Pa'O language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pa'O manuscript
Pa'O manuscript
Native toMyanmar
EthnicityPa'O people
Native speakers
860,000 (2000–2017)[1]
Burmese script (Pa'O alphabet)
Karen Braille
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3blk

The Pa'O language (also spelled Pa-O or Pa-oh; Pa'o Karen: ပအိုဝ်ႏဘာႏသာႏ, listen); Burmese: ပအိုဝ်းဘာသာ), sometimes called Taungthu, is a Karen language spoken by close to 900,000 Pa'O people in Myanmar.[1]

The language is primarily written using a Burmese script alphabet devised by Christian missionaries,[2][3] and many of the materials now available for it on the Internet derive from Christian missionary involvement, although most of the Pa'O are generally reported to be Buddhists (without real statistics, etc.).

The language is also referred to by the exonyms "Black Karen" and "White Karen", both of which are terms used in contrast to "Red Karen" (Karenni), also of Myanmar.

Dialects include Taunggyi and Kokareit.[4]


The following displays the phonological features of the Pa'O (Taungthu) language:[5]


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t c k ʔ
voiced b d
Fricative s h
Nasal m n ŋ
Trill r
Approximant lateral l
central w j
  • /p, t, k, ʔ/ and /m, n, ŋ/ can occur as final consonants. Stops may also be heard as unreleased [p̚, t̚, k̚].


Front Central Back
High i ʉ u
High-mid e o
Mid ə
Low-mid ɛ ɔ
Low a
Glided aⁱ aᵘ


  1. ^ a b Pa'O at Ethnologue (26th ed., 2023) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Pa-oh ပအိုဝ်း - Word List". Language Documentation Training Center. 3 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Pa-oh ပအိုဝ်း - Writing System". Language Documentation Training Center. 9 October 2015. Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  4. ^ Shintani, Tadahiko. 2020. The Pao language: its Taunggyi and Kokareit dialects. Linguistic survey of Tay cultural area (LSTCA) no. 131. Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA).
  5. ^ Thanamteun, Orranat (2000). A phonological study of Pa-O (Taungthu) at Ban Huay Salop, Tambon Huay Pha, Muang district, Mae Hong Son province. Mahidol University.