THE LAO LANGUAGE
The Lao language, spoken by 3 million people worldwide, is the official language of Laos. There are also Lao speakers in Thailand, China, France, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Canada, and the United States. Because of their proximity, the languages of Thai and Lao share several words, and the majority of their basic vocabulary is the same. Lao also has influences from the Pali and Khmer languages.
There are six main dialects of Lao, and the Vientiane dialect, named for Laos’ capital city, is the standard, most widely understood version. It is also the dialect on which written Lao is based.