Wednesday 18th May 2011

by Lionslayer


Burmese Unicode sequence

Burmese vowel “e” (​ေ) is up-side-down of English “e” shape and is a dependent vowel. Some people complained why vowel e is behind the consonant in Unicode encoding. I tried to answered that it’s according to logical and linguistic approach for a Brahmi based script and it doesn’t affect on how we type the character sequences. But some really conservative and stubborn people keep saying that it’s not “Myanmar’s Way”. They think that Burmese script was invented by ancient genius Burmese last 2000 years ago. Geez!

Pallava family branches

Pallava family branches

Well, the more the resistant, the more the motivation I get to learn new things. Burmese language was originally based on Mon and Arakan scripts. Mon and Arakan scripts came from Grantha scripts which was a southern family of Brahmi script. Brahmi script was the origin of most of south and west Asian scripts.

As you can see in the image, vowel e was originally just a modifier to the consonant. All the vowels stayed on top of or below the consonants. People changed writing styles in time. Sometimes, when time passed, people started forgetting the origin of certain history. But in internet age, we can research and dig up easily when we couldn’t do it two decades ago.

Brahmi script 3rd century BC

Brahmi script 3rd century BC. The original form of vowel e was very simple, a stick on top left side of consonant.

Vowel E for Indian Languages 2nd century -7th century AD

Vowel E for Indian Languages 2nd century -7th century AD. Vowel e in all branches still maintained top left position.

Arakan Vowel "e" 2nd century - 6th century

Arakan Vowel "e" 2nd century - 6th century AD. The vowel e was clearly still on top and scripts were not very much different from original southern family Grantha

Pyu script 4th century - 6th century AD

Pyu script 4th century - 6th century AD. Vowel e was still near to it's original form.

Pallava - a Pyu equivalent script

Pallava - a Pyu equivalent script. Many of it's original shapes and forms were still maintained.

Pyu script proposal to Unicode

Pyu script proposal to Unicode by an individual. In Brahmi based script Unicode encoding models, all independent vowels stay behind consonant

Myazedi 12th Century AD

Myazedi Inscription 12th Century AD. Finally, vowel e was completely moved in front of consonant.


Read more:

  • Arakan Coins by U San Tha Aung, The Buddhist Art of Ancient Arakan by U San Tha Aung.

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11 Responses to “Dedicated To Burmese Vowel-E (သဝေထိုး)”

  1. […] Dedicated To Burmese Vowel-E (သဝေထိုး) […]

  2. MHK99 says:

    Burmese scripts descend from Indian Brahmi scripts. The Burmese vowel e is used to modify the consonant and is placed in front of the consonant. In the Unicode charts, Myanmar (Burmese) fonts are shown from 1000 to 109F.

    The problem is in the vowel e uni1031 and the dependent consonant sign 103C which is also typed after the consonant but appears in front of consonant.

    All these appear correctly in Word but misplaced when converted to epub. I have checked this in Sigil as well as in ADE and calibre.

    The above is AFAIK. I have also read your request in Typophile about ligatures. If ligatures are the solution for rendering problem in ADE I would like to try out your ligature fonts if you could kindly make it available. 2200+ ligatures is an awful lot though! Thank you.

  3. MHK99 says:

    ကျွန်တော်ကြိုးစားတာ အခုထိအဆင်မပြေသေးပါဘူး။ fontforge မှာလေ့လာတော့ သ၀ထိုးဟာ uni1031 stands to the left of the consonant လို့ဆိုပါတယ်။ Open Letter About Unicode Sequence ကိုလဲဘတ်ကြည့်ပါတယ်။ အတော်လေးရှင်းပါတယ်။ သို့သော် epub ရောက်သွားေတာ့ ဒီသ၀ေထိုးနဲ့ ရရစ် consonant sign medial RA ကဘဲပြတ်သနာတက်တာပါဘဲ။ ဒါဟာ ADE engine ရဲ့ rendering မမှန်လို့ဖြစ်တယ်လို့ယူဆပါတယ်။ ADE1.8 နဲ့လဲမရပါခင်ဗျား။
    ဘယ်လိုနည်းနဲ့ကျော်လွှားနိင်မယ်ဆိုတာ ဆွေးနွေးပေးပါခင်ဗျား။

    • Lionslayer says:

      It’s because those programs still not yet fully support uniscribe engine.

