Laotian language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken in

LaosLaos Laos , Thailand
speaker 3.3 million native speakers; min. 800,000 second speakers (excluding Isan )
Official status
Official language in LaosLaos Laos
Recognized minority /
regional language in
VietnamVietnam Vietnam
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Laotian language ( ພາ ສາ ລາວ - phasa lao; also: Lao) is the state language of Laos and is closely related to Thai .


Lao belongs to the Tai branch of the Tai Kadai language family .

Geographical distribution

Geographical distribution of the Lao language:
  • Majority language
  • Minority language
  • Lao is spoken by the people north and south of the Mekong in Laos and Thailand . There is a dialect continuum between Thai and Lao, between the two is the Isan dialect of northeast Thailand.


    The Laotian language knows numerous dialects, with the greatest differences between the dialects spoken in northern Laos and those spoken in central and southern Laos. The northern dialects have five tones, the southern ones have six tones.

    Phonetics and Phonology

    Lao as a spoken language (Wikitongues project)

    Lao is a tonal language . Another special feature compared to European languages ​​is that the plosives not only have two rows (voiceless – voiced), but three rows (aspirated – voiceless – voiced).

    Standard Lao, the dialect of Vientiane , has six tones: low, medium, high, rising, high and rising, low and falling. There are five tones in the dialect of Luang Prabang : medium falling and rising, low rising, medium, high falling, medium rising.


    Lao is an isolating language that knows neither declension nor conjugation . Tense and number etc. do not change the words. Lao has no articles and no grammatical gender .

    The basic word order in the sentence is subject – verb – object


    The Lao vocabulary contains many loan words from Pali and Sanskrit. Hereditary words in the basic vocabulary are mostly monosyllabic.


    Letter k in Lao script
    The country name Laos in Lao script

    The Laotian script is an Abugida and belongs to the Brahmi or Indian scriptures family . The script has 33 consonants (the letter R is not always included) and 28 vowels .

    The signs for vowels are arranged differently to the consonant depending on the vowel: the sign is in front of, behind, above, below, or (in this case as two or three characters) around the consonant. If the spoken syllable begins with a vowel, a "silent" (not pronounced) consonant is written with it. Some vowels are written with different characters, depending on whether the syllable ends in this vowel or in a consonant. The tone of a syllable is made clear by the combination of the vowel and the consonant (s) and partly by means of diacritics .


    The following table lists the consonants of the Lao alphabet as well as their pronunciation at the beginning of the syllable in phonetic transcription and the transcription systems of the British Permanent Committee on Geographical Names , the US Board on Geographic Names ( BGN / PCGN ), the Library of Congress ( ALA- LC ) and - if available - the transcription that is used in the Unicode names of the letters. (After the slash there is the transcription at the end of the syllable.)

    Laotian IPA BGN / PCGN ALA-LC Unicode
    k k k / k k
    kh kh / k kh
    kh kh / k kh
    ŋ ng ng / ng ng
    t͡ɕ ch ch / t c
    s s s / t s
    s x s / t s
    ɲ ng / y ny / - ny
    d d / t d / t d
    t t t / t t
    th th / t th
    th th / t th
    n n n / n n
    b b / p b / p b
    p p p / p p
    ph ph / p ph
    f f f / p f
    ph ph / p ph
    f f f / p f
    m m m / m m
    j y y y
    r r r r
    l l l l
    w v / o v w
    H H H H
    - - O
    H H H H


    The following table lists the vowel signs of the Lao alphabet, each connected with the consonant ກ. Vowel signs can appear above, below, before and after the consonant after which they are spoken, and combinations are also possible.

