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Karen Language Facts and Information

Information About Karen Language

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Karen speakers in the Phrasebase community
 
Extinct: no
Family: Sino-Tibetan
Branch: Tibeto-Burman
Continent: Asia
Country: Myanmar
 
Region: BREK: Southwestern Kayah State. BWE: Kyèbogyi area of Kayah State. A few in Thailand. GEBA: Northern Kayah State and southern Shan State. GEKO: Yamethin, Toungoo Districts, Mobyè State of the southern Shan States. LAHTA: Southern Shan State. MANUMANAW: Western Kyèbogyi part of Kayah State. PA"O: Southwestern Shan State and east of the Gulf of Martaban in Tenasserim. Also spoken in Thailand. PADAUNG: Kayah State, Mobyè State, town of Phekon in the southern Shan States, and hills east of Toungoo. A few villages in Thailand. Also spoken in Thailand. PAKU: Southern hills east of Taungoo in Kayah State. PWO EASTERN: Karen State, Mon State, Tensserim Division. Also spoken in Thailand. PWO NORTHERN: Mae Sarieng town in northwest Thailand, Mae Ngaw along the Salween River, 15 to 25 villages, Hot to Mae Sarieng (Highway 1099 which runs south to Omkoi). PWO WESTERN: Irrawaddy Delta. PWO EASTERN: Karen State, Mon State, Tensserim Division. Also spoken in Thailand. PWO, PHRAE: Northern Thailand, eastern provinces including Phrae Province. S"GAW: Irrawaddy delta area, Tenasserim, the Pegu range between the Irrawaddy and Sittang, the eastern hills. Also spoken in Thailand. YINBAW: Shan Plateau of eastern Shan State. YINTALE: Bawlakhè part of Kayah State. ZAYEIN: Between the towns of Mobyè and Phekon in the southern Shan State.
Countries Where Spoken: BREK: 16,600 (1983 estimate). 2,600,000 in all Karen languages in Myanmar. BWE: 15,700 (1983 estimate). GEBA: 40,100 (1983 estimate). GEKO: 9,500 (1983 estimate). LAHTA: No estimate available. MANUMANAW: 3,000 or more (1965). PA"O: 560,000 in Myanmar (1983). Population total both countries 560,600. Thailand. PADAUNG: 40,900 in Myanmar (1983 estimate). Population total both countries 41,000. PAKU: 5,300 (1983 estimate). PWO EASTERN: 1,000,000 in Myanmar (1998). Population total both countries 1,050,000. Thailand. PWO NORTHERN: 60,000 (1983 SIL). PWO WESTERN: 210,000. PWO EASTERN: 1,000,000 in Myanmar (1998). Population total both countries 1,050,000. Thailand. PWO, PHRAE: No estimate available. S"GAW: 1,284,700 in Myanmar (1983 estimate). Population total both countries 2,000,000 (1990 UBS). Thailand. YINBAW: 7,300 (1983 estimate). YINTALE: No estimate available. ZAYEIN: 9,300 (1983 estimate).
Countries Where Official: Myanmar
   
Native Speakers: 2,600,000
Speakers Total: 2,600,000
  
Phrasebase members who speak Karen at a native level: 0
Phrasebase members who speak Karen at a conversational level: 0
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Karen: 0
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Karen: 0
  
Three Letter Code: KVL
Alternative Names: BREK, BREC, BRE, PRAMANO, PRE, LAKU, BGHAI KAREN, BAGHI, BWE, GEBA, KABA, KARENBYU, KAYINBYU, WHITE KAREN, EASTERN BWE, GEBA, KABA, KARENBYU, KAYINBYU, WHITE KAREN, EASTERN BWE, GEK"O, GHEKO, GEKHO, GHEKHOL, GHEKHU, KEKU, KEKHONG, KEKAUNGDU, GAIKHO, PADAU
Dialects:
 
Summary: BREK: Reported to be a separate language. "Brek and "Bwe" are variant names of a dialect cluster that extends from southwest Kayah State to northeast Karen State. "Brek" or "Bre" usually refers to varieties in Kayah State. Mostly Christian. BWE: "Kayin" is Burmese for all Karen, "Yang" is Thai for all Karen. SVO. Literacy rate in first language: Below 1%. Bible portions 1857-1862. GEBA: Reported to be a separate language, but probably is part of the same dialect continuum with Bwe and Brek. There is some literature in Geba. Mostly Christian. GEKO: SVO. Mostly Christian. LAHTA: Reported to be a separate language. MANUMANAW: Reported to be a separate language. Mostly Christian. PA"O: Southern Pa"o is in Myanmar, Northern Pa"o in Thailand. SVO. Buddhist, traditional religion. Bible portions 1912-1964. PADAUNG: A separate language. Literacy rate in first language: Below 1%. Literacy rate in second language: Below 5%. Traditional religion, Buddhist, Christian. PAKU: Closely related to S"gaw. Some reports indicate Paku and Mopwa are separate languages. SVO. PWO EASTERN: Not intelligible with other Pwo Karen varieties. 91% to 97% lexical similarity among dialects, 63% to 65% with other Pwo Karen varieties. SVO. Monastic Burmese, Mon-based script being developed for Myanmar and Thailand; Christian script Burmese based; Leke script. PWO NORTHERN: Three dialects are intelligible with each other. The Pwo Karen of Phrae, Kanchanaburi, and Hua Hin are not intelligible with these. 87% lexical similarity with Phrae Province Pwo Karen of Thailand, 68% to 73% with other Pwo Karen. Little knowledge of Thai in Hot to Mae Sarieng area. SVO. Literacy rate in first language: Below 1%. Literacy rate in second language: 25% to 50%. Thai-based script. Traditional religion, Christian. Bible portions 1995. PWO WESTERN: SVO. Burmese-based script. Traditional religion, Christian, Buddhist. Bible 1883-1885. PWO EASTERN: Not intelligible with other Pwo Karen varieties. 91% to 97% lexical similarity among dialects, 63% to 65% with other Pwo Karen varieties. SVO. Monastic Burmese, Mon-based script being developed for Myanmar and Thailand; Christian script Burmese based; Leke script. PWO, PHRAE: Not intelligible with other Pwo Karen languages. 87% lexical similarity with Northern Pwo Karen of Thailand, 67% to 71% with other Pwo Karen varieties. Most use Northern Thai and S"gaw Karen as second languages. Literacy rate in first language: Below 1%. Literacy rate in second language: 50% to 75%. S"GAW: Closely related to Paku. SVO. Bible 1853-1995. YINBAW: Reported to be a variety of Padaung. Buddhist, Christian, traditional religion. YINTALE: Reported to be a variety of Kayah. Buddhist, traditional religion. ZAYEIN: Reported to be a separate language, similar to Sawntung, Padang, Banyang.
 

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