A language of Myanmar

Alternate Names
Ka-Yun, Kayang, Lahwi, “Long-Necked Karen” (pej.), “Padaung” (pej.), “Padaung Karen” (pej.)

133,000 in Myanmar (2005 E. Phan). Total users in all countries: 133,180.


Kayah state; Kayin state: Thandaung township; Shan state: Pekon township; Mandalay region: Pyinmana township. Kayah state: Lahwi and northwest Dimawso townships. Shan state: south Pekon (Kayan Lahwi dialect); northwest Kayah state: Dimawso area (Kayan Kangan dialect).

Language Maps
Language Status

5 (Developing).


Standard Pekon, Kayan Lahwi, Kayan Kangan (Yeinbaw, Yinbaw). Significant dialectal variation. Most seem to understand standard Pekon (prestige) dialect. Lexical similarity: more than 90% among dialects, 71%–76% with Lahta [kvt].


SVO; Word Order; Prepositions; Noun Head: Initial; Content Q-Word Position: In Situ; Consonants: 22, Vowels: 17; Tone: High, High-Breathy, Mid-Breathy, Low, Low-Breathy, Falling.

Language Use

Vigorous in most areas, but in some larger towns, children are no longer learning it. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Some also use S’gaw Karen [ksw]. Also use Burmese [mya]. Used as L2 by Lahta [kvt], Zayein [kxk].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 20%. Literacy rate in L2: 40% in Burmese [mya]; 10% in Sgaw Karen [ksw]. Literacy classes in some communities. Literature. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. Bible portions: 2009–2015.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Christian, Buddhist, traditional religion.

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