Committee Begins Development of English, Myanmar, and Karen Languages Dictionary

An effort to compile Myanmar’s first dictionary for English, Myanmar, Sgaw Karen, Western Pwo Karen, and Eastern Pwo Karen languages is underway, the project’s organising committee said.

The dictionary is intended to keep an up-to-date register of the languages, as well as to make a usable resources for vocational training schools, ethnic language and literature education, and for web searches and future publications, an organizing committee representative said.

“The Ministry of Education has shown interest in our dictionary and asked us how they can assist us. The government doesn’t have any experts on ethnic affairs so they have started relying on us more. This book will become a historic volume that will last for a long time,” said Naw Pann Thinzar Myo, Karen Ethnic Affairs Minister for Yangon Region and chairperson of the dictionary’s organising committee.

The committee includes a representative from the Karen Literature and Culture Committees of Ayeyarwady, Bago, Tanintharyi, and Yangon regions and Mon State, while the chief ministers of Ayeyarwady Region and Karen State and the Ethnic Affairs Ministers of Ayeyarwady, Bago, and Tanintharyi regions and Mon State are also serving as patrons.

The committee also includes two representatives from the Sgaw Karen and Pwo Karen Baptist Convention, a representative from the Karen State’s Eastern Pwo, as well as Karen State (Eastern Pwo) representatives, donors and linguistic experts.

“Our literature and culture will be more developed and successful if the Karen people from states and regions work together,” said Gar Moe Myat Myat Thu, Ayeyarwady Region’s Karen Ethnic Affairs Minister.

The Yangon Region government has donated K5 million to support the committee’s efforts. Other notable donations included K4 million from Karen businessman Saw Palar Tu and three million kyat from Karen State Border Guard Force commander Col Saw Chit Thu. Smaller donations have also been collected from the Karen business community in Yangon.

Although religious organisations have compiled English-Sgaw Karen dictionaries and Western Pwo Karen dictionaries in the past, the endeavor marks the first time a joint dictionary for English, Myanmar, Sgaw Karen, Western Pwo Karen, and Easter Pwo Karen languages is being developed.

The project is expected to take two years, the organising committee said.

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