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It is one of the Tibeto-Burman languages, which constitute a branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. It is spoken by 30 million people (the " Burmans", the largest ethnic group) in the Republic of Myanmar as first language, and over 40 million including second language users. Native speakers of Burmese seldom speak a second indigenous language. Conversely, Burmese is the second language of many educated speakers of other languages. Burmese is in fact the language of education and the media, of business and administration and of communication between ethnic groups. The distinctive Burmese alphabet consists almost entirely of circles or portions of circles used in various combinations. The script evolved at a time when writing was generally done on palm leaves, the letters traced by means of a stylus. Thus straight lines were impossible because they would cause the leaf to split.