About the Burmese Language
Approximately 32 million people speak Burmese as a native language, and 10 million speak it as a foreign language. It is the official language of Burma, and part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The Constitution of Burma recognizes Myanmar as the language’s English name, yet most English speakers refer to it as Burmese. The Burmese alphabet is derived from the Mon script, reads from left to right, and mostly consists of curved lines. The curved lines come from a time when straight lines would ruin the stylus that it was being written on.
There is mutual intelligibility between all Burmese dialects, even with the vocabulary and pronunciation differences and even differences between male and female pronouns. There are a number of dialects spoken by people who live throughout the Irwaddy River Valley, which consist of most of the native speakers. People in the peripheral areas of Burma speak a number of non-standard dialects. Arakanese in Rakhine State and Marma in Bangladesh are also sometimes considered dialects of Burmese, but are also sometimes considered separate languages. The Mandalay dialect used to represent standard Burmese, but has since been replaced by the Yangon dialect, due to the media influence and economic clout of the city of Yangon.