Karen, Geba


A language of Myanmar

Alternate Names
Daneh, Geba, Kaba, Karenbyu, Kayinbyu, Kono, Koo-ong, Northern Bwe

40,000 (2010 Geba Literature and Culture Committee). Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 10,000 (2000 D. Bradley).


North Kayin State, Thandaunggyi township, 140 villages; Bago Division; Mandalay Division, Pyinmana township; Shan State, Pekon and Pinlong townships; Kayah State.

Language Maps
Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Gerkho-Geba, Sawkho, Thamitaik (Sawkeepho). May be same subgroup with Bwe Karen [bwe] and Kayaw [kvl]. Some comprehension of Bwe Karen [bwe]. Sawkho and Gerkho-Geba varieties slightly divergent. Lexical similarity: 82%–100% with Bwe Karen [bwe].

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes. Catholics also use Burmese [mya]. Baptists and Anglicans also use Burmese and S’gaw Karen [ksw].

Language Development
Radio programs. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1870–2001.
Latin script, used since 1870, used by Roman Catholics. Myanmar (Burmese) script, used since 2002, used by Anglicans and Baptists.
Other Comments

Geko Karen [ghk] and Geba Karen are grouped together in the local Baptist Association administration and are often considered to be the same language (Geko-Geba), although they are distinct. Christian.