LAOS LANGUAGE

LAOS LANGUAGE

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 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 divided 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.

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