Scholars to read Myanmar’s ancient script an endangered species

The Maha Ganda Bell at Shwedagon Pagoda. Source: Myanmar Times 20150810

The expertise to translate the ancient languages of Myanmar, including Pyu, Mon, Rakhine and Pali, is becoming increasingly rare as there is decreasing interest among young scholars in learning such languages.

The Maha Ganda Bell at Shwedagon Pagoda. Source: Myanmar Times 20150810
The Maha Ganda Bell at Shwedagon Pagoda. Source: Myanmar Times 20150810

Myanmar’s history lost in translation
Myanmar Times, 10 August 2015

Much of Myanmar’s early history is recorded in multi-lingual inscriptions dating back more than 1000 years. These words – etched into stone slabs, bronze bells, burial pots, clay tables, even the walls of sacred caves – describe the deeds of kings and reveal details about ancient civilisations, cultures and customs.

But while some of these inscriptions have been deciphered, many more have not, and only a handful of scholars possess the expertise to translate the millennium-old versions of the Pyu, Mon, Rakhine, Pali, Myanmar and Sanskrit languages in which they are written.

Deputy Minister of Culture Daw Sandar Khin said these languages are in danger of becoming extinct if action is not taken to preserve them.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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