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Language, Gender, and Religion in Myanmar

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Chu Paing
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On August 26, 2015, the Myanmar government passed the Race and Religion Protection Laws or myosaun ubade proposed by Wirathu, founder of The Patriotic Association of Myanmar (Mabatha). This paper analyzes the gender ideologies embedded in the choice of High and Low reference register in Burmese language for women in the Myanmar-Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Law as part of myosaunubade. The choice of High register reference term amyothamee(daughter of lineage) in the rhetoric of myosaunubade evokes a shared anxiety among the public and recruits other ethnic and religious minorities to join in the Burman Buddhist nationalistic agenda. By putting gender at the center of a linguistic analysis, I argue that Burman Buddhist nationalist discourses downplay ethnoreligious diversity and attempt to create a sense of alliance among the citizens of Myanmar. Keywords: gender, religion, register, law, rhetoric ISO 639-3 codes: mya