The Lao language consists primarily of native Lao words. Because of Buddhism, however, Pali has contributed numerous terms, especially relating to religion and in conversation with members of the Sangha. Due to their geographic proximity, Lao has influenced the Khmer and Thai languages and vice versa.

Formal writing has a larger amount of foreign loanwords, especially Pali and Sanskrit terms, much as Latin and Greek have influenced European languages.

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