Learn Lao

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About Lao

Lao is the official language of Laos and is also spoken in north east Thailand. The language is so closely related to Thai that speakers of these languages can understand each other to a high degree. This is partly because Lao has borrowed lots of words from Thai. It also borrows from Sanskrit and Pali. Lao is a tonal language: the six tones help differentiate meaning in a largely monosyllabic vocabulary. The Vientiane dialect is generally considered the standard dialect, although this is not officially the case.

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Fun facts — Lao

  • Laos is known as the 'land of a million elephants', a translation of the name for an ancient Lao empire, Lan Xan.
  • In Lao, there are no spaces between words: a space indicates the end of a phrase.
  • There have been attempts recently to officially reduce the number of consonants in Lao, as many of them indicate the same sound.

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