Lao (ພາສາລາວ)
Spoken by: ~ 5 million, ~ 20 million if Isaan speakers are included
Spoken in: Laos, Thailand, Cambodia
Language family: Tai-Kadai
  • Tai
  • Southwestern Thai
  • Lao–Phutai

Lao, sometimes referred to as Laotian (ລາວ 'Lao' or ພາສາລາວ 'Lao language') is a tonal language of the Kra–Dai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and it is also spoken in northeast Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language. A language of the ethnic Lao people, Lao serves as a lingua franca in among all citizens of Laos. Approximately 90 different languages are spoken within its borders, many of which are unrelated to Lao. Modern Lao (language) is heavily influenced by the Thai language. A vast number of technical terms as well as common usage are adopted directly from Thai.

See also Basic Lao Phrases

Phonology Edit

Lao has 37 consonants including the 7 consonantal ligatures and 33 vowels.

Grammar Edit

Orthography Edit

The official writing system for Lao is Laotian script. Here are the Lao letters:

Consonants Sound - Lao letter Transcription: ??

K - k | Kh - kʰ| Kh - kʷʰ | Ng - ŋ | Ch - tɕ | S - s | S - x | Gn - ɲ |


Lao text

Common difficulties Edit

The Foreign Service Institute has classified Lao as a "Hard" language. It is estimated that learning Lao to a Professional Working Proficiency in the language (a score of Speaking-3/Reading-3 on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale) will take an average of 44 weeks (1100 class hours).[1]

Resources Edit

There is an Foreign Service Institute course for Lao.

There is an article in Wikipedia on the Lao language

Omniglot: Lao script pronunciation and writing

References Edit

  1. U.S. Department of State; FSI's Experience with Language Learning;
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