The “Lao” Language

"Lao", sometimes called Laotian, is the official language of Laos. It is also spoken in north-eastern Thailand, Myanmar, southern China and north-western Vietnam.

Dating back to the 13th century, the Lao language is a member of the Tai-Kadai (*) language family. It has been influenced by Pali (**), Thai and Khmer due to the proximity of the countries.

Lao is a tonal language, in which the pitch or tone of a word can change its meaning.

Akson Lao (Lao: ອັກສອນລາ) is the main script. Its alphabet contains 27 consonants and is divided into three tone classes: high (ສູງ [sǔːŋ]), medium (ກາງ [kaːŋ]) and low (ຕ່ຳ [tām]). 


(*) Tai-Kadai is a family of languages found in southern China, northeastern India and much of Southeast Asia.

(**) Pali is the ancient South Asian language in which the sacred texts of Buddhism are written.