SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics


Reference works - Dictionaries


("Burmese travellers' dictionary"), by 1999, Yangon, Myanmar Language Commission. 18,000 entries, 402 pp, 120 x 180 mm. An abridged version of the 1991. Small print, but compact, accurate and useful.

1991, Rangoon, Myanmar Language Commission. ?28,000 entries. An improved version of the
Printed in one vol, with improved alphabetical order, full etymologies, sketches, and pronunciation as before. Very useful.

1978-80 [5 vols], Rangoon, Myanmar Language Commission. About 28,000 entries. Accurate and comprehensive, with pronunciation and diagrams. Very useful.


The modern Myanmar-English pocket dictionary, by Saya U Soe Thway. 2nd reprint 1996, Sape Hin-le-o-gyi, Yangon. 524 pp.

1993, Rangoon, Myanmar Language Commission. 635 pp, over 30,000 entries. With etymologies, pronunciation, and sketches. Very useful. Effectively supersedes all earlier dictionaries. Obtainable from bookshops in Burma and (at a higher price) from Dunwoody: see suppliers below.

A dictionary, Burmese and English, by A Judson. 1st ed. 1852, Maulmain. [10th ed. 1966, Rangoon, c.1200 pp. 1883 edition reprinted in 1989 by Hotaka Book Co Ltd, Tokyo]. About 18,000 entries. The standard BE dictionary for over a century. Last revised in 1914, so now very dated, but still useful.

The Universal Burmese-English-Pali dictionary, by Hoke Sein. 1981, Rangoon, 1066 pp. About 68,000 entries. Large and up to date, but only gives one or two translation equivalents for each Burmese word, so you don't get a rounded picture of the range of meanings of each word. The compounds listed help to make up for this shortcoming. Strong on terms from law and administration. Also gives you the Pali equivalent.

A Burmese-English dictionary, by J A Stewart et al. 1941-80 [6 vols], Rangoon/London. Unfinished: covers all words beginning with the syllable Accurate and detailed, with pronunciation, quotations, and references.

The Thalun Burmese-English pocket dictionary, by U Tint Win Naing. 1989, Rangoon, Dipa-mye, 485 pp. Revised edition 1992, Rangoon, Sit-thi-daw Sa-pe, 246 pp. Small and easily pocketable. The coverage is gappy, as it is intended for Burmese speakers needing an English word, and doesn't have entries for all the words foreigners are likely to need.



Many dictionaries published in Burma, including -

English-Burmese Dictionary 2001, Yangon. 1621 pp, 22000 entries, examples, notes on usage, pronunciation in IPA symbols, etc.

The Thalun English-English-Myanmar dictionary, by Thalun Press editorial board, ed. U Tint Win Naing. 1994, Kyi-tha Sa-pe, Yangon. Handy format, 927 pp.

The modern English-Myanmar pocket dictionary, by Saya U Soe Thway. 2nd reprint, no date, Sape Hin-le-o-gyi, Yangon.

Students’ English-English/Myanmar dictionary, by SAM Translation and Publishing. 1994, Rangoon. 1568 pp. Comprehensive, and generous with examples.

The University English Burmese dictionary, by Ba Han. 1951-1966 [10 vols], Rangoon. The largest EB dictionary.

A dictionary, English and Burmese, by A Judson. 1st ed. 1849, Maulmain. [10th ed. 1966, Rangoon].


Burmese-other languages

Burmese-Chinese: Mià Hàn Cí-diån ("Burmese-Chinese dictionary")/ Myanma-Tayou'abei'dan. Beijing daxue dongfang yuyan wenxue xi [Beijing University, Department of Eastern Literatures and Languages], Editor-in-chief: Qin Senjie. 1993. Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan [Commercial publishing house]. 1272 pages; includes Bse pronunciation in good transcription, indicates voicing; parts of speech; origins of English loans; some illustrations; info on Burmese dynasties, abbreviations, elements, weights and measures, name elements and a table of the 27 lunar mansions.

