LINGUIST List 24.1323

Mon Mar 18 2013

Qs: Karen Etymology

Editor for this issue: Brent Miller <>

Date: 14-Mar-2013
From: Peter Ludlow <>
Subject: Karen Etymology
E-mail this message to a friend

My nephew has been doing some work in support of the Karen people -- principally, as I understand it, in refuge camps. There seems to be an issue about the entry for the 'Karen people/language' in the New American Oxford Dictionary, which includes this etymological note: ''from Burmese ka-reng 'wild unclean man.'''

Given that the Karen are currently the target of genocide by the Burmese government there is some unhappiness with this entry. My question is, apart from the issue of offense, is this even accurate? That is, is there solid evidence for this etymology?

Here is a link to my nephew's blog post on this:

Thanks in advance.

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics Language Family(ies): Karen

Page Updated: 18-Mar-2013