Connecting on the Universal Dance of Words


By Augustin


Myanmar idioms and English idioms share common themes and expressions despite their cultural and linguistic differences, reflecting universal human experiences through metaphorical language.

/ bh lar hkyae/
Rebuking or scolding someone without valid reasons and causes
Reprimanding or chastising someone without justifiable grounds or rationale.
ဘလာချီ သက်သက်မဲ့ စွပ်စွဲကဲ့ရဲ့တာ မကြာခဏ တွေ့ကြုံခံစားရတာပေါ့။
ဘလာချီ လာဖဲ့နေပါလား?
ဘလာချီ ကြီးပါလား… အာရုံ စားတယ်။

In towns and villages in Myanmar, communities organize free theatre performances to entertain and unite locals, promoting cultural enrichment and camaraderie without financial barriers.
These events embody generosity and togetherness, with participants dedicating time and resources to create memorable experiences.
Similar to theatre etiquette, it’s essential to refrain from unjust criticism or reprimand in daily interactions, which can disrupt community harmony.
By fostering mutual respect and empathy in both settings, we uphold values of inclusivity and constructive communication, nurturing a supportive environment for all.

Bark up the wrong tree
Definition: To pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action; to be wrong in one’s assumptions or accusations.
Example: John was barking up the wrong tree when he accused his colleague of stealing his pen, only to find it in his own drawer later. He realized he had misunderstood the situation entirely.
Fish in troubled waters
Definition: To engage in a risky or volatile situation.
Example: Mark was fishing in troubled waters by investing all his savings in the volatile stock market, hoping for quick returns despite the market’s instability.
Throwing caution to the wind
Definition: To act without concern for potential risks or consequences.
Example: Sarah decided to throw caution to the wind and quit her stable job to pursue her passion for painting despite not having another source of income lined up.
Jumping the gun
Definition: To act prematurely or before the right time.
Example: Amanda jumped the gun by announcing the party date before confirming the venue availability, causing confusion among the guests who were unsure where to go.
Beating a dead horse
Definition: To waste time and effort on something that is already decided or settled.
Example: Continuing to argue about the project budget is like beating a dead horse – the decision to allocate funds has already been made, and further discussion won’t change it.
Crying over spilt milk
Definition: To dwell on past misfortunes or mistakes that cannot be changed.
Example: There’s no use crying over spilt milk; let’s focus on how we can improve for next time and avoid similar mistakes in the future.

/ baing-dar-ma /
A flirtatious or promiscuous girl or woman
A woman who is playful or romantically adventurous
In the past, a girl who rolled cotton for making wicks or for spinning was considered a low-paid worker. Being associated with someone who worked for a small fee meant being seen as somewhat menial.
Consequently, older people would use the word “baing-dar-ma” to scold a girl, using it as a term of reproach. Over time, this term evolved to also refer to a flirtatious or promiscuous girl or woman.
ရှေးက နန်းတော်ထဲမှာ ညဘက်မီးထွန်းတဲ့အခါ ဆီမီးကိုပဲ သုံးရတယ်။ ဆီမီးမှာ သုံးတဲ့မီးစာက  ဝါကိုဗိုင်းငင်ပြီး ရလာတဲ့ အဖတ်လေးတွေကို သုံးတယ်။ အဲ့ဒီဂွမ်းအဖတ်လေးတွေကို အတောင့်လေးတွေဖြစ်အောင် လက်နဲ့ကျစ်ရတယ်။ ဗိုင်းတောင့် လို့ ခေါ်သတဲ့။ အဲ့ဒီလိုကျစ်တာကို ‘တာ’တယ် လို့ သုံးနှုန်းသတဲ့။
အဲ့ဒီလို ဗိုင်းတောင့်လေးတွေကို ကျစ်တဲ့အလုပ်ကို နန်းတော်ထဲက အနိမ့်စား ကျွန်မ တွေက လုပ်ရပါသတဲ့။ ဆိုလိုတာက အဆင့်အနိမ့်ဆုံး မင်းမှုထမ်းပေါ့။
ဒါကိုရည်ညွန်းပြီး ဗိုင်းတာမ ဆိုတာ တစ်ဖက်သားကို နှိမ့်ချဆဲဆိုတဲ့ စကားလုံးဖြစ်သွားရတာပါ။ မြန်မာအဘိဓာန်နဲ့ ရွှေနန်းသုံးဝေါဟာရအဘိဓာန်မှာ တွေ့ရတယ်။
In historical Myanmar, the “ baing-dar “ served as a vital tool within loom workshops, crafted from palm hemp fibres to store and organize small patches of cotton threads or yarns essential for traditional textile weaving.
Weavers relied on its practical design to facilitate the intricate process of creating textiles that held deep cultural significance, each pattern conveying symbolic meaning.
Crafting the “ baing-dar” required meticulous skill, with weavers weaving, shaping, and assembling palm hemp fibres to ensure durability and flexibility.
Its role extended beyond mere storage, symbolizing the interplay between tradition, craftsmanship, and Myanmar’s natural resources.
Over time, technological advancements have transformed the textile industry, yet the legacy of the “ baing-dar” endures in the memories of older generations and the preservation of traditional weaving techniques.
It remains a testament to Myanmar’s artisanal ingenuity and resourcefulness, sustaining a rich heritage of textile weaving through generations.
Beyond its practical function, the term “ baing-dar-ma “ carried social connotations. Historically, individuals engaged in menial tasks like rolling cotton for wicks were deemed low-paid workers, reflected in the term used to reproach girls. Over time, “ baing-dar-ma” also evolved to describe a flirtatious or promiscuous girl, illustrating shifting societal perceptions towards women’s roles and behaviours.
Thus, the “ baing-dar” embodies both the tangible heritage of Myanmar’s textile traditions and the intangible evolution of social attitudes, reflecting a nuanced intersection of craftsmanship, culture, and societal norms across generations.

Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth
Definition: Used to describe someone who appears innocent or sweet but may actually be flirtatious or mischievous.
Example: She acts all innocent, but butter won’t melt in her mouth when she’s around attractive guys.
Play cat and mouse
Definition: To engage in a flirtatious game of pursuit and evasion.
Example: John enjoys playing cat and mouse with Sarah as they flirt back and forth at work.
Paint the town red
Definition: To go out and have a lively, enjoyable time socializing.
Example: After work, the group of friends decided to paint the town red and hit up all the popular bars and clubs.
Have a way with words
Definition: To be charming and persuasive in speech, especially in a flirtatious manner.
Example: She has such a way with words that she can easily charm anyone she meets.
Let one’s hair down
Definition: To relax and behave freely, often in a social setting.
Example: After a long week at work, she finally let her hair down and danced the night away at the party.
Eyes are bigger than one’s stomach
Definition: To desire more than one can handle or consume.
Example: Her flirtatious behaviour often gets her into trouble, as her eyes are bigger than her stomach when it comes to attention from others.

/ jarat myaww/
A drifting story
A narrative that wanders or meanders
ဇာတ်လမ်းလိုရင်းသို့ မရောက်ဘဲ ရှည်လျားသွားသည်။
ဝတ္ထုများမှာ ရှည်လျားလွန်းသောကြောင့်  ဇာတ်မျောသွားတတ်လေသည်။

A Drifting Story:
In Myanmar’s traditional stage dramas, it is customary for the story being performed to reach its conclusion as dawn approaches. If the story is not brought to an end by this time, it is considered to be “drifting” and may never reach a resolution.
This term is used to describe any task or activity that is not finished within the expected timeframe, likening it to a story that meanders and fails to reach its destination.
In Myanmar’s traditional stage dramas, there is a strong emphasis on concluding stories by dawn. This practice reflects a cultural value placed on closure and resolution within a specific timeframe.
When a story extends past this expected conclusion time, it is labelled as “drifting,” indicating a narrative that loses direction and fails to achieve its intended purpose.
This concept extends beyond the theatre, serving as a metaphor for the importance of structure, timing, and purpose in both artistic expression and daily life.
These idioms reflect various aspects of managing time, seizing opportunities, and the importance of timely action in achieving closure and resolution.
Strike while the iron is hot
Definition: Take advantage of favourable conditions or opportunities promptly.
Example: “Let’s finalize the deal while they’re still interested; we need to strike while the iron is hot.”
Make hay while the sun shines
Definition: Take advantage of favourable circumstances while they last.
Example: “The weather’s perfect for painting outdoors; let’s make hay while the sun shines.”
In the nick of time
Definition: Just in time, at the last possible moment.
Example: “They arrived at the airport in the nick of time to catch their flight.”
Time is of the essence
Definition: Urgency and promptness are critical.
Example: “Please complete the report quickly; time is of the essence.”
Cutting it fine
Definition: Completing something just before the deadline or at the last possible moment.
Example: “He finished the project, but he was cutting it fine.”
Better late than never
Definition: It’s preferable for something to happen late than not at all.
Example: “She apologized for missing the meeting, saying ‘better late than never.’”

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