Myanmar - Etymology

Etymology

The country's official full name is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar i/ˈmjɑːnˌmɑr/ (Burmese: ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်, Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw, ). However some countries have not recognized the name change and use the long form Union of Burma instead.

In English the country is popularly known by its short names, either Burma or Myanmar. Both of its short names are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar ethnic group. Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the ethnic group, while Burma is derived from Bamar, the colloquial form of the name of the group. Depending on the register used the pronunciation would be Bama, or Myamah . The name Burma has been in use in English since the time of British colonial rule.

In 1989 the military government officially changed the English translations of many colonial-era names; among these changes was the alteration of the name of the country to "Myanmar". The renaming remains a contested issue. Many political and ethnic opposition groups, and countries continue to use "Burma" because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the country.

Burma continues to be used in English by the governments of many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. The United Nations uses Myanmar, as do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia, Germany, Norway, China, India, Australia and Japan. There are variations of "Myanmar" when translated to local languages. In Spain "Myanmar" is commonly known as "Birmania". The Government of Brazil uses "Mianmar", for example. On November 19, 2012 during the first visit by a sitting President of the United States, Barack Obama referred to the nation as both Myanmar and Burma.

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