Karenni
Kayah
ကယား, ꤊꤢꤛꤢ꤭ ꤜꤟꤤ꤬
Native toBurma, Thailand
EthnicityKayah
Native speakers
187,000 (2000–2007)[1]
Sino-Tibetan
Kayah Li (eky,kyu)
Latin (kyu,kxf)
Myanmar (kyu,kxf)
unwritten (kvy)
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
eky – Eastern Kayah
kyu – Western Kayah
kvy – Yintale
kxf – Manumanaw (Manu)
Glottologkaya1317  Kayah
yint1235  Yintale Karen
manu1255  Manumanaw Karen

Red karen or Karenni (Burmese: ကယား, Kayah Li: ꤊꤢꤛꤢ꤭ ꤜꤟꤤ꤬, Kayah) known in Burmese as Kayah, is a Karen dialect continuum spoken by over half a million Kayah people (Red Karen) in Burma.

The name Kayah has been described as "a new name invented by the Burmese to split them off from other Karen".[2]

Eastern Kayah is reported to have been spoken by 260,000 in Burma and 100,000 in Thailand in 2000, and Western Kayah by 210,000 in Burma in 1987. They are rather divergent. Among the Western dialects are Yintale and kayahManu (Manumanaw in Burmese).

Distribution and varieties

Eastern Kayah is spoken in:[1]

Eastern Kayah dialects are Upper Eastern Kayah and Lower Eastern Kayah, which are mutually intelligible. The speech variety of Huai Sua Thaw village (Lower Eastern) is prestigious for both dialect groups. The Eastern Kayah have difficulty understanding the Western Kayah.

Western Kayah is spoken in Kayah State and Kayin State, east of the Thanlwin River. It is also spoken in Pekon township in southern Shan State.[1]

Western Kayah dialects are part of a dialect continuum of Central Karen varieties stretching from Thailand. They include:[1]

Yintale, reportedly a variety of Western Kayah, is spoken in 3 villages of Hpasawng township, Bawlakhe district, Kayah State.[1]

Yintale dialects are Bawlake and Wa Awng.

Kawyaw, reportedly similar to Western Kayah, is spoken in 23 villages along the border of Bawlake and Hpruso townships, in the West Kyebogyi area of Kayah State.

Kawyaw dialects are Tawkhu and Doloso, which have been reported to be difficult to mutually understand.

Writing system

According to Aung 2013, Manumanaw Karen does not yet have a standardized script. Catholic missionaries developed a spelling using the Latin script which is used in religious documents, including the translation of the Bible. A Manumanaw Karen literature committee has been set up and is developing literacy programs with SIL, using spelling based on Burmese script , so that it is accepted by Catholics and Baptists.[3]

Manumanaw Karen Latin Alphabet
a b c d e è g h j i î k kh l m n o ô ò p ph r s sh t ht u û w y

The tones are indicated using the caron, the acute accent or without the addition of these on the vowels: ⟨á, é, è́, í, î́, ó, ố, ò́, ú, û́⟩, ⟨ǎ, ě, è̌, ǐ, î̌, ǒ, ô̌, ò̌, ǔ, û̌⟩. The diaeresis below is used to indicate the breathy voice on the vowels: ⟨a̤, e̤, i̤, o̤, ṳ⟩.

Western Kayah Latin Alphabet
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Seven digraphs are used.

Digraph
ng ht kh ph th ny gn

The five vowels of the alphabet are supplemented by four accented letters representing their own vowels.


Vowels
a e i o u è ò ô û

Tones are represented using the acute accent and the caron over the vowel. The breathy voice is indicated with an umlaut below the vowel letter. Breathy voiced vowel letters can also have a diacritic indicating the tone.

Tones
High á é í ó ú è́ ò́ û́
Medium ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ è̌ ò̌ ô̌ û̌
Breathy è̤ ò̤ ô̤ ṳ̂

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Eastern Kayah at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Western Kayah at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Yintale at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
    Manumanaw (Manu) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Christopher Beckwith, International Association for Tibetan Studies, 2002. Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages, p. 108.
  3. ^ Aung, Wai Lin (2013). "A Descriptive Grammar of Kayah Monu (Master's thesis)" (PDF). Payap University. p. 14.

Further reading