The Burmese language belongs to the group of Tibeto-Burmese languages, which in turn is part of the Sino-Tibetan group of languages. Burmese is spoken by about 80% of the population of Myanmar, and is the official language of the country. Besides Burmese, there are more than 100 languages and local dialects spoken in different regions and by different ethnic groups. English is widely spoken, especially in business and tourist areas.

Spoken Burmese has a distinctive rhythmic character. The meaning of a word often depends on the pitch of a certain syllable. For an untrained speaker, correct pronunciation can be quite difficult - the Burmese say that chewing a little betel might help!