Myanmar vowels

Myanmar vowels

49.        Basically, there are 12 vowels in Myanmar writing. They  are အ, အာ, ဣ, ဤ, ဥ, ဦ, ဧ, အဲ, ၾသ, ေၾသာ္, အံ, အို . The variation  အ, အာ, အိ, အီ, အု, အူ, ေအ, အဲ, ေအာ, ေအာ္, အံ, အို  can also be written. These 12 basic  vowels  can  be extended with the employment of  tone markers  (-႔)  and (-း) and also devowelizing consonants.

50.        Such sequential extension of the 12 basic vowels results in 21 vowels listed in the original thinbongyi Kramasa order depicted below.






















51.        If  the two tone markers (-႔) and (-း) are subtracted from the above 21 vowels, there remain the original 11 အ, အာ, အိ, အီ, အု, အူ, ေအ, အဲ, ေအာ, ေအာ္, အံ့ . When Aiu  is added the result is the basic 12 vowels in the Myanmar language.

52.        In arranging the 21 vowels in the thinbongyi, only those have been selected which do not have devowelizers. Hence, အိုဝ္  is not included in the sequence. Later ဝ္  was dropped and အို  was written                 extensively. Thus အို  which was not in the original list came to be included.

53.        There are various views in respect of vowels as there are in respect of consonants. The early Kaccayana Pali grammar showed eight vowels: အ, အာ, ဣ, ဤ, ဥ, ဦ, ဧ, ၾသ . Moggallana showed ten vowels အ, အာ, ဣ, ဤ, ဥ, ဦ, ဧ, ၾသ, ဧတ္, ၾသတ္. The Konbaung period သဒၵဗ်ဴဟာက်မ္း  by  ေတာင္းတြင္းဆရာေတာ္ခင္ႀကီးေဖ်ာ္ added  three အဲ, ေၾသာ္, အို  to the original eight အ, အာ, ဣ, ဤ, ဥ, ဦ, ဧ, ၾသ to make eleven. AM is not found in these enumerations. Early scholars did not consider အံ  to be a basic vowel.  Since  the superscripted dot       (-ံ) is listed as  a consonant, the combination  with အ  to make အံ  is not listed as a vowel. Myanmar thinbongyi does  not include အံ  in  the consonants list. When vowels with no devowelizers are listed sequentially, အံ which has no obvious devowelizer came to be included in the vowel sequence. Thus အံ came to be shown as a vowel.

54.        In early Myanmar writing of the Bagan period အဲ, ေအာ္, အို  out of the above 12 vowels were not yet found.  During  that period -ါယ္  was used instead of  -ဲ  [ e.g. ပါယ္ႀကီး, ပါယ္လြမ္း  ( ပဲႀကီး, ပဲလြမ္း ) ], -ဝ္  instead of  ေအာ္ [ e. g.  တဝ္, ပုဇဝ္ ( ေတာ္, ပူေဇာ္ ) ], -ိဝ္, -ုဝ္, ေ-ိဝ္, -ိုဝ္ instead of  -ို [ e. g.  ထိဝ္, ထုဝ္, ေထိဝ္, ထိုဝ္ (ထို) ]. Since  ယ္, ဝ္  were used in such words as ပါယ္, ထိုဝ္  they  were not regarded to be vowels.

55.        The vowel  ဧဲ  was found in  ေဗဲသာခမာသ  in  the lithic inscription of Shwegugyi  inscribed in Pali in 493 M.E (1131 A.D.). The vowel  အဲ was found in lလဲကိုင္ဖ်က္ဆီသသူ  in the ငႏြယ္သင္  lithic inscription in 509 M.E (1147 A.D ). ဧဲ is in the Sanskrit form while အဲ  is an adapted Myanmar form. The အဲ vowel is not found  in Pali. On  the strength of  the  ဧဲ  form it was  included  as a vowel in  လိပိဒီပိကာက်မ္း  by  ေယာအတြင္းဝန္  and သင္ပုန္းႀကီးသံခိပ္  by  လယ္တီဆရာေတာ္ . However, the Sayadaw  who  wrote ေဝါဟာရ တၳပကာသနီက်မ္း  preferred the Myanmar form အဲ . This  အဲ was also displayed in သဒၵဗ်ဴဟာက်မ္း  by  ခင္ႀကီးေဖ်ာ္. The ေဝါဟာရတၳပကာသနီက်မ္း said  that  ေ -ဲ was not a form of writing found in Myanmar. အဲ became a Myanmar vowel from about 500 M.E ( 1138 A.D.)

56.        The vowel ေအာ္ is not found in Pali and Sanskrit. It is a Myanmar vowel. It was written  – ဝ္ in  the early 12th century of the Bagan period. [ e. g. ပုထိုဝ္တဝ္ ( ပုထိုးေတာ္ ) , လွဝ္ကာ ( ေလွာ္ကား ) , ခဝ္  ( ေခၚ) ]. In later 12th century, the ေအာ္ vowel  began to be written with the symbol *- instead of ဝ္ [ e.g. စတီတ* ( ေစတီေတာ္ ), ရေခႅ¬သ* ( ရေခ်ေသာ္) , အဟိန္အစ*  ( အရွိန္အေစာ္) ]. Thereby, it became a basic vowel . ေအာ္ was written either with ဝ္ or -*   as desired, but by the  13th century it also came to be written with ေ -ာ*. Out of the three forms  -ဝ္, -* ,  ေ-ာ* , the first form  -ဝ္ came to be rarely written by the 14th century. By the 18th century  -* came to be confused with the devowelizer symbol and so was little used. From that time ေ - ာ* came to be written extensively.

57.        It was shown in para 54 above that အို was not listed as a vowel because it included the form  ဝ္. Though အုိ could be found without w\ in a few Bagan period inscriptions it was not standard. အိုင္ was used from the Bagan  period  to about 1150 M.E. (1738 A.D ) in  the Konbaung  period. အို  without  ဝ္  came to be seen in writing from about 1000 M. E ( 1638 A.D ). From about 1150 M.E  ဝ္  was popularly used. It continued to be used in the palace. However, in the Mandalay Yadanabon period အိုင္ was rarely seen.

58.        Thus, the list of Myanmar vowels was augumented from the original nine အ, အာ, အိ, အီ, ဥ, ဦ, ေအ, ေအာ, အံ  to twelve by the addition first of အဲ  then ေအာ္  then finally  အို .

59.        Myanmar writing had its source in  the Brāhmī  script . How the consonants and vowels appropriate to the Myanmar language became consolidated can be seen in the photographic table which compares the various scripts.