Connecting on the Universal Dance of Words


Idioms are colourful expressions that can add depth and nuance to everyday communication. Here are some common Myanmar idioms and their meanings that can be helpful in daily conversations:

/hsain: m-hsin /

ဒါက ဇာတ်သဘင်စကားပေါ့။ ဇာတ်ကတဲ့အခါ ကတဲ့သူက သူဘာလုပ်ပါတော့မယ်။ ဒါကြောင့် ဆိုင်းဆရာက ဘယ်လိုတီးလုံးတီးကွက်မျိုးတီးပေးပါလို့ စာသံပေသံနဲ့ ပြောရတယ်။ အဲဒါကို ဆိုင်းဆင့်တယ် လို့ ခေါ်တာပေါ့။
ရေသည်ပြဇာတ်မှာ ရေသည်မိန်းမက ဆိုင်းဆရာကို ‘အိုးပင့်တော်မူလိုက်စမ်းပါဦး မောင်ကြီးရှင့်’လို့ ဆိုင်းဆင့်တယ်မဟုတ်လား။ အဲဒီတော့မှ ဆိုင်းဆရာက ဆီ လျော်ရာ တီးလုံးတီးပေးလိုက်တော့ ရေသည်မက ရေအိုးရွက်ပြီးဝင်သွားတာလေ။ ဒီတော့ ကပြသူတစ်ခုခု လုပ်တော့မယ်ဆိုရင် ကြိုတင်ဆိုင်းဆင့်ရမှာကို ဆိုင်းမဆင့်ဘဲ ရုတ်တရက်ထွက်တာမျိုး ပြော တာပေါ့။

“ကြိုအသိမပေးဘဲ ရောက်လာ” တဲ့အဖြစ်မျိုးအတွက် တင်စားပြောဆိုတဲ့ ဥပစာစကားတစ်ခုပါ။

ဆိုင်းမဆင့်… ဗုံမဆင့်… ဗြောမတီး
ပြောရင်းလက်စ ဆိုင်းမဆင့် ဗုံမဆင့် ရောက်လာသူက…
• Not signalling one’s actions or intentions. \
• Failing to indicate one’s actions or intentions.
The Myanmar idiom draws from the cultural context of classical stage dramas. In these performances, a ministerial character traditionally recites a brief composition just before leaving the stage. This recitation serves as a signal to the orchestra, preparing them for his imminent exit. The idiom metaphorically extends this practice to everyday behaviour: when someone enters or exits abruptly without any indication, it’s likened to not giving a hint to the orchestra.
Essentially, the idiom reflects a cultural expectation of signalling one’s actions or intentions, much like how the minister alerts the orchestra in the play. It emphasizes the importance of providing clear indications or warnings before making a move or a decision, ensuring that others are not caught off guard or left unaware. This concept goes beyond mere courtesy; it’s about maintaining harmony and smooth transitions in interactions and situations.
In summary, the idiom captures a cultural value of communication and consideration, encouraging individuals to give notice or hints before making abrupt entrances or exits, much like the minister does for the orchestra in Myanmar classical stage dramas.

“Give a Cue to the Orchestra”
Definition: To provide a clear signal or indication before taking action or leaving, ensuring others are prepared.
Example: Sarah always gives a cue to the orchestra before leaving work by notifying her colleagues of her departure time.

“Sound the Departure Bell”
Definition: To give a clear warning or indication before leaving a place or ending an activity.
Example: Before ending the meeting, the manager sounded the departure bell by summarizing the key points.

“Raise the Curtain Before the Play”
Definition: To prepare others by providing a preliminary indication or warning before starting something.

Example: The professor raised the curtain before the play by discussing the agenda for the lecture.

“Strike the Opening Chord”
Definition: To initiate something by giving a clear signal or indication of the beginning.

Example: The CEO struck the opening chord of the project by outlining the goals and timeline during the kickoff meeting.

“Call the Stage Hands”
Definition: To give notice or warning before making a significant move or decision.

Example: Before making any major changes to the company policy, the management always calls the stagehands to inform employees.

“Set the Scene for Departure”
Definition: To create a preparatory atmosphere by providing hints or signals before leaving.

Example: John set the scene for departure by finishing his tasks early and informing his team of his upcoming vacation.

/ a ngite hpam /

• တစ်ဖက်သား သတိလစ်ဟင်းချိန်ကို စောင့်၍ပြုလုပ်သည်။
• သူ့ကို အငိုက်ဖမ်းပြီး မေးလိုက်တော့ မ‌ဖြေနိုင်တော့ဘူး…..
• Clever cheaters evade, but catching them off guard exposes misdeeds.
• To catch someone off guard when they are feeling drowsy, i.e., to take them by surprise.
• To surprise someone who is feeling sleepy, catching them unprepared.
A clever cheater cannot be easily detected as he will always be on the alert. Any questions that may expose his wrongdoing will be cleverly avoided. However, when he is not alert and is in a state similar to falling asleep, he may unintentionally reveal the crime he has committed. Therefore, waiting for an opportunity when the person is negligent or unaware is known as trying to catch someone when they feel drowsy.
The Myanmar idiom describes the strategy of catching someone off guard when they are feeling drowsy or sleepy. It highlights how a cunning cheater is always alert and cautious to avoid getting caught but might slip up when their guard is down, such as when they are on the brink of falling asleep. At these moments of inattention or unawareness, they may inadvertently reveal their misdeeds.
Overall, the idiom emphasizes the importance of timing and observation in catching someone off guard and taking advantage of their moments of weakness when they least expect it.
“Strike While the Iron is Hot”
Definition: To take action at the most opportune moment when conditions are favourable.
Example: The negotiator advised his team to strike while the iron was hot and finalize the deal before the competition.

