VL.png The World-Wide Web Virtual Library
[WWW VL database || WWW VL search]
donations.gif asia-wwwvl.gif

Online Burma/Myanmar Library

Full-Text Search | Database Search | What's New | Alphabetical List of Subjects | Main Library | Reading Room | Burma Press Summary

Home > Main Library > Anthropology > Anthropological literature organised by ethnic group > Karenni (Kayah)

Order links by: Reverse Date Title

Karenni (Kayah)

Individual Documents

Title: Language use and policy in a linguistically fragmented refugee community
Date of publication: November 2004
Description/subject: Abstract: "The context of this dissertation is the conflict-ridden attempt in Burma to create a unitary nation state, also the parallel attempt by the Karenni political opposition, based in refugee camps in Thailand, to create a viable nation-inopposition from the many Karenni ethnolinguistic groups. New data is presented on language use at public sites in one of the two Thailand-based Karenni refugee camps, where 11 languages are in daily use. Observations at schools, public meetings, acts of worship and shops, and exit interviews at clinics, show that public language use is dominated by the use of Karenni (Kayah), Burmese and English, with lesser-used community languages in a state of critical decline. Karenni and Burmese predominate in spoken language, while Burmese and English are the most important languages in written discourse. In schools the use of Karenni declines as students move up through the system, while the use of English and Burmese increases. Although 23% of the camp population are speakers of languages other than Karenni and Burmese, these other languages are underrepresented at the sites investigated. At schools minor languages feature mainly in the speech of students who are probably explaining to each other what their teacher is saying in Burmese or Karenni. At public meetings, minor languages play a similar role, featuring in nonofficial speech overheard by observers; official speech is dominated by Karenni and Burmese. At shops, there are clusters of locations where minor languages are used, but the vast majority of transactions are in Karenni or Burmese. Language use at Christian places of worship depends on the denomination of the church. Catholic churches use Karenni, with one or two also using Burmese; and Baptist churches use Karen with some Burmese. Written texts in churches vary, with some in Karen, some in Karenni roman script and a few in Karenni camp script. At all churches the phenomenon of congregations praying in several first languages simultaneously was observed. At clinics, the language of consultation was either Karenni or Burmese. English accounts for 31% of writing or use of written texts at the sites observed. However, the use of English as the preferred medium of instruction in upper secondary schools has been limited by lack of teachers' proficiency and lack of texts in English. Burmese continues to be the leading medium of instruction in the upper school system. About one third of the population of Kayah state has been displaced since 1996, and at least two fifths of its villages destroyed or relocated for security reasons. Many refugees have been displaced from monolingual villages. Those who now live in Karenni northern camp find themselves in a linguistically complex environment where in some cases their own language now cannot probably be used in the local shop, and is not supported in the school system at any level. Although some of these languages, for example Kayan, have quite large core communities elsewhere, some do not, and these languages must now be at risk of disappearing completely. They include Kay aw, Manaw and Bre."
Author/creator: Richard Sproat
Language: English
Source/publisher: Macquire University (dissertation)
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 09 December 2005