In general, Lao in the Lao P.D.R. has been influenced by French while Lao in Northeastern Thailand has been influenced by Thai and English. Some major differences are as follows:

-Words borrowed from European languages have the French pronunciation in Laos but the English pronunciation in Thailand. An example is “wine” which is waeng in Laos and wai in Thailand. (Note that nasalized French endings become “ng” in Laos.)

-Lao speakers in Thailand use Thai words for some common nouns rather than the Lao word. Examples are “paper” (jia in Laos, gra-dat in Thailand), “book” (peum in Laos, nang-seu in Thailand), and “bread” (kao-jee in Laos and ka-nom pang in Thailand). Lao speakers in Thailand may also use the Thai phrases for “hello” and “thank you”.

-Words in Laos taken from Vietnamese and not used in Thailand are feuh for “noodle soup” (called guay-tio in Thailand) and viak for “work”. (“To work” is hayt-viak in Laos and hayt-ngan in Lao-speaking Thailand.)

-Official words such as “province” and “district” follow the Thai designation in Thailand. The systems for telling time are also different in the two countries.

-Two common words are pronounced differently: the Mekong River is called Mae-nam Kawng in Laos and Mae-nam Kong in Thailand, and the word for the Laotian string-tying ceremony is ba-see in Laos and bai-see in Thailand.


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