      • MHK99 says:

        I thought we are now on Directwrite with Win 7 and Win 8. But the fonts are still not rendering properly. I just found that Ko Ravi wrote a script to ivercome the problem. I have installed it and it looks good to me.

  4. mhk99 says:

    Lionslayer မြန်မာစာနဲ့ပတ်သက်တဲ့ေဆာင်းပါးေတွသ ဘောကျပါတယ်. Myanmar Text နဲ့ရေးထားတဲ့ ဖိုးတေ ကိုသဘောကျလို့ epub လုပ်တာ firefox မှာကောင်းပေမဲ့ Sigil, ADE, calibre မှာ သဝေထိုးနဲ့ရရစ် နေရာမမှန်ဖြစ်ေနပါတယ်။

    • U Kyaw Tun says:

      Burmese spoken language in Myanmar script follows the Bengali script and not Devanagari. See how Bengali is written in on the Internet, and you will see that the idea that Myanmar is descended from Pallava is simply not true. It is descended directly from Magadhi just as Bengali was.

      • Lionslayer says:

        According to sources, the script hierarchy goes like below.
        Brāhmī->Gupta->Siddhông->Bengali alphabet
        Brāhmī->Kadamba or Pallava->Pyu or Mon->Burmese

        And Magadhi is a spoken language, not script. Generally, it uses Devanagari script.

  5. Excellent article, except the font used does not display well. Those who are interested in the subject should also look into my websites: and Both are noncommercial. My present work is on Burmese, English, Pali and Sanskrit spoken languages written in Myanmar, English-IPA, and Devanagari
    U Kyaw Tun, retd. Assoc. Prof. of Chemistry, Taunggyi College (now Univ.)
    Research station: 35 ThantadaSt., Sanchaung, Yangon

    • Lionslayer says:

      Sorry for font inconvinence in display. There are two possibilities for the font issue. (1) I am not using Zawgyi font which most people are using. I am using Unicode standard fonts instead. So, if you were using Zawgyi font, the Burmese texts here won’t display well. (2) The complex shaping font system in Unicode font doesn’t work well in this site. Thanks Saya. Your research papers online are very helpful to those who want to learn Burmese deeper.

  6. […] ယူနီကုတ် အက္ခရာများကို စီစဉ်တဲ့အခါ Logical Order (ဘာသာစကား အသံသဘော) အရ စီစဉ်ရပါတယ်။ အဲဒီအခါ အဓိက ပြဿနာဖြစ်တာက သဝေထိုးပါပဲ။ သဝေထိုးနဲ့ ခခွေးဟာ ဘယ်ညာလှည့်ပုံသာ ကွဲပေမဲ့ ဘယ်သူမှ ဘယ်ကို ခလျှောက်ခွေးနေတာလဲလို့ မပြောကြပါ။ ဘယ်ကို သဝေထိုးနေလဲ လို့သာ ပြောပါတယ်။ ဆိုလိုချင်တာကတော့ သဝေထိုးဟာ သဝေထိုးပြီး ရှေ့ကို ရောက်နေတယ်တယ်လို့ ပြောချင်တာပါ။ မြန်မာ​စာ​ကို ရှေး​လူကြီး​တွေ​က ဒီ​လို​ရေး​ခဲ့​တော့ ထုံးဖြစ်နေသော်လည်း သရကို ရှေ့မှာထားတာ မှားပါတယ်။ နောက်ပြန်​ရှင်း​ပါ့​မယ်။ […]

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