    IPA BGN LC Unicode IPA BGN LC Unicode IPA BGN LC Unicode IPA BGN LC Unicode
    ກະ / ກັກ a a a a ກາ a - aa
    ກິ i i i i ກີ i ī ii ເກັຽ ະ / ກັຽກ ia ia ເກັຽ / ກຽກ ia īa
    ກຶ ɯ u ư y ກື ɯː u ư̄ yy ເກຶ ອະ / ເກຶອກ ɯə among others ưa ເກືອ among others ư̄a
    ກຸ u ou u u ກູ ou ū uu ກົວະ / ກັວກ oua among others ກົວ / ກວກ oua ūa
    ເກະ / ເກັກ e é e ເກ é ē e
    ແກະ / ແກັກ ɛ è æ ແກ ɛː è ǣ egg
    ໂກະ / ກົກ O O O ໂກ O O O O
    ເກາະ / ກັອກ ɔ O ǫ ກໍ / ກອກ ɔː O ǭ
    ເກິ ະ / ເກິກ ɤ eu œ ເກີ / ເກ ືກ ɤː eu œ̄
    ໄກ / ໃກ / ກ ັ ຢ ai ai ai ai / ay ກາ ຢ / ກາ ຽ ai āi
    ເກົາ ouch ao ao
    ກໍາ at the at the at the at the


    Laotian transcription German
    ມະ ນຸດ ທຸກ ຄົນ ເກີດ ມາ ມີ ກຽດ ສັກ ສີ ສິດ ທິ ເສຣີ ພາບ ແລະ ຄວາມ ສ ເມີ ພາບ ເທົ່າ ທຽມ ກັນ ທຸກໆ ຄົນ ມີ ເຫດ ຜົນ ແລະ ແລະ ຄວາມ ຄິດ ຄວາມ ເຫັນ ສ່ວນ ຕົວ ຂອງ ໃຜ ຂອງ ມັນ ແຕ່ ວ່າ ມະ ນຸດ ທຸກໆ ກັນ ຄວນ ເປັນ ຄື ຕໍ່ ຕໍ່ ຕໍ່ ຄວນ ເປັນ ຄື ຕໍ່ ຕໍ່ ຕໍ່ ຄວນ ເປັນ ຄື ຕໍ່ ຕໍ່ ຄວນ ເປັນ ພຶດ ຕໍ່ ຕໍ່ Manut tʰuk kʰôn kœ̄t māmīkẏat sâk sī, sittʰi, sēlī pʰôp læ kʰwôm smœ̄ pʰôp tʰàw tʰẏam kân. Tʰuk tʰuk kʰôn mīhēt pʰôn læ kʰwômkʰit kʰwôm hian swàn tôw kʰɔ̄̄ṅ pʰai kʰɔ̄ṅ mân, tǣ̀vồ manut tʰuk tʰuk kʰôn kʰwan papʰʉt tàṁ kân kʰʉ̄ kân kâp pianốy nɔ̄́ṅ All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should meet one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    See also


    • Boike Rehbein; Sisouk Sayaseng: Laotian grammar: phonology, form theory and pragmatics . Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-87548-322-7 .
    • Boike Rehbein; Sisouk Sayaseng: Dictionary Lao-German, German-Lao . Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-87548-185-2 .
    • Tatsuo Hoshino; Russell Marcus: Lao for beginners: an introduction to the spoken and written language of Laos . Boston 2000, ISBN 0-8048-1629-8 .
    • Julien Joseph Hospitalier: Grammaire laotienne . Imprimerie National, P. Geuthner, Paris 1937.
    • Pamela Sue Wright: A Lao grammar for language learners . Thammasat University , Bangkok, ISBN 1-131-15788-5 .
    • Samson A. Brier: The Lao Phrase Book . Chiang Mai 2005. ISBN 974-93612-1-0

    To Romanization

    • Lao (PDF; 77 kB) In: Report on the current status of United Nations romanization systems for geographical names - this document refers to the Lao Commission Nationale de Toponymie . There is no Lao romanization system officially adopted by the UN.
    • Lao. (PDF; 151 kB) Library of Congress romanization table
    • Lao. (PDF; 107 kB) Unicode code chart

    Web links

    Individual evidence

    1. a b Lao. Ethnologue , accessed on October 20, 2013 (English).
    2. Nick J. Enfield: How to define 'Lao', 'Thai', and 'Isan' Language? A View from Linguistic Science. In: Tai Culture . tape 7 , no. 1 , 2002, p. 62–67 ( [PDF; 256 kB ; accessed on February 12, 2019]).
    3. ^ A b Romanization System for Lao - BGN / PCGN 1966 Agreement. (PDF; 476 kB) (No longer available online.) US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency , archived from the original on November 7, 2013 ; accessed on October 20, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
    4. a b Lao romanization table. (PDF; 154 kB) US Library of Congress , accessed on October 20, 2013 (English).