S'gaw Karen language

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"Paku language" redirects here. For the language of Borneo, see Paku language (Indonesia).
S'gaw Karen
Pronunciation [sɣɔʔ]
Native to Myanmar, Thailand
Region Eastern Burma, Western Thailand
Ethnicity S'gaw
Native speakers
(4 million cited 1983–2011)[1]
Myanmar script
(S'gaw Karen alphabet)
Latin script
Karen Braille
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
ksw – S'gaw
jkp – Paku
jkm – Mopwa
wea – Wewaw
Glottolog sout1554[2]

S'gaw, also known as S'gaw Karen and S'gaw Kayin, is a Karen language spoken by over four million S'gaw Karen people in Burma, and 200,000 in Thailand. S'gaw Karen is spoken in Tanintharyi Region's Ayeyarwady Delta, Yangon Division, Bago Division, Western Thailand, Northern Thailand, and Kayin State. It is written using the Mon script. A Bible translation was published in 1853.

Various divergent dialects are sometimes seen as separate languages: Paku in the northeast, Mopwa (Mobwa) in the northwest, Wewew, and Monnepwa.[3]

Distribution and varieties[edit]

S'gaw is spoken in Ayeyarwady delta area, in the Ayeyarwady, Bago, Kayin, and Rangon regions. S'gaw speakers are frequently interspersed with Pwo Karen speakers.

S'gaw dialects are:

  • Eastern dialect of S’gaw Karen (Pa’an)
  • Southern dialect of Western Kayah (Dawei)
  • Delta dialect of S’gaw Karen

Paku is spoken in:[1]

Paku dialects are Shwe Kyin, Mawchi, Kyauk Gyi, Bawgali, the names of which are based on villages.

Mobwa is spoken in 9 villages at the western foot of the Thandaung Mountains in Thandaung township, Kayin State.[1] There are also some in Taungoo township, Bago Region.

Mobwa dialects are Palaychi (Southern Mobwa) and Dermuha (Southern Mobwa).


  1. ^ a b c S'gaw at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Paku at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Mopwa at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Wewaw at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Southern Karen". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Christopher Beckwith, International Association for Tibetan Studies, 2002. Medieval Tibeto-Burman languages, p. 108.

External links[edit]