Karen Titles

I am working at learning names but continue to discover the nuances of titles with Burmese names.   This weekend I talked to Po Kwah Kyi and heard him refer to himself as [Poe Kwah].  I asked him and he said the Kyi [Jee] is a title meaning “older brother”.   I called him this because I learned his name from his younger brother who is currently a high school student  in Indiana.

Poe Kwah, Trained to be a Teacher in Burma

Poe Kwah, Trained to be a Teacher in Burma

Saw Phillip  is another Burmese friend.  The Saw in his name is actually a part of his given name.  Usually “Saw” appended to a name is like our title for Mister.

Philip Saw

Saw Philip

Last year we had a 60 year old man attending the church name Sao Taw Oo.  This variation of “Sao” is a title of respect given to older men.  I would hear people actually call him Mr. Sao Taw Oo.   But last month while visiting,  I noticed his friends in Tennessee now just call him Taw Oo.    Kyaw Eh Zu and Kya Eh Zu are the same person.  In his case, Kya [jah], is used more like Master in our culture, meaning young man.

Eh Zu

Eh Zu

I believe Moo is a title for a young girl, and Paw may be a title for a mother.    Sometimes titles are at the end of names and sometimes at the beginning.

Most of the Burmese have a single name composed of several syllables but it is often arbitrarily “americanized” by health, relief agencies and other workers into a first and last name.


About johnmcmurphy

Jesus is first and foremost in my life. He is above all religions, principalities and powers. In everything He must increase and I must decrease. Into the hands of Jesus, God has placed life and death, truth and purity. strength and meaning. Only in a growing understanding of the triune God, and his son Jesus can I do, breathe, exist and serve. I have a Bachelor's degree in Bible from Vennard College, a Master's in Social Science from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph. D. from Ohio State in Family Relations and Human Development. I am an ordained pastor involved in cross-cultural ministry. I am currently employed at several colleges as an instructor. If you need to get in touch with me, just leave a comment, I screen all comments and so you can leave further contact information which I will erase before it is published. -John

Posted on February 16, 2009, in K-L, O-P, S, T-U, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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