Learn to say, “I earn $ 123,456,789 a second!”
Many Burmese people seem to be fascinated with
nun2-but | numbers.
Even in this modern day with scientific knowledge, it is not unusual for Myanmar people to consult astrologers and choose the most auspicious dates for important personal occasions and business undertakings. Some have even developed their own "system" to predict the winning lottery numbers!!
Here's a tip to prevent you from the culture shock. In a recent edition of the Lonely Planet's Myanmar Travel, one of the authors noted that Myanmar people tend to exaggerate with numbers. Perhaps, this is the culture where losing credibility is deemed not so important as in some other parts of the world. To be fair, let's face it. You will always find people who like to brag a little.
kjwa3 means to brag.
de2 — this
koun2 — reference to a guy or an animal
nga1-kjwa3 — braggart
beare3 — affirmation ending word
de2 koun2 nga1-kjwa3 beare3
What a braggart!
If you look at it from the positive angle, this is freedom like nowhere else in the world. You are free to exaggerate all you want (about yourself, that is) — regardless of what you say is true or not. That's why the spoken language is called
in a sense means to exaggerate. The tradition probably goes back to generations — long before "spin-doctors" came onto the stage of American politics.
In any case, earning 123,456,789 dollars a second is a bit too much — just a tiny bit too much. How about 123,456 kyats a month? We will learn to say 1,2,3 up to 99,999,999 in Burmese. In case you don't know, "9" was considered a lucky number by a late well-known Burmese individual. In those days, Burma had strange currency denominations such as 45 kyats and 90 kyats, which had the digits all add up to number 9.
Reference Tables for Burmese Numerals
First, let's start with the very basic from 1 to 9.
|1-9 ↑↓||Myanmar Script ↑↓||Pronunciation ↑↓|
To say 1,2,3 in the multiple of 10's such as 10,20,30, etc., the general format is to add the word
after 1,2,3. However, there are slight changes in the pronunciations of 1,2 and 7.
may sound like
for 30, 40, 50 and 90. In general, if you have trailing zero's after, 3,4,5 and 9, people soften the consonant when spoken.
If you are used to expressing those numbers in terms of thousands in your language, you will need to re-adjust the learning. Try to see 2,0000 figure instead of 20,000.
The higher numbers are expressed in
Remember, it has five trailing zero's. It is used as a base for even higher numbers in the multiple of 10, 100, and 1000 to that base.
Place the word
after the numbers from 1 to 19.
ta1-thain3 means, 1,00000 = 100,000 = one hundred thousand.
hseare2-dthain3 means 10X the thain3 = 10,00000 = 1,000,000 = one million.
Place the word thain3 before the numbers from 20 onwards.
means 20X the thain3 = 20,00000 = 2,000,000 = 2 million.
means 1000X the thain3 = 1000,00000 = 100,000,000.
One thousand thain3 is one hundred million.
If you have numbers with 3,4,5,9, and 10 in front the zero, you may hear people soften the words to sound like dthain3.
So, how would you say 654321 in Burmese? Here is a formula. You always start with the highest multiple of 10X. The above number has 6 digits (with the place for 5 trailing zeros), so start with thain3. It is pretty much straight forward as shown below:
chout thain3 — 6,00000 +
nga3 dthoun3 — 50000 +
lay3 htoun2 — 4000 +
thone3 ya2 — 300 +
hna1-hseare1 — 20 +
tit — 1
654,321 = ၆၅၄၃၂၁
There is one small detail. The word "hseare2", which is used for 10X as in 10, 20, 30 .... 80, 90 is pronounced in the first tone as hseare1 when it is followed by a single digit number from 1 to 9 such as in the above example.
Numbers between 10 and 100 with non-zero last digit
thone3-zeare1 — 30 +
lay3 — 4
chout-hseare1 — 60 +
shit — 8
ko3-zeare1 — 90 +
ko3 — 9
34 - 68 - 99 ( ၃၄ ၊ ၆၈ ၊ ၉၉ ။ )
OK, quiz time! How would you then say "11"?
That was a trick question. No, it's not
ta1-hseare1 — 10 +
tit — 1
In spoken Burmese, just omit ta1 in ta1-hseare1 (10 +) for numbers from 11 to 19 like examples below:
hseare1 — 10 +
tit — 1
hseare1 — 10 +
nga3 — 5
hseare1 — 10 +
ko3 — 9
11 - 15 - 19 ( ၁၁ ၊ ၁၅ ၊ ၁၉ ။ )
Millions and Billions
is the word for "million".
chout thun3 means six million.
However, in the business world, you will hear people speak in terms of
thain3 figure with 5 zero's instead.
Six million is sixty thain3, or thain3 chout-hseare2.
And, people usually round up the big numbers so you don't need to worry about saying the smaller numbers that follow the thain3 number such as htoun2 and ya2.
Present Myanmar government uses the term
be2-la1-yan2 — billion
to announce the budget and expenses. This be2-la1-yan2 is the American usage of billion equivalent to one thousand million. I need to clarify this because the British billion is a million million, and Americans call this a trillion.
The Burmese language newspaper "The Mirror" uses the term be2-la1-yan2-na2 for billionaire.
A million million or a trillion is a difficult concept to visualize. Let's see how many zero's behind it.
1,000,000 = 1 million
10,000,000 = 10 million
100,000,000 = 100 million
1,000,000,000 = a billion (1,000 million)
10,000,000,000 = 10 billion
100,000,000,000 = 100 billion
1,000,000,000,000 = a trillion (1,000 billion)
The Burmese language uses the English loaned word trillion as
For example, for the fiscal year 2015-2016, Myanmar government tax revenue is estimated to be 6.387 hta1-ri2-li2-yan2 Kyat.
ကုဋေ | ga1-day2
means ten millions.
ကုဋေကဋာ | ga1-day2 ga1-da2 refers to millions and millions or 'zillions'.
The less known word for American trillion is ပကောဋိ | pa1-kau3-de1.However, those old words are not used in today's business world.
There is one other common usage that you should know.
khweare3 means half.
In terms of math, there is an additional half value to the multiplier. For example,
nga3 dthoun3 khweare3 means 55000. Let's do some math:
nga3 means 5
thoun3 means you need to multiply by 10000. ( 5 * 10000 = 50000)
khweare3 refers to the half of whatever multiplier you use, in this case, (1/2 * 10000= 5000).
Add this 5000 to 50000. (50000+5000= 55000)
So, khweare3 is the same as "half" in English when you say "A million and a half."
Another example on "half" numbers
chout thain3 khweare3 means 6,50000.
thain3 means you need to multiply by 1,00000. ( 6 * 1,00000 = 6,00000)
khweare3 refers to the half of the multiplier you use; in this case, (1/2 * 1,00000= 50000).
Add this 50000 to 6,00000. (6,00000 + 50000 = 6,50000)
A Review of numbers big and small
|English ↑↓||Burmese||Pronunciation ↑↓|
Now it's about time to exaggerate a little
So, finally, you should be able to say that you earn 123,456 kyats (a second, a minute, or whatever exaggeration you preferred.)
ta1-thain3 — 1,00000 +
hna1-thoun3 — 20000 +
thone3 htoun2 — 3000 +
lay3 ya2 — 400 +
nga3 zeare1 — 50 +
chout — 6
kjut — Kyat
ta1-set-kun1 — 1 second
ya1 deare2 — receive + affirmative.
nga3-zeare1 chout kjut
ta1-set-kun1 ya1 deare2