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Showing posts from 2015

Facebook nods to Zawgyi and Unicode

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Burmese needs to be translated into Burmese. Did you get confused? Please read on for the whole story to understand why.

Facebook introduced translation into Burmese in its latest Mobile Facebook app (version 57). You can choose to translate stories into a particular language, and Burmese is one of them. What translation into Burmese does is converting the posts written in Zawgyi into standard Unicode encoding.

Zawgyi is a very popular font encoding used by most Burmese online. It's not an official Unicode standard and breaks the standardization.

However, it caught on early and became very popular before the Burmese Unicode standard was fully developed and supported by vendors. Most Burmese use Zawgyi on Facebook and everywhere online.

It's very inconvenient for people like us who doesn't want to install Zawgyi in our computers and mobile devices. There are plugins for popular browsers such as Chrome and Firefox to either do the conversion to Unicode or tag Zawgyi to be re…

The Rule

"The rule is clear, simple and fundamental. And it’s not a rule to be messed with, either. In liberal democracies the elected civil authorities must prevail over the military forces of the state. The people with the votes give the orders to the people with the guns – not the other way round."

Quoted from the Guardian's editorial.

Myochit Party

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Credit to Phyo Win Latt.


Lotus World Music and Arts Festival

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Lotus World Music and Arts Festival is annually held in Bloomington, Indiana in September. It features arts and music from around the world. According to their website, it's one of the oldest world music festival in the US. More than 12,000 people come during the 4-5 days of the festival.

We didn't actually go to the music concert itself. Instead, we just walked around downtown Bloomington and enjoyed some street performers. Here is a group of musicians playing Zimbabwean music. They were playing Marimba. Marimba is a percussion instrument with wooden bars and resonators attached to them.





There are also local people performing their music. Here is a girl playing violin.


Bloomington Community Farmers' Market

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We went to Bloomington Farmers' Market today. We bought some locally grown vegetables including bitter gourd and water spinach from a Taiwanese vendor.






In addition to locally grown produce, there is entertainment. We also enjoyed some music.




Mon Conversation Book

I found (through a friend on Facebook) a book on Mon conversation written by Sayama Daw Tin May of Mon Baptist Church in Mawlamyine (Moulmein). I downloaded it and saved it here. Please note that there is another primer I posted a while back ago.

First Burmese Baptist Church of Mawlamyine

From: News Eleven.

First Burmese Baptist Church in Mawlamyine (Moulmein), Mon State, was founded by American Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson in 1827. It was built in a combination of Western and Mon architectures using local materials. It will be renovated soon.

.... မော်လမြိုင်အသင်းတော်ကို အမေရိကန် သာသနာ့အမှုဆောင် ဆရာယုဒသန်က ၁၈၂၇ ခုနှစ်တွင် စတင်တည်ဆောက်ခဲ့ပြီး၊ အဆောက်အအုံပုံစံ သည် ဒေသထွက် သယံဇာတများကို အသုံးပြုလျက်  အနောက်တိုင်း လက်ရာနှင့် မွန်ယဉ်ကျေးမှုရိုးရာ ဗိသုကာ လက်ရာတို့ကို ပညာသားပါစွာ ပေါင်းစပ် တည်ဆောက်ထားကြောင်း၊  WMF ကျွမ်းကျင်ပညာရှင်များ၊ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံမှ ပညာရှင်များနှင့်အတူ ပူးပေါင်း ထိန်းသိမ်းဆောင်ရွက် သွားမည်ဖြစ်ပြီး .....

Blind Villagers

Credit to Zaw Htike:

ရွာတစ်ရွာတွင် သူကြီး လုပ်သူက လူတွေကို မျက်စိကန်းအောင် လုပ်ထားလိုက်သည်။ နှစ်ပေါင်း များစွာ ကြာလာတော့ လူတွေကအမှောင်နဲ့ အသားကျလာသည်။ အလင်းရှိတယ် ဆိုတာကို မသိတော့။ တစ်ခုခု ဆို သူကြီး က ပြောပြရသည်။ “ဟိုဘက်ရွာမယ် စားစရာမရှိလို့ လူတွေသေကြသကွ။ ငါတို့ရွာမှာ ဆန်ပြုပ်လေးပုံမှန် တစ်ရက် တစ်ခေါက် သောက်နိုင်တာ ငါ့ကျေးဇူးကွ။” လူတွေက ယုံကြသည်။ ဟိုဘက်ရွာမှာ ကားဆိုတာကြီး ရှိတယ်ကြားတော့ သူကြီးက “ကား ဆိုတာကြီးက စီးလို့ တိုက်ရင် သေတတ်တယ်ကွ။ မစီးကြနဲ့။ လမ်းလျှောက်ကြ။ အန္တရယ်ကင်းတယ်။ ကျန်းမာရေးနဲ့ညီညွတ်တယ်။” လူတွေက ကားမစီးပဲ လမ်းလျှောက်ကြသည်။ ကားစီးတဲ့ လူတွေကို ငတုံးတွေလို့ ထင်သည်။
......
အဲ့ဒီမှာ တစ်ခြားရွာ သွားနေပီး ပြန်လာတဲ့ အဘွားအို တစ်ယောက်က ရွာသားတွေ ဒီလိုအကန်းဘဝ နဲ့ နေနေရတာကို မကြည့်ရက်။ မျက်စိပြန်မြင်အောင် လုပ်ပေးလိုက်သည်။ အဲ့ဒီ ပြန်မြင်လာတဲ့ လူတွေကို သူကြီးကပြောသည်။ “ကဲ ကြည့်စမ်း မျက်စိကန်းနေတုန်းက နေ့ရယ် ညရယ် မခွဲဘူး သွားချင်သလိုသွား လာချင်သလိုလာ လို့ရတယ်။ နင်လို့ မျက်စိမြင်ရမှပဲ ညဆို မသွားတက်တော့ဘူး။ မြင်လာရတော့ ဘယ်သူက လှတယ်၊ ဘယ်သူကရုပ်ဆိုးတယ် ဆိုပီး တစ်ယောက်နဲ့တစ်ယောက် မနာလို…

Black Ribbon Movement Myanmar 2015

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Successive Burmese governments since the military took over in the 60s have transferred retired military officers into management positions in various civilian departments. It's been such a norm. But recent transfers of some military officers to work in the ministry of health caused medical workers to revolt thanks in part to social media. They have been running Black Ribbon Movement on Facebook.


