Kayah, Western


A language of Myanmar

Alternate Names
Karenni, Karennyi, Karieng Daeng, Kayah, Kayah Li, Red Karen, Yang Daeng

150,000 (2007). 2,000 refugees in Thailand.


Kayah state and Kayin state: east of Thanlwin river; Shan state: Pekon township south. Shan state: north of Loikaw (northern dialect); Dimawso and Hpruso townships south of Loikaw (southern dialect).

Language Maps
Language Status

5 (Developing).


Northern dialect of Western Kayah, Southern dialect of Western Kayah, Dawtama, Dawnnyjekhu, Sounglog, Chi Kwe, Wan Cheh. Part of a dialect continuum of Central Karen varieties stretching from Thailand (Eastern Kayah [eky]) to western Kayah state.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Some also use S’gaw Karen [ksw]. Also use Burmese [mya], especially among Baptists, but among others as well. Used as L2 by Eastern Kayah [eky].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 10%. Literacy classes in some communities. Dictionary. NT: 2010–2014. Agency: Kayah Literature and Culture Committee.


Kayah Li script [Kali], primary usage. Latin script [Latn], preferred by Catholics. Myanmar (Burmese) script [Mymr], limited usage.

Other Comments

Buddhist, Christian, traditional religion.

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