I am working at learning names but continue to discover the nuances of titles with Burmese names. This weekend I talked to Po Kwah Kyi and heard him refer to himself as [Poe Kwah]. I asked him and he said the Kyi [Jee] is a title meaning “older brother”. I called him this because I learned his name from his younger brother who is currently a high school student in Indiana.
Saw Phillip is another Burmese friend. The Saw in his name is actually a part of his given name. Usually “Saw” appended to a name is like our title for Mister.
Last year we had a 60 year old man attending the church name Sao Taw Oo. This variation of “Sao” is a title of respect given to older men. I would hear people actually call him Mr. Sao Taw Oo. But last month while visiting, I noticed his friends in Tennessee now just call him Taw Oo. Kyaw Eh Zu and Kya Eh Zu are the same person. In his case, Kya [jah], is used more like Master in our culture, meaning young man.
I believe Moo is a title for a young girl, and Paw may be a title for a mother. Sometimes titles are at the end of names and sometimes at the beginning.
Most of the Burmese have a single name composed of several syllables but it is often arbitrarily “americanized” by health, relief agencies and other workers into a first and last name.