Danau (Danaw) is a Mon–Khmer language of Myanmar (Burma). It is the most divergent member of the Palaungic branch (Sidwell 2010). Danau is spoken by about 1,000 people near Aungban, Kalaw Township, Shan State. Danau /dənɔ/ is the Burmese pronunciation of the ethnonym; the Danau thenselves pronounce the name of their ethnic group and language as /tʰənɔʔ/. An acceptable variant is /kənɔʔ/. Danau is a tonal language with four tones.
The Danau are a little known ethnic group in Myanmar, and even in the nearby town of Aungban, it is common for people to confuse this group with the local Danu majority. According to historical accounts, the Danu had served as archers for King Alaungpaya, who founded the Konbaung Dynasty in the 1700s. The Danu settled in the Pindaya region after returning from wars in Thailand, and speak a variant of Burmese that is characterised by minor differences in pronunciation. The Danau, on the other hand speak a completely different Austroasiatic language, which nevertheless has numerous words borrowed from Burmese (and also ultimately from Pali via Burmese).
The Danau live primarily in the villages of Taungbohla, Thaethit, Htinyugon, Chaunggya and Naung In, within a short distance of the towns of Aungban and Heho. As these villages are surrounded by Pa'O villages, Danau people tend to speak Pa'O as well as Burmese. In spite of the small size of the Danau-speaking population, the language is vigorous, and being taught to children. Fortunately, the current situation is in sharp contrast to the prediction made by the linguist Gordon H. Luce in 1965, when he called Danau a 'dying' language. The Danau people are primarily farmers, growing sesame, ginger, chilli, groundnut and potato for local consumption, and for sale at nearby markets.
- Danau at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Danau". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Si, Aung (2014) Danau. In: The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages. M. Jenny & P. Sidwell (eds.). pp. 1104-1141. Brill, Leiden.
- Luce, Gordon (1965). "Danaw, a dying Austroasiatic language". Lingua 14: 98–129.
- A preliminary documentation of Danau, an endangered language of Myanmar (Burma)
- Aung Si. 2014. Documentation of Danau, an endangered language of Myanmar (Burma). Endangered Languages Archive.
- Aung Si. 2014. Documenting Bird Names in Danaw. Conference presentation, SEALS 24.
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