Win Myint Han ( F.N.I )
First and foremost, the essentiality (absolute necessity) of English language in spurring the economic development of a least-developed nation like Myanmar need be clarified and emphasized in order to convince and educate those bigots who firmly believe that intensive learning of English by non-English people is just a longing for a distant aunt over the own mother (Myanmar saying). Of many reasons that can be cited, 2, 3 only would be enough to be mentioned hereunder.
Take for instance India and China of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), the group of the most rapidly developing countries in the world during the past one and half decades. They try their very best to make it a Must for their people to study English as much as possible. India which had even made English to be its official language has so large an English -speaking educated labor force that big multi-national corporations from abroad had outsourced part of their work for some time therein because of Indian famous workmanship especially in IT . Now China (dubbed economic powerhouse) is very rich and a big creditor to which the U.S. owes billions of U.S dollar. Even while the former was poor many years ago, it nevertheless made sure that thousands of its top students were annually sent abroad especially to English – speaking nations as state scholars to pursue further studies. Now China is important and powerful so much so that international community dare not dismiss her as a developing country without any clout political or financial. Some famous American economists even predicted that she would surpass the Uncle Sam as the biggest economy in the coming 2020. One of the fundamental causes of the economic growth of both nations is their all-out study of English. As they sow, so they reap .
In Myanmar textbooks of almost all subjects except Myanmar officially prescribed for standards eight, nine and ten (in state high schools) are all written in English, let alone University . The last but totally undeniable fact is that unless well-versed in English non- English personages like U Thant, Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros— Ghali and the likes would have never become the Secretaries – General of the United Nations. It speaks for itself.
Today, the standard of written English in Myanmar is at its lowest rung . Unless I point out those silliest mistakes below, you, my esteemed reader would not believe them, as they are most silliest. (double superlatives -Shakespearean usage in the Julius Caesar).
Your attention is drawn to the 27th SEA GAMES held successfully in 2013 in Myanmar. At its closing ceremony a dignitary, may be the minister of sports was delivering a speech in Myanmar with the English translation thereof concurrently being shown on T.V . At some point the interpreter who seemed at least fairly –versed in English inadvertently used the word biannual instead of biennial . As the Sea Games is usually held once every 2 years, he/she should use the latter and not the former, because biannual means twice one year whereas biennial once every 2 years. But I am certain that out of millions of people hearing and seeing the word, only a handful would have noticed the error .
Secondly, KANBAWZA is a well-known household word of success in Myanmar with big businesses in banking, airline, insurance etc like APPLE in the U.S. and MITSUBISHI in Japan. But when the Kanbawza bank inserted an advertisement in the newspaper Kyemon, appreciating the establishment of representation in Yangon by OECD bank, it accidentally used the word renounced. I am sure that what the author intended to write would be, renowned which inexplicably became, renounced, causing opposite meaning, because renounce inter alia means relinquish, reject, spurn, shun whereas renowned famous, famed.
The Kyemon with the largest circulation in Myanmar and as the mouthpiece of the previous regime is a very successful paper in which many businesses and people advertised. But as far as English is concerned it is rather weak, (maybe) because it is a Myanmar—language paper. When reporting the name of the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, England ( William and Kate), the paper mentioned her name Charlotte as Charlotti ( ခ်ား ေလာ့ တီ ) instead of Charlotte (ခ်ား ေလာ့). Likewise, very recently on March 24, 2016 it published an advertisement of the MSEC about the start of stock trading with the title in bold letters as follows :—
Stock Trading Start—on 25th, March.
Everything about it is grandiose and impressive except for one weakness I. e – s which must be suffixed to the Start is missing . If meant for past tense, then ed must be suffixed thereto. The advertiser might be to blame but the editor concerned should have known and corrected the mistake, as it is very easy and simple.
Lastly, I want to quote the poorest possible translation into English of Myanmar or Pali passages in Myanmar. It is at the pagoda OAKPATATHANTI in Naypyidaw where the Buddha’s 4 Noble Truths and Eightfold Path written in Myanmar, Pali and translated into English are shown. I reproduce below 3 translations only without their corresponding Myanmar or Pali text in order to save space.
(Quote) 1. Noble Truth of Cessation of Suffering
The reality of cessation of all (the) sufferings exist evidently. The absolute cessation of tanha-greed, renunciation, forsaking , forsaking at far-away, emancipation, free from attachment are the real essence of the Nibbana.
(Unquote) (the) before sufferings is superfluous, because the sufferings is used for the first time and not extraordinarily significant like the sun or the moon. As use of( the) is very controversial, let it be. But exist needs to be suffixed by S, because subject (reality) is singular. Similarly, as subject
(cessation) is singular, are must be is. And free must be freedom (noun ), because all the words up to tanha which precede the free are all nouns.
(Quote) 2 . Noble Eightfold Path
These Noble Eightfold Path comprising with eight characteristics which is relied upon by the saintly noble persons are the Right View , Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Bodily Action, Right Livelihood, Right Endeavour, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
(Unquote ) As subject ( Path) is singular, These must be either The or This ( The is better). with is superfluous, because comprising or comprise (verb) needs no preposition. Only when used as a past participle it needs a preposition.
(e .g. Our team is comprised of 3 doctors.) relied (rely) upon which means depend upon is not appropriate and should be replaced by trodden. The following sentence with the same meaning is proposed to be substituted for the original :—
The Noble Eightfold Path which must be trodden by those wishing to attain Enlightenment is composed of eight characteristics: Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Bodily Action, Right Livelihood, Right Endeavour, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
(Quote ) 3.Noble Truth of Origin of Suffering
Tanha (craving ) is potent for the new life which is accompanied by pleasure and lust. Seeking satisfaction by roving for sensual pleasures. What is this Tanha ? i.e Kama Tanha ( craving for sense pleasures ). Sassataditthi Tahna
(a desire for an eternity of existence), Ucchedaditthi Tahna ( a desire for an annihilation of the soul )
(Unquote) As potent and accompany are not appropriate terms, the sentence with the same meaning shown below is proposed to replace the original:—
Tanha (craving ) is bound to reproduce a new existence replete with ever- present pleasure and lust.
The phrase (or sentence),” Seeking satisfaction by roving for sensual pleasures” is verbless. Pleasure is suffixed by s in the phrase and one sentence but not in another. sensual pleasures is used in the phrase while sense pleasures in one sentence. an (in the last bracket) is superfluous. And annihilation is inappropriate and incompatible with soul which should be preceded by for getting rid. (a desire for getting rid of the soul)
I was totally stunned and sad to find those silliest mistakes in such a subject and a place as the Buddha’s profoundest sermon and a pagoda much frequented by countless pilgrims including Myanmar VIPs. Even those foreigners who know some English only might have looked down upon us , when seeing the same.
My dear reader, I believe that by now you have already realized how much hopeless our English standard now in Myanmar is. Accordingly, radical changes must be effected as soon and much as possible to tackle that knotty cancerlike problem. I pray with all my heart that our great lady of preeminence Daw Aung San Suu Kyi be able to transform the failed state of Myanmar into a successful one in the foreseeable future.