Lao language

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ພາສາລາວ ([pʰaːsaː laːw])
Native to Laos, Thailand, U.S., France, Canada, China, Australia
Native speakers
5,225,552 (2006), roughly 20 million if Isan speakers are included.
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1 lo
ISO 639-2 lao
ISO 639-3 lao

Lao or Laotian is a language and is the official language of Laos.[1] It is also spoken in the northeast part of Thailand[2] Lao, like all languages in Laos, is written in an abugida writing system. There are a number of variations but the Vientiane dialect is considered the standard written form of Lao.[3]

History[change | change source]

The Lao language descends from the Tai languages spoken in what is now northern Vietnam and southern China.[4] Mongol invaders and expansion in China pushed the Tai people south towards India. Their language was influenced by other languages in the region like the Mon-Khmer and Austronesian languages.[4] The written form of Lao originally came from the Pali language in India.[1] The script form was brought to the region by Buddhists about two thousand years ago.[1]

Vocabulary[change | change source]

The Lao language is mainly native Lao words. Because of Buddhism, it has been influenced by other languages, mostly religion terms. Many of these are about religion. Lao has influenced the Khmer and Thai languages and vice versa.

The writing has a large amount of foreign loanwords This is very similar to how Latin and Greek have influenced European languages. For politeness, pronouns (and more formal pronouns) are used, plus ending statements with ແດ່ (dè [dɛː]) or ເດີ້ (deu [dɤ̂ː]). Negative statements are made more polite by ending with ດອກ (dok [dɔ̭ːk]). The following are formal register examples.

  • ຂອບໃຈຫຼາຍໆເດີ້ (khop chai lai lai deu, [kʰɔ᷆ːp t͡ɕàj lǎːj lǎːj dɤ̂ː]) Thank you very much.
  • ຂ້ານ້ອຍເຮັດບໍ່ໄດ້ດອກ (khanoi hét bo dai dok, [kʰa᷆ːnɔ̂ːj hēt bɔ̄ː dâj dɔ᷆ːk]) I cannot.
  • ໄຂປະຕູໃຫ້ແດ່ (khai pa too hai dè, [kʰǎj pa.tùː ha᷆j dɛ̄ː ]) Open the door, please.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Lao Language". Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  2. "Facts about Lao". Retrieved 21 April 2016. 
  3. E K Brown; Sarah Ogilvie, Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World (Amsterdam, Netherlands; Boston, MA: Elsevier, 2009), p. 639
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Lao Language". Effective Language Learning. Retrieved 21 April 2016. 

Other websites[change | change source]