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Lao language facts for kids

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ພາສາລາວ, Phasa Lao
Lao in Phetsarath OT.png
Native to Laos
Thailand (Isan)
Cambodia (Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri)
Ethnicity Lao
Native speakers 30 million  (date missing)
Language family
  • Tai
    • Southwestern Tai (Thai)
      • Lao–Phutai
        • Lao
Northern Lao (Louang Phrabang Lao)
Northeastern Lao
Central Lao (Phuan)
Southern Lao
Western Lao
Writing system Lao script in Laos
Thai script in Thailand
Thai and Lao Braille
Official status
Official language in  Laos
Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN
Recognised minority language in  Thailand
Regulated by Educational Science Research Institute, Ministry of Education and Sports
Institute of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, National University of Laos
Linguasphere 47-AAA-c
Idioma lao.png

Lao or Laotian is a language and is the official language of Laos. It is also spoken in the northeast part of Thailand. Lao, like the other languages of Laos, is written in an abugida writing system. The languages has variations, but the Vientiane dialect is considered the standard written form of Lao.

Lao and Thai are both Tai languages and are very similar to each other. In fact, speakers of northern Thai dialects and Lao claim that they can largely understand each other, making the dialects mutually intelligible.


Lao is one of the Tai languages, spoken in what is now northern Vietnam and southern China. Mongol invaders and expansion in China pushed the Tai people south towards India. Their language was influenced by other languages in the region like the Mon-Khmer and the Austronesian languages. The written form of Lao originally came from the Pali language in India. The script form was brought to the region by Buddhists about two thousand years ago.


Lao has mainly native Lao words. Because of Buddhism, however, it has been influenced by other languages that contributed mostly religious terms. Lao has influenced Khmer and Thai and vice versa. The writing has many foreign loanwords, very similar to how Latin and Greek have influenced other European languages.

For politeness, pronouns (and more formal pronouns) are used, as well as ending statements with ແດ່ (dè) or ເດີ້ (deu). Negative statements are made more polite by ending with ດອກ (dok). The following are formal register examples.

  • ຂອບໃຈຫຼາຍໆເດີ້ (khop chai lai lai deu) Thank you very much.
  • ຂ້ານ້ອຍເຮັດບໍ່ໄດ້ດອກ (khanoi hét bo dai dok) I cannot.
  • ໄຂປະຕູໃຫ້ແດ່ (khai pa too hai dè) Open the door, please.

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Lao language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.