telebikun (telebikun) wrote in linguaphiles,

Karenni (Kayah Li?)

Hi, all,

I'm going to be doing some volunteer work shortly, mentoring some newly-arrived Karenni refugees from Burma, and I've been told that the family speaks little-to-no-English.

I speak no Karenni, and only a few words of Burmese, so I'm desperately trying to find any resources I can on the language. I've done some online research, but haven't come up with much--even the usual missionaries don't seem to have much info available, and there's widespread confusion about what language the surprisingly diverse population that gets called Karenni actually speaks.

I found David Solnit's Eastern Kayah Li, which appears to be just about the only reference grammar available on these languages, but I'm not sure how useful it's going to be -- I don't know how common Eastern Kayah Li is, nor whether it's mutually intelligible with Western Kayah Li, Karen, or other related languages.

Not surprisingly, the NGO I'm volunteering for has little specific information about this family's ethnolinguistic situation to offer.

So does anyone in this fine community have any advice? Do you know any Karenni people? If so, what language do they speak, and where can I learn it?

Many thanks!

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