Burmese-Chinese: Mià Hàn Cí-diån ("Burmese-Chinese dictionary"), by Burmese Language Teaching and Research Office, Dept of Eastern Languages and Literatures, Beijing University. 1990, Beijing, Commercial Press. c. 1200 pp. [Not seen: JO has sample pages]. Gives word-class in Burmese, pron in roman, meaning in Chinese.

Burmese-Chinese: Mu-fen Mien-hua ta-tz'u-tien ("A model Burmese-Chinese dictionary") by Chen Yi Sein. 1970, Tokyo. [1st ed. Rangoon 1962]

Burmese-French: Dictionnaire birman-français ("Burmese-French dictionary"), by Denise Bernot. 1978-93, Paris. C.40,000 entries. Concise and up to date, with pronunciation and diagrams. Strong on crafts and botanical entries.

Burmese-German: Wörterbuch Burmesisch-Deutsch ("Burmese-German dictionary") by Annemarie Esche. 1976, Leipzig, VEB. C.17,000 entries. Contemporary and compact, but not really comprehensive.

Burmese-Japanese: Biruma-go Jiten ("Burmese dictionary") by Harada Masaharu and Ohno Toru. 1979, Nihon Biruma Bunka Kyo-kai.

Burmese-Japanese: Biruma-go joyo 6,000-go ("Burmese-Japanese vocabulary") by Ono Toru. 1984, Tokyo, Daigaku Shorin, 525 pp. Actually contains c.9,000 entries.

Burmese-Russian: Birmansko-Russkiy slovar' ("Burmese-Russian dictionary") by G F Minina and U Kyaw Zaw. 1976, Moscow. C.29,000 entries. Good coverage, with appendices on grammar, names, abbreviations etc.

Burmese-Thai: Kan chai phasa phama: sap lae kham plae ("Myanmar Language Usage: Thai - English - Myanmar") by Choochart Tengsuwan. 1995, Chiang Mai, Sangsip Printing. Vocabulary, arranged by topic (e.g. person, group of person, position, animals, body organs, secrete substance, disease and body symtpoms disorder, etc), and laid out in three cols: Thai, English, Burmese. Thai is given in script, with pron in roman and Burmese, and Burmese is given in script, with pron in roman and Thai. Not without errrors.

Burmese-Thai: Phama-Thai - Thai-Phama Potchananukrom ("Burmese-Thai - Thai-Burmese dictionary") by Wirat Niyomtam and Oranut Noyomtam. 1994, Bangkok, (Bangkok: Thailand Research Fund)


Other languages-Burmese

Chinese-Burmese: Hàn-Miàn Da Cidiân ("Chinese Burmese dictionary"), by Wang Zichong (U Kyi Myat). 1987, Kunming, Yunnan Jiaoyu Chubanshe ("Yunnan Educational Publishers").

French-Burmese: Dictionnaire de base français-birman by Emmanuel Guillon and Claude Delachet. 1972, Rangoon. Compiled for use in French language teaching in Rangoon.

Japanese-Burmese: Biruma-go kiso 1500-go by Toru Ono. 1980, Tokyo, Daigaku Shorin, 130 pp, 1500 entries.

Japanese-Burmese: by U E Cho and Ono Toru. 1982, Rangoon, Universities' Press, 728 pp

Korean-Burmese: Student's Korean Myanmar Dictionary by Aung Win Naing. Yangon: 1997. 266p. A brief and concise dictionary for students.

Korean-Burmese: Korean-Myanmar Dictionary by Daw Myint Myint Maw. Yangon: 2002. 309p. A detailed and comprehensive dictionary of Korean-Myanmar.

Russian-Burmese: Karmannyj Russko-birmanskij slovar' by U Kyin We and A J Borovikov. 1962, Moscow, Gosudarstvennoe.Izdatel'stvo Inostrannuikh i Natsional'nuikh Slovarei, 756 pp.

Thai-Burmese: Phama-Thai - Thai-Phama Potchananukrom ("Burmese-Thai - Thai-Burmese dictionary") by Wirat Niyomtam and Oranut Noyomtam. 1994, Bangkok, (Bangkok: Thailand Research Fund).