“Catch Someone Napping”
Definition: To take advantage of someone’s moment of inattention or unpreparedness.
Example: The opposing team caught our defence napping and scored a goal during the final minutes of the game.

“Seize the Moment”
Definition: To take advantage of an opportunity promptly and decisively.
Example: She knew she had to seize the moment and ask for a promotion while her boss was in a good mood.

“Take Advantage of Someone’s Weak Spot”
Definition: To exploit someone’s vulnerability or area of weakness.
Example: The con artist took advantage of his target’s generosity by appealing to her weak spot for charitable causes.

“Pounce on an Opportunity”
Definition: To act quickly and decisively when a favourable opportunity presents itself.
Example: The startup pounced on the opportunity to expand into new markets when its competitor faced financial troubles.

“Catch Someone Off Guard”
Definition: To surprise someone by doing something unexpected, often taking advantage of their unprepared state.
Example: The journalist caught the politician off guard with a tough question during the press conference.

/ ahtote hpyay /
• To unpack the bundle
• To expose a disgraceful or uncomfortable truth or secret in a public setting
• ကိုယ့်အထုပ် ကိုယ်ဖြေပြ
• မိမိ၏အစုတ်ထုပ်ကို လူပုံအလယ်တွင် ဖြေပြသကဲ့သို့ မိမိနှင့် ပတ်သက်သော အပြစ် အနာဆာများကို မိမိပင် ဖွင့်ဖော်ပြသည်။
• “ဖေးဖေးအုပ်အုပ် လူမသိအောင် ဇာတ်မြှုပ်ထားသင့်ပါလျက် ဖိတ်စာကိုဝေ အကျွေးအမွေးတွေနှင့် ဧည့်ခံကာ ကိုယ့်အထုပ် ညစ်မည်းကို လူပုံထဲ ဖြေပြသလို…”
The Myanmar idiom “To unpack the bundle” refers to revealing a shameful act or unpleasant matter in public. In Myanmar, people often wrap up small pieces of clothing and odds and ends of old and new cloth in a bundle for later use.
However, if this bundle is opened in front of others, it can be embarrassing because only valueless items are revealed, which may be looked down upon. Therefore, exposing something disgraceful or distasteful in a public setting is metaphorically compared to unpacking a bundle of rags.
“The Myanmar idiom “To unpack the bundle” is a metaphorical expression that means to reveal a shameful or unpleasant truth or secret in public. In Myanmar, people often carry a bundle of old and new cloth scraps wrapped up together for later use. When this bundle is opened in public, it is embarrassing because it reveals only worthless items, which can lead to ridicule or scorn. Similarly, when someone “unpacks the bundle” in a public setting, they are exposing something shameful or distasteful, which can lead to social shame or embarrassment. The idiom is used to convey the idea of revealing something that is best kept private and the consequences of doing so. It serves as a reminder to think carefully before sharing sensitive or embarrassing information in public.”

“Air Dirty Laundry”
o Meaning: Discuss private or embarrassing matters in public, causing discomfort or shame.
o Example: She shouldn’t talk about their family problems at the office; it’s not professional to air dirty laundry.

“Wash One’s Dirty Linen in Public”
o Meaning: Publicly reveal personal or private issues that should remain confidential.
o Example: The politician’s decision to reveal personal issues backfired, losing public trust.

“Open a Can of Worms”
o Meaning: Start a complex or unpleasant situation that causes further problems.
o Example: Bringing up past grievances at the family reunion opened a can of worms and caused tension.

“Let the Cat out of the Bag”
o Meaning: Accidentally or intentionally reveal a secret or confidential information.
o Example: Jane accidentally let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party, disappointing her sister.

“Spill the Beans”
o Meaning: Disclose or reveal something confidential or secretive.
o Example: Tom unintentionally spilt the beans about the upcoming merger, which was supposed to be confidential.
“Hang Out One’s Dirty Laundry”
o Meaning: Expose personal or embarrassing information publicly, inviting criticism or shame.
o Example: The celebrity’s decision to share personal details on social media led to public scrutiny.

“Expose Skeletons in the Closet”
o Meaning: Reveal hidden or embarrassing truths about someone’s past or private life.
o Example: The journalist’s report exposed several scandals from the politician’s past, damaging his reputation.

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