Burmese, myanma bhasa, is a member of the Tibeto-Burmese sub-branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. It is spoken by the vast majority of Myanmar’s population (formerly Burma). It is also spoken in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United States. The world’s Burmese-speaking population is estimated to be slightly more than 32 million people (Ethnologue).
Burmese have had contact with speakers of other languages throughout history, including Pali and Mon, the first groups to occupy Burma in the 12th-13th centuries, and later with European languages such as Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French in the 16th-19th centuries. These languages have all influenced the spoken form of Burmese, but not the written form. As a result, modern colloquial Burmese differs markedly from the formal written form of the language used in textbooks, formal writing, newspapers, fiction, and expository prose. Many Pali words and syntactic structures that are no longer found in spoken Pali are preserved in the written language.
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