Karen, S’gaw


A language of Myanmar

Alternate Names
Burmese Karen, Kanyaw, Kayinpyu, Kyetho, Paganyaw, Pchcknya, Pwakenyaw, S’gau, S’gaw, White Karen, Yang Khao
S’gaw Kayin

2,050,000 in Myanmar, all users. L1 users: 1,970,000 in Myanmar (Leclerc 2017d). L2 users: 80,000 (2013 SIL). Total users in all countries: 2,250,000 (as L1: 2,170,000; as L2: 80,000).


Ayeyarwady, Bago, and Yangon regions and Kayin state; scattered in Ayeyarwady delta area, generally among Western Pwo Karen [pwo] speakers.

Language Status

3 (Wider communication). S’gaw Karen used in the church domain for many Karen languages.


Eastern dialect of S’gaw Karen (Pa’an), Southern dialect of Western Kayah (Dawei), Delta dialect of S’gaw Karen. Reportedly similar to Paku Karen [jkp].



Language Use

Most communities vigorous; some shift toward Burmese [mya]. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Burmese [mya], Pwo Eastern Karen [kjp], Pwo Western Karen [pwo]. Used as L2 by Bwe Karen [bwe], Eastern Kayah [eky], Geba Karen [kvq], Geko Karen [ghk], Kawyaw [kxf], Kayan [pdu], Kayaw [kvl], Mobwa Karen [jkm], Paku Karen [jkp], Western Kayah [kyu], Yintale [kvy].

Language Development

Some literacy classes. Literature. Periodicals. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. Bible: 1853–2004.


Latin script [Latn], no longer in use. Myanmar (Burmese) script [Mymr].

Other Comments

Buddhist, Christian, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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