Monday, January 5, 2009

Parlez-vous Myanmar?

I may have mentioned in the past that there is a woman who rides my bus named Ma. I know her name is Ma because she was wearing a name tag from the Radisson, where I am pretty sure she works in housekeeping. Under her name on the tag it says "Burma." She doesn't speak much, if any, English. A while ago, she suddenly became every excited to see me, like I was her old friend. I mean, I've always said hello to her because I see her everyday, but she'd get a huge smile and start waving.

Today, Ma saw me as we were waiting to get on the bus. She smiled and waved. She got on the bus before me and found a seat upstairs in the back. When I got on the bus, most of the seats in front were taken up by smelly people, so I started to go upstairs too. She saw me and pointed to the seat across from her. That was kind of the end of it. She didn't say anything else to me after I sat down.

I really, really want to be able to say hello to her in her language. Does anyone know of a good online resource to learn Burmese (Myanmar)? If it matters, I think she might be from the Karen province. It seems we have a fair number of Karen refugees here.

7 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Have you Googled it? I'm sure you could find it from there.

Cellar Door said...

I can't help you, but I think you are such a nice person to make the effort!

Meg said...

I looked, but didn't find anything that wasn't asking me to download a program to read their script. I might try the bookstore for a travel guide type book. If such a things exists for a country that's been in turmoil for eons.

One thing I like the most about language is how it unites people. I know that's corny, but seriously. She works as a maid in a hotel, doesn't speak English well, if at all, and probably only communicates with people in her societal microcosm. I'd like to say hello or have a good weekend. I mean, she thinks we're friends right?

ladyfi said...

Try Google's Babel Fish perhaps?

Meg said...

Babel Fish? What is this Babel Fish of which you speak?

Andrew said...

Babelfish is cool. It's a translator so you can enter text and it spits it out for you in your chosen language.

I use it to check my Spanish with friends in Spain and Venezuela. I speak okay, but spelling in another language is hit or miss for me.

Meg said...

Babelfish is pretty cool. I was just looking at it. Alas, they don't translate into Burmese, only the more common world languages. I did find a phrase book online, about which I just posted.