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Burmese is spoken by two-thirds of the population of Burma (now officially called Myanmar), or about 35 million people. It is one of the Tibeto-Burman languages, a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family.
The Burmese alphabet was adapted from that of the Mons, despite the fact that the two peoples fought each other for centuries and their languages are unrelated. The Mon alphabet was derived from Grantha, an offshoot of the Brahmi script that originated in ancient India. As in the Oriya language of India, the Burmese alphabet consists almost entirely of circles or portions of circles used in various combinations. It was intended for writing on palm leaves, the letters traced by means of a stylus. There are 45 letters in all: 33 consonants and 12 vowels.
Authorized from the original edition of The Languages of the World 3rd edition by Keneth Katzner published by Routledge, a member of the Taylor & Francis Group.
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