Lao Language, sometimes referred to as Laotian (ລາວ, [láːw] 'Lao' or ພາສາລາວ, [pʰáːsǎːláːw] 'Lao language'), is a Kra–Dai language of the Lao people. It is spoken in Laos, where it is the official language for around 7 million people, as well as in northeast Thailand (52% of the Lao population speak the standard variation making it the dominant language), where it is used by around 23 million people, usually referred to as Isan. Lao serves as a lingua franca among the citizens of Laos, who also speak approximately 90 other languages, many of which are unrelated to Lao.
It is a tonal and analytic language, similar to other Kra-Dai languages as well as to Chinese and Vietnamese. Spoken Lao is mutually intelligible with Thai and Isan, fellow Southwestern Tai languages, to such a degree that their speakers are able to effectively communicate with one another speaking their respective languages. These languages are written with slightly different scripts but are linguistically similar and effectively form a dialect continuum.
Although there is no official standard, the Vientiane dialect became the de facto standard language in Lao PDR, and the Khonkaen dialect became the de facto standard language in Isan in the second half of the 20th century.
Learn more Lao Language HERE
Other Lao Spoken Languages
52% is not a high number and speaks of the different ethnic groups you find in Lao. As mentioned earlier, 80 other documented minority languages are spoken, the most famous of which are Khmu and Hmong. ‘
The Khmu Language has a total of 500,000 speakers living in Northern Laos. As opposed to Kra-Dai, the Khmu language is Austroasiatic. Although Khmu is their first language, the majority of these speakers can also speak standard Vientiane Lao.
The Hmong language is another widely spoken language in the region. The people living in the mountains of Laos, Burma, Thailand, and China and are split into two groups. The white Hmong and The Green Hmong.
Basic expressions / Common Words
Good morning / Good evening Sabaï dii / None lap fan dii
How are you? Sabaï dii bo ?
Fine, thank you, and you? Sabaï dii, khop tchaï, lè tchao dè ?
I understand / I don't understand khaphachao khao tchaï / Khoï bo khao tchaï
Sorry Kho thot
Goodbye La kone
Thank you (very much) Khop tchaï laï laï
Excuse me Excuse khaphachao / Kalounaa
My name is... Khoï suu...
No thank you Bo khop tchaï
Yes / No Tchao / Bo
You're welcome Than nyinditonhab
How much is it? Laka tao daï ?
It is very cheap Bo peng
It is too expensive! Peng phôt
Can you lower the price? Lout laka daï bo ?
I would like to buy ... this one! Khaphachao yakcha su... thini
I like it / I don't like it Khaphachao hak / Khaphachao sang
I'm just looking around. Khaphachao phiangaet sokha
I would like to go to ... Diak...
Taxi Lot taxi
Bus Lot mé
I would like to rent ... Khaphachao tongkan thichahai seoa...
Motorbike Lot chak
Car Lot keng
Bike Lot thiip
Where is ...? / How can I get to ...? Bonthi pen... ? / vithikan pai... ?
Train station Satannii
Hotel Hong hèm
Hospital Hong mo
Is it close / far? Pid bo ? / kaï bo ?
Straight ahead Paï su
Left / Right Saï / khoua
North / South / East / West Thit neua / thit taï / Thit tavén ok / Thit tavén tok
Luang Prabang is the Laos Capital and also often called the ‘Heart of Laos’ and many visitors choose to come here instead of Vientiane as it is known for its gorgeous countryside and scenic views across the majestic Mekong River.
The ancestors of the Lao people were speakers of Southwestern Tai dialects that migrated from what is now southeastern China, specifically what is now Guangxi and northern Vietnam where the diversity of various Tai languages suggests an Urheimat..