Sgaw Karen is a member of the Karenic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. It is spoken by about 2 million people in southern Myanmar and northwestern Thailand. In Myanmar it is spoken in Kayin State, and in the regions of Tanintharyi, Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago. In Thailand is spoken by about 200,000 people in the provinces of Tak, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi and Kamphaeng Phet.
Other names for Sgaw Karen include Burmese Karen, Kanyaw, Kayinpyu, Kyetho, Paganyaw, Pchcknya, Pwakenyaw, S’gau, S’gaw, S’gaw Kayin, White Karen or Yang Khao. It is an official language in Kayin State in Myanmar, and is recognised as a minority language in Thailand.
Sgaw Karen is written with the Mon/Burmese alphabet, and can also be written with the Latin alphabet. Some dialects of S'gaw Karen are sufficiently different to be considered separate languages by some: Paku, Mopwa, Wewew and Monnepwa.
Hear the Sgaw Karen alphabet
Details of S'gaw Karen alphabets provided by Wolfram Siegel
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Karen languages
A Grammar of S'gaw Karen (PDF)
Type S'gaw Karen online
Page last modified: 18.01.23
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