  6. Vowel_Dependent (8)
    1. [U+1031 VOWEL SIGN E]
    2. [U+102D VOWEL SIGN I] | [U+102E VOWEL SIGN II] | [U+1032 VOWEL SIGN AI]
    3. [U+102F VOWEL SIGN U] | [U+1030 VOWEL SIGN UU]
    4. ( [U+102C VOWEL SIGN AA] | [U+102B VOWEL SIGN TALL AA] ) Pure_Killer ?
  7. Bindu
  8. Tone_Mark
  9. Visarga

Unfortunately, normalization may result in a different order. In particular, [U+103A MYANMAR SIGN ASAT​] occurs after [U+1037 MYANMAR SIGN DOT BELOW​] in normalized text. Applications such as fonts should still handle this alternative order, since the sequences are canonically equivalent.

Ordering characters as shown above avoids potential ambiguities and maximises the likelihood of success when rendering the text.

Word boundaries

Myanmar script doesn't visually separate words in a phrase.

There is, however, a concept of words. Native Burmese words are typically monosyllabic, but there are also multisyllabic words, and these should not be broken during line wrapping.

Consonants are not stacked across word boundaries. As consequence, it is easier to apply word-based line-breaking.

Punctuation & inline features

Phrase & section boundaries


[U+0020 SPACE]


: [U+003A COLON]




Spaces are used to separate phrases, rather than words. Phrase length is variable. Examples can be seen in the extract from the Declaration of Human Rights at the top of the page.

Punctuation is commonly limited to [U+104A MYANMAR SIGN LITTLE SECTION] and [U+104B MYANMAR SIGN SECTION], with significance close to comma and full stop, respectively.

Parentheses & brackets

  start end




  start end



Quoted speech may also be slanted (see fontstyle).



Other inline ranges


Text spacing


Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition



[U+104C MYANMAR SYMBOL LOCATIVE] is an abbreviation meaning 'locative marker', ie. 'at, in, on', used in Burmese literary form.

[U+104D MYANMAR SYMBOL COMPLETED]  means 'subordinate marker', used to connect two trains of thought, ie. 'so / because'. Used in Burmese literary form.

[U+104E MYANMAR SYMBOL AFOREMENTIONED] is used in the sequence ၎င်း as a demonstrative noun (this or that) when it precedes a noun. It is also used as a connecting phrase (meaning as well as) between two nouns within a clause. 

[U+104F MYANMAR SYMBOL GENITIVE] is used in Burmese literary form as a genitive that is written at the end of a sentence ending with a verb. It also marks possession of a preceding noun. It is used as a full stop if the sentence ends immediately with a verb.

Follow the links on the names of the above characters for more information.

Inline notes & annotations


Other punctuation


Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking & hyphenation

If it is necessary to break text within a phrase, breaks can occur at syllable boundaries, but not within a word. The difficulty is that there is no visual information about which sequences of syllables consitute a word.

One way of detecting line-break opportunities is to use a dictionary to search for polysyllabic words, and then break at syllable boundaries outside the word. This approach may, however, run into problems when uncommon words or new words are used, especially those borrowed foreign terms.

A common approach is to break lines at phrase boundaries and then use justification is to adjust inter-phrase spacing.h,12

An alternative is to indicate break points by inserting [U+200B ZERO WIDTH SPACE] (ZWSP) between words when the content is developed.

Otherwise, you could tie the syllables in a polysyllabic word together using [U+2060 WORD JOINER] while authoring the content. This requires less intervention than adding ZWSP, since the number of polysyllabic words is smaller than the whole. Problems with that approach, currently, are that applications must be able to ignore the word joiner for searching, sorting, and the like. For this reason Hosken recommends against using it, and recommends instead the use of a dictionary with ZWSP backup for words that the dictionary doesn't handle well. However, it's not clear which words a dictionary will fail to recognise when the text is used across different platforms and applications, so this is not an ideal solution either – not to mention that it is difficult for an author to know in advance which words will cause problems and which won't .h,12

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern Burmese orthography.

Text alignment & justification

Justification may begin by adjusting inter-phrase spacing.h,12

Counters, lists, etc.

You can experiment with counter styles using the Counter styles converter. Patterns for using these styles in CSS can be found in Ready-made Counter Styles, and we use the names of those patterns here to refer to the various styles..

The Burmese language uses numeric and alphabetic styles.


The myanmar numeric style is decimal-based and uses these digits.rmcs,#myanmar-styles





The burmese-consonant alphabetic style uses these letters.rmcs,#myanmar-styles




Prefixes and suffixes

The most common approach to writing lists in Burmese puts the counters in parentheses. An alternate style uses [U+104B MYANMAR SIGN SECTION] after the counter. Full stops are not commonly used.


The first 5 counters. The first 5 counters.
Separators for Burmese list counters: parentheses (left) and section mark (right).

Styling initials


Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to thisScript and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.

Notes, footnotes, etc

Numeric footnote references, using Shan numerals, in Wikipedia.