Saturday, August 30, 2008

Harry Shorto


Harry Leonard Shorto (1919-1995) was the world's acknowledged expert on the development of the Mon language over the last two millennia, and a leading scholar on Mon-Khmer and Austroasiatic linguistics in general. This site is devoted to presenting Shorto's published and unpublished work, as well as photographs taken by him in Burma in the mid-1950's.

See here for Harry Shorto's pictures taken in Burma in the mid fifties.

Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary

The following is from Amazon:

A Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary (MKCD) is the magnum opus of Professor Harry L. Shorto (1919-1995), formerly Professor of Mon-Khmer Studies in the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, until his retirement in 1984. He is the author of two standard reference works, A Dictionary of Modern Spoken Mon (1962) and the highly respected author of the standard reference to epigraphic Mon: A Dictionary of the Mon Inscriptions (1971) as well as the classic dictionary. Shorto held the Chair in Mon-Khmer Studies. The MKCD is Shorto's grand synthesis of seventy years of historical and comparative research on the Mon-Khmer languages. Meant to be published in the early 1980s, Shorto's manuscript was rediscovered by his daughter Anna, and has been carefully edited in line with the author's intentions. The MKCD presents 2,246 etymologies with almost 30,000 lexical citations; even today, it is the most extensive analysis of Mon-Khmer to appear since Wilhelm Schmidt laid the foundations of comparative Mon-Khmer exactly 100 years ago with the Grundzüge einer Lautlehre der Mon-Khmer-Sprachen (1905) and Die Mon-Khmer-Völker (1906). A Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary includes numerous Munda, Austronesian, Thai, Burmese and Chinese lexical comparisons. It is an incomparable resource for studying Southeast Asia's rich legacy of language contact, and for investigating distant genetic relations with its largest, oldest language family. Clearly establishing the terms of reference for future discussion of Mon-Khmer etymology, Shorto's MKCD joins such defining works as Emeneau and Burrow's A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (1961) and Turner's A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages (1966-85) in the canon of 20th century comparative linguistics.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Learning English in the prison

From Washington Post:

A Rangoon teacher jailed for five years in the aftermath of the uprising talked about
his experiences in the prison.

In prison, he said, "you know who your real friends are; you learn the meaning of 'friend.' We shared everything we had: our food and all our knowledge."

He and two prison mates tore apart an old English primer, the only book that one of them had managed to have smuggled inside. They took turns reading and hiding the pieces, burying them in the soil outside their cells. From the pages he learned to speak English.

The article is definitely worth a read.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Burmese unicode converter

I thought I would share this Perl script I have written to convert Burmese
unicode from version 4.1 to 5.1. If any of you find it useful, please feel free
to use it with GPL license. If you find any bugs, please let me know.

Download it here.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Once upon a time at the Rangoon University

Dr. Kyaw Thet gave a lecture at the once-prestigious Rangoon University. The clip was
taken from 1957 CBS Edward Murrow's "See It Now" program on "Burma, Buddhism, and