A Cultural Approach


Ward Keeler and Allen Lyan

ISBN : 978-988-8528-40-0

Language, Linguistics, Reference

May 2021

276 pages, 7″ x 10″

  • HK$540.00

Appropriate for use by students at varying levels of competence, Burmese: A Cultural Approach provides a thorough and systematic introduction to the Burmese writing system in Part One and a series of true-to-life conversations in Part Two.

Students with some prior knowledge of the spoken language but little familiarity with the Burmese script can use Part One to solidify their grasp of the Burmese sound system as well as its orthography. Intrepid beginners could also start their study of the language by making use of Part One. Doing so would mean making a slower start at formulating phrases as compared to using a romanization system but learners would gain a firmer foundation for the later—and eventually, faster—development of their speaking and reading skills.

The conversations in Part Two are extensively annotated in order to illustrate grammatical patterns, characteristic turns of phrase, and typical habits of social interaction. True to an anthropological approach to language learning, they are intended to provide students with useful insights into how cultural understandings, not just grammar, shape what gets said in Burmese. The book is enhanced by audio files recorded by native speakers for all the written symbols, dialogues, and copious exercises in the book.

Ward Keeler is a cultural anthropologist specializing in Burma and Indonesia. He teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. Allen Lyan teaches Burmese to foreigners and is also a music and English language teacher. He lives in Mandalay, Burma.

“Ward Keeler and Allen Lyan’s book is a significant addition to the limited range of materials available for intermediate-level learners of the beautiful Burmese language. The authors have assembled a rich set of dialogues in a natural, spoken style of Burmese in a range of social contexts. This is an excellent way to illustrate a number of the features of Burmese that are not found in European languages.” —Justin Watkins, SOAS University of London

“The natural dialogues and audio files in Keeler and Lyan’s Burmese: A Cultural Approach cover a wide range of scenarios that introduce learners to the different registers and styles they need to master. For serious students looking for a rigorous self-study course, Keeler and Lyan’s content is a great compilation.” —Kenneth Wong, University of California, Berkeley