လောပန်လောင်း (lǎo bǎn)

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♫ ♫ ♪ တကယ်တော့ ဆိုက်ကားသမားများဟာ လောပန်လောင်းတွေပါ။ ♫♫
♫ ♫ ♪ In fact, trishaw drivers are potential lǎo bǎn! ♫♫

Note that the word "lǎo bǎn" in Chinese roughly means "old boss."



The context for the lyrical caption (changing the words "gem miners" to "trishaw drivers" from a famous song in Burma) and the photo was a comment made by the prime minister of Irrawaddy Division in Burma. Here is the original quotes from Myit Makha news article:

"ကျွန်တော်ဆိုက္ကားနင်းရရင် ချမ်းသာအောင်လုပ်နိုင်တယ်။ စီမံခန့်ခွဲတတ်ရမယ်။ စဉ်းစားဆင်ခြင် တတ်ရမယ်။ ဆင်းရဲသားတွေ ချမ်းသာဖို့အတွက် အမြဲတမ်း စဉ်းစားတယ်။ နောက်သက်တမ်းမှာ ကျွန်တော်တို့ရှိချင်မှ ရှိမယ်။ ဒါကအရေးမကြီးပါဘူး။" ဟု ဧရာဝတီတိုင်းဒေသကြီး ဝန်ကြီးချုပ် ဦးသိန်းအောင်ကပြောသည်။

He was saying that he could get rich by working as a trishaw driver. He said you had to know management and had common sense. He probably meant well.

However, Burmese Facebooksphere has been blasting this as a joke because it is inde…

General Aung San and the "frontier areas"

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In honor of Martyrs' Day, I was looking for some videos on General Aung San on YouTube and found the following.



.... we want the people of what's called the frontier areas to have the same freedom with us simultaneously and join hands with us.

The phrase "frontier areas", used in the video by General Aung San, got my attention. Chin, Kachin and Shan states were apparently considered frontier then. General Aung San tried very hard so that all the ethnic minorities would be on board with the demand of independence from the British as a Union of Burma, promising federalism. He signed the Panglong agreement with ethnic leaders; Panglong agreement promised "full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas."

Successive military regimes never honored that. It could have avoided all the tragedies and become a true Union of Burma (or Myanmar). Sadly though, the frontier areas then are still frontier today.

Reminiscent of BARS

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The following was adapted from what I have written for Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies 15th Anniversary Magazine.

When I first came to teach at BARS, I was just out of college and a young man full of energy thinking to change the world. I arrived in Myanmar on Dec 11, 2002. On that same day in the afternoon, I went to see the famous Dean of BARS, Saya Paw Lu.

I still remember the first day I went to the office of Saya Paw Lu. I was wearing a pair of short pants made out of Karen longyi sheet because it was so hot outside. I just switched from 0 degrees Fahrenheit in Indiana to 90 degrees in Yangon in a day. I went into the office and introduced myself to Saya Paw Lu. I will never forget the look on Saya's face seeing me in shorts. I guess I didn't look like a teacher, wearing shorts.

I became re-accustomed to the climate and culture in Myanmar and enjoyed the following two years at the Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT). I became friends with many BARS students, especia…

Lisu Songs

I spent a few hours scanning this Lisu song books. They are gospel songs. Here is the PDF file.

Burmese keyboard in Gmail

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I noticed just today that Gmail has a keyboard icon on the right corner even though it's been around for a while. There are two Burmese keyboards that you can activate and use. It's great. We need more Unicode support right out of the box.


How to speak Singaporean English by Amos Yee

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The following lesson by Amos Yee on how to speak Singlish is hilarious. Please note that he has recently been in trouble for criticizing the late prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. On a more serious academic note, Singlish is an example of pidgin and creole.

Police, smart phones and social media

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In the age of smart phones and social media, everything is recorded. I sure wish I had a smart phone while living in Burma, Thailand and Laos 10 years ago.

The following YouTube video of NYC police abuse was posted by Sanjay Seth (https://www.facebook.com/sanjayseth). News media picked it up: HuffPostDailyMail and CNN.



Singapore

From New Mandala:

... but for the reason that part of the success has come from exploiting the weaknesses of its neighbours. Singapore is regarded as clean on corruption, but possibly $200 billion in corrupt earnings from Indonesia is held in its banks. Singapore was the conduit of choice for the Myanmar military and its business cronies when sanctions held.

Crude History: King Mindon and the Meiji Restoration by a blogger Le Minh Khai

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Warning: profanity.



For more of his videos, check out his blog.

Burmese Spelling Guide (မြန်မာစာလုံးပေါင်းသတ်ပုံကျမ်း)

I found the book I used during my high school many many years ago as a PDF file through Myanmar Unicode Area Facebook posts. I am linking it here so that other people might find it useful.