Laos Language

Lao Language 3

Laos Language

Lao Language 2

Laos Language

Lao Language 2

Laos Language

Lao belongs to the Tai family of languages, which includes Thai; Shan (Tai Yai), spoken in Myanmar (Burma); Phuan, spoken in Laos and parts of Thailand; and Tai Leu, spoken by the Dai minority of southern China’s Yunnan province. Besides Lao and its “cousin” languages, such as Tai Leu and Phuan, sundry other languages are spoken within the borders of Laos. These include tongues belonging to the Mon– Khmer and Tibeto– Burman families of languages which are spoken by upland tribal peoples, as well as Vietnamese and Chinese spoken by immigrants from Laos’s neighbouring countries.


The official language of Laos is Lao (pasaa Lao), a tonal Tai-Kadai language which is spoken by an estimated 15 million people in Laos and North East Thailand (Isaan), as well as in numerous diaspora communities around the world. Since the Lao language is closely related to Thai, most Lao and Thai people can understand each other relatively easily.


The Lao language may be classified into five main dialects: Vientiane Lao, Northern Lao (Luang Prabang), North Eastern Lao (Xieng Khouang), Central Lao (Khammouane) and Southern Lao (Champassak); the Lao script is based on Vientiane Lao, a dialect which is widely understood throughout the country.


There is no official Latin transliteration system for the Lao script, and although French-based transliteration is generally used there are many inconsistencies of spelling, particularly of vowels.


Lao speakers (including Lao Isaan and Lao Ngaew) are believed to make up just 52 per cent of the total population; another 15 per cent of the population is made up of other Tai-Kadai speakers, while the remaining 33 per cent comprise over 90 culturally distinct ethnic groups, many of which have their own language.


French and Vietnamese are spoken widely, particularly amongst the older generation, but English has become the language of business and tourism and is increasingly promoted at government level in the context of Lao membership of ASEAN.

Let’s speak Lao

Hello! Hi!- Chang dai ( sa bai dee)

Good morning -Sa bai dee
Good afternoon -Sa bai dee
Good evening -Sa bai dee

How are you? -Chao sa bai dee baw?
How do you do? -Chao sa bai dee baw?
I’m fine, thanks -Khoy sa bai dee, Khob chai
And you -Lae chao de:I’m fine, too -Khoy sa bai dee, keu kan
I’m pleased to meet you -Khoy dee chai lai thee dai phob chao
Good by-La kon
See you -Laew phob kan mai
What’s your name? -Chao seu gnang?
My name is…. -Khoy seu….
What’s his/her name? -Lao/nang seu gnang?
How old are you? -Chao a: gnu chak pee?
I’m twenty years old -Khoy a: gnu sao pee
Are you married? -Cha sang khob khua laew baw
Yes/no -Sang laew/ gnang baw sang
Where is the taxi station -sathanee lod taxi yu sai
How far from here to…?-Kai pan dai chak nee pai ha…?
How much to…? -Thao dai/chak kip pai ha…?
Too expensive -Pheng lai/ pheng thae
Where is the bus station? -Sa tha nee lod me: yu sai?
What time will the bus leave?-Lod me: cha awk chak mong?
How much is the fare? -Pee lod thao dai?
Does this bus go to? -Lod nee cha pai thang dai?
Where can we get on the boat? -Phuak hao cha pai kheun heua yu sai?
What time does it leave? -Chak mong heua cha awk?
Where can I buy a plane ticket? -khoy sa mad pai seu pee heua bin yu sai?
Is there any hotels/guest house near by? -Yu nee mee hong haem/ban phak baw?
Can I/we stay here? -Khoy /phuak hao phak yu nee dai baw?
Do you have a room? -Chao mee hong phak baw?
How much per night? -Kheun neung thao dai?
Do you have any other room? -Chao mee hong eun eek baw?


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