|Native to||Myanmar, Thailand|
|Region||Karen State, Eastern Myanmar, Western Thailand|
|(1.5 million cited 1983–2011)|
S'gaw Karen Script
Official language in
Sgaw Karen or Sgaw Kayin, commonly known as Karen is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by the Sgaw Karen people of Myanmar and Thailand. A Karenic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family, Sgaw Karen is spoken by over a million people in Tanintharyi Region, Ayeyarwady Region, Yangon Region, and Bago Region in Myanmar, and about 200,000 in northern and western Thailand along the border near Kayin State. It is written using the S'gaw Karen alphabet, derived from the Burmese script although a Latin-based script is also in use among the Sgaw Karen in northwestern Thailand.
Various divergent dialects are sometimes seen as separate languages: Paku in the northeast, Mopwa (Mobwa) in the northwest, Wewew, and Monnepwa.
The Sgaw, commonly known as the Karen language belongs to the Karenic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The Sgaw language has been used as the official language in the Karen National Union (KNU) organization who have waged a war against the Burmese government since early 1949. A Bible translation was published in 1853.
S'gaw is spoken in Ayeyarwady delta area, in the Ayeyarwady, Bago, Kayin, and Rangon Regions. S’gaw speakers are frequently interspersed with Pwo Karen speakers.
S'gaw dialects are:
Paku is spoken in:
Paku dialects are Shwe Kyin, Mawchi, Kyauk Gyi, Bawgali, the names of which are based on villages.
Mobwa dialects are Palaychi (Southern Mobwa) and Dermuha (Southern Mobwa).
The Sgaw Karen language has at least 3 dialects. They are mutually intelligible to each other however there may be words that sound unfamiliar to one another.
The following displays the phonological features of present S'gaw Karen:
The Karen alphabet consist of 25 consonants, 9 vowels, 5 tones and 5 medials. The Karen alphabet was derived from the Burmese scriptas created by the help of the English missionaries around the early 1860s. The Karen alphabet was created for the purpose of translating the Bible into the Karen language. Karen script is written from left to right and requires no spaces between words, although modern writing usually contains spaces after each clause to enhance readability.
vowel holder (ʔ)
Vowels can never stand alone and if a word starts with a vowel syllable, use the vowel carrier "အ" which is silent in order to write words that start with vowel.
ae or ay (e)
In Sgaw Karen, every syllable consists of a vowel, either alone, or preceded by a single or double consonant. A syllable always ends in a vowel. Every syllable may be pronounced in six different tones of voice, the meaning varying according to the tone in which it is pronounced.
|ၢ်(အၢသံ)||is pronounced with a heavy falling inflection|
|ာ်(အးသံ)||is pronounced abruptly, at a low pitch|
|း(ဖျၢၣ်ဆံး)||is pronounced abruptly at an ordinary pitch|
|ၣ်(ဟးသံ)||is pronounced with a falling circumflex inflection|
|ၤ(က့ၣ်ဖိ)||is pronounced with a prolonged
When one consonant follows another with no vowel sound intervening, the second consonant is represented by a symbol, which is joined to the character representing the first consonant.
The examples of writing the Karen alphabet are:
Ken Manson (2009) proposed a Karen tone box to help understand Karenic tonal diversity and classify Karenic languages. It is similar to William Gedney's Tai tone box (see Proto-Tai language#Tones). The tone box contains diagnostic words for use during field elicitation.
The Karen alphabet is based on Roman script and has 24 consonants, 9 vowels and 5 tones which are all written in letter form.
|Letter||K k||HK hk||G g||Q q||NG ng||C c||HS hs||NY ny||T t||HT ht||D d||N n|
|Letter||P p||HP hp||B b||M m||Y y||R r||L l||W w||S s||H h||EH eh||AH ah|
|Vowels||A a||E e||I i||O o||U u||AI ai||EI ei||AU au||OO oo|
|Tones||V v||J j||X x||F f||Z z|
|S'gaw Karen language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|