Pa'O language

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Not to be confused with Pao language.
Pa'o Karen
Native to Burma
Ethnicity Pa'o people
Native speakers
unknown (560,000 cited 1983)[1]
Burmese script (Pa'O alphabet)
Karen Braille
Language codes
ISO 639-3 blk
Glottolog paok1235[2]

Pa'O is a Karen language spoken by half a million Pa'O people in Burma.

The language is primarily written using a system of phonetics devised by Christian missionaries,[3][4] and many of the materials now available for it on the internet derive from Christian missionary involvement, although the majority of the Pa'O are generally reported to be Buddhists (without real statistics, etc.).

The language is also (correctly or incorrectly) referred to by the exonyms "Black Karen" and "White Karen", both of which are terms used in contrast to the Karenni (or "Red Karen"). The Christian missionary website Ethnologue categorizes the language as "BLK", abbreviating "Black Karen".[5]


  1. ^ Pa'O at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pa'o Karen". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ A Pa'O wordlist:
  4. ^ Some remarks on Pa'O Orthography:
  5. ^ Accurate as of Feb. 2013, cf.