|Burma and across the border into Thailand|
|ISO 639-2 / 5:||kar|
The Karen // languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni (also known Kayah or Red Karen) and Kayan (also known as Padaung) are related to the Sgaw branch. They are almost unique among the Tibeto-Burman languages in having a subject–verb–object word order; other than Karen and Bai, Tibeto-Burman languages feature a subject–object–verb order. This is likely due to influence from neighboring Mon and Tai languages. The languages are also considered unusual for not having any Chinese influence.
Because they are linguistically conservative in many ways, Benedict (1972) removed the Karen languages from Tibeto-Burman in a Tibeto-Karen family, but this no longer seems justified.
The internal structure of the family is as follows:
- Pwo (Eastern, Western, Northern, Phrae Pwo)
Manson (2011) classifies the Karen languages as follows. The classifications of Geker, Gekho, Kayaw, and Manu are ambiguous, as they may be either Central or Southern.
Shintani (2012:x) gives the following tentative classification, proposed in 2002, for what he calls the "Brakaloungic" languages, of which Karen is a branch. Individual languages are marked in italics.
However, at the time of publication, Shintani (2012) reports that there are more than 40 Brakaloungic languages and/or dialects , many of which have only been recently reported and documented. Shintani also reports that Mon influence is present in all Brakaloungic languages, while some also have significant Burmese and Shan influence.
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
- Graham Thurgood, Randy J. LaPolla (2003). The Sino-Tibetan Languages. Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1129-5.
- Description of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family
- Matisoff, James A. (1991). "Sino-Tibetan Linguistics: Present State and Future Prospects". Annual Review of Anthropology (Annual Reviews Inc.) 20: 469–504. doi:10.1146/annurev.an.20.100191.002345.
- Thai Cultural Tourism
- Shintani Tadahiko (2012). A handbook of comparative Brakaloungic languages. Tokyo: ILCAA.
- George van Driem (2001) Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region. Brill.