Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies





Johanna Neumann

Office: Invalidenstr. 118, Room 102

E-Mail: johanna.neumann.1 (at)

Phone: +49 (0)30-2093-66026

Office hours: Appointment via Email


Brief Profile

Burmese, also known as Myanma, is the official language for the over 54 million citizens of the Union of Myanmar and the mother tongue of the Bama (Burmese), the largest ethnic group in the country representing around two thirds of the population. Burmese belongs to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. This means that it is distantly related to Tibetan and even more distantly related to Chinese.


The good news for anyone who wants to learn Burmese: There is no grammatical gender, article, declension or conjugation; the relationships between words in a sentence are indicated with the help of grammatical markers; the standard order of sentence elements is subject-object-predicate. Myanma has its own script which, with its rounded shapes, looks very beautiful but also very strange to language beginners. However, the systematic development of the alphabet in class enables students to learn to read and write relatively quickly and in the first half of the Burmese I course. Learning to write is essential in order to develop an understanding of the language, especially pronunciation. Burmese is a tonal language. This means that a change in tone in the pronunciation of individual words leads to a change in meaning. Ultimately, we are also familiar with tones in German, only they fulfill a different function there: for example, the voice rises when the question “Really?” is asked and falls slightly when the statement “Really.” is made.


Those who speak and understand Burmese gain a completely different approach to the country and its people and understand many contexts much better than someone who uses English or an interpreter. Learning the language also enables access to original language sources of information: what is happening on social media, literature, newspaper articles or films. The aim of the training is to enable a deeper understanding of cultural and social concepts through the independent use of oral and written original sources, as they often cannot be adequately translated.


Course Overview

Myanma 1

  • 4 SWS, winter term
  • Written exam

Myanma 2

  • 4 SWS, summer term
  • Written and oral exam

Myanma 3

  • 4 SWS, winter term
  • Written exam

Myanma 4

  • 4 SWS, summer term
  • Oral exam