[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] Numbers 1-10 in a mystery language of Burma/Myanmar

Patrick McCormick mccormick.yangon at gmail.com
Tue Jan 19 08:47:23 UTC 2021


I wanted to ask whether anyone familiar with the languages in and around
Burma can see anything in the list of numbers 1-10 below.

The background story is that I’ve found references to a Burmese dialect
called variously *Yabaing, Yabein, Labein, *or *Zabein. *Administrative
records of the Burmese courts (*sittàn) *made in 1782 make repeated
references to these people, always in conjunction with the name
“Karen.”Around 100 years later, the 1872 and then 1901 British Censuses of
Lower Burma refer to variants of this name, reporting it to be an extinct
variety of Burmese spoken around Pegu. (Georg Noack has told me that
*Zayein* is the name of a small Karen language spoken today in Phekon
Township in Southern Shan State).

In 1878, British colonial officer and amateur Indologist Charles James
Forbes-Smith recorded the numbers 1-10 as he was told them in Shwegyin
District, now in Bago Region.

1 tsoomeik

2 tsoo-toung

3 baloungtha

4 lah-bee

5 hgay houk  [sic]

6 louk-kay

7 thai khan

8 loung moo

9 ngain koung

10 loungteik

These are not Burmese-like, nor as I understand, are they Karen like.

Any thoughts?

The fact that the name varies so much makes me suspect that it had been in
circulation for some time without a connection to actual speakers.

Patrick McCormick
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