The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Decorative cloth binding (left) and title page (right).

The prelude on the title page, written in the classic four-syllable rhyme scheme, declares the subject matter as “The royal lineage that flourished from the House of Shakya [Buddha’s ancestry], reaching Myanmar (Burma), beginning with the kingdoms of Bagan (Pagan) and Sagaing … up to the founding of the fourth capital and palace, Yadana Pura… Royal counselor and minister U Phyaw summarized it and composed it, in a verse form to please the reader’s ears.”

As the poem opens, the author says, “Starting from the 11th [in the line], King Thammata, up to the Lord and Queen who founded the fourth capital, Yadana Pura, I shall reveal [the matters of] the monarchs, queens, courtesans, sons, daughters, and kinsmen, in a poem.”

The text reflects the spelling and grammar conventions of a different era, markedly different from contemporary specimens. This feature makes the book a tangible piece of evidence for the metamorphosis of the Burmese language, a valuable source for language and literature research.

The Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS) at UC Berkeley offers both undergraduate and graduate instruction and research in the languages and civilizations of South and Southeast Asia from the most ancient period to the present. Instruction includes intensive training in several of the major languages of the area including Bengali, Burmese, Hindi, Khmer, Indonesian (Malay), Pali, Prakrit, Punjabi, Sanskrit (including Buddhist Sanskrit), Filipino (Tagalog), Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Urdu, and Vietnamese, and specialized training in the areas of literature, philosophy and religion, and general cross-disciplinary studies of the civilizations of South and Southeast Asia.[1] Outside of SSEAS where beginning through intermediate level courses are offered in Burmese, related courses are taught and dissertations produced across campus in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Ethnic Studies, History, Folklore, Linguistics, and Political Science (re)examining the rich history and cultures of Myanmar.[2] 

Contribution by Kenneth Wong, Lecturer
Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies

     Sources consulted:

  1. Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley (accessed 4/8/19)
  2. Burmese (BURMESE) – Berkeley Academic Guide – UC Berkeley (accessed 4/8/19)

Rājā vaṃsa teʺ kabyā
Title in English:
Author: edited by Ūʺ Phyoʻ
Imprint: Ranʻ Kunʻ : Haṃsāvātī Sa Taṅʻʺ Cā Tuikʻ 1899.
Edition: 1st edition
Language: Burmese
Language Family: Sino-Tibetan
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (UC Berkeley)
URL: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.b4083733

Select print editions of interest at Berkeley:

The Languages of Berkeley [fan]previous | about | next

The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

Follow The Languages of Berkeley!
Subscribe by email

What’s your favorite language?