Lao language

Lao, sometimes referred to as Laotian (ລາວ, [láːw] 'Lao' or ພາສາລາວ, [pʰáːsǎːláːw] 'Lao language'), is a Kra–Dai language of the Lao people. It is spoken in Laos, where it is the official language for around 7 million people, as well as in northeast Thailand, where it is used by around 23 million people, usually referred to as Isan. Lao serves as a lingua franca among the citizens of Laos, who also speak approximately 90 other languages, many of which are unrelated to Lao.[3]

ພາສາລາວ, Phasa Lao
Pronunciationpʰáːsǎː láːw
Native toLaos, Isan
Native speakers
30 million[1]
Lao script in Laos
Thai script in Thailand
Thai and Lao Braille
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
 Thailand (Isan)
(native to provinces of Steung Treng, Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri)
Regulated byEducational Science Research Institute, Ministry of Education and Sports
Institute of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, National University of Laos
Language codes
ISO 639-1lo
ISO 639-2lao
ISO 639-3Either:
lao  Laotian Lao
tts  Isan (Thailand Lao)
Glottologlaoo1244  Lao
nort2741  Northeastern Thai
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A Lao speaker.

It is a tonal and analytic language, similar to other Kra-Dai languages as well as to Chinese and Vietnamese.[4] Spoken Lao is mutually intelligible with Thai and Isan, fellow Southwestern Tai languages, to such a degree that their speakers are able to effectively communicate with one another speaking their respective languages. These languages are written with slightly different scripts but are linguistically similar and effectively form a dialect continuum.[5]

Although there is no official standard, the Vientiane dialect became the de facto standard language in the second half of the 20th century.[6]