CONSONANTS | VOWELS | NUMERALS | PECULIARITIES | TONES | THAI | DEVANAGARI | KHMER | CHINESE | BURMESE

LAO SCRIPT 

       

 

າສາລາວ

Introduction

This section is intended as a reference and aid to help recognize and determine the transcription of certain Lao words in the lexicon. Lao is a tonal language and there are five main tones with one having sub tones, the main tones being high, low, middle, falling and rising, with the falling tone being divided in a high falling and low falling tone. The meaning of a word changes according to its tone. These details are lost when transcribing into Latin script. So seemingly similar words in Latin script may be different when read in Lao script. Consonants belong to a certain class of tone. The word-tone will be determined by this class and the changes to it are influenced by the vowels and consonants following it, or by ‘tone marks’.  In the section ‘tone rules’ the expression a ‘living sound’ refers to a sound that has either an open syllable ending on a long vowel or vowel combination (e.g. phaa, pai) or a closed syllable which end sound is nasal and reverberates (e.g. phaan, ping). With a ‘dead sound’ we refer to a sound that has a closed syllable ending with an occlusive and does not reverberate (e.g. phat) or a sound that has an open syllable ending on a short vowel that does not reverberate, possibly with a glottal stop (e.g. dja). Note that most of the sounds and tone marks are the same as in Thai, but that they often react differently and thus have another outcome. The script used is the Lao UI System. See also comparative language list.

Consonants

  • ..... k (hard g)
  • ..... kh
  • ..... kh
  • ..... ng
  • ..... ch (hard j)
  • ..... s
  • ..... s
  • ..... ny
  • ..... d
  • ..... t
  • ..... th
  • ..... th
  • ..... n
  • ..... b
  • ..... p
  • ..... ph
  • ..... f
  • ..... ph
  • ຟ ..... f
  • ..... m
  • ..... y
  • ..... l
  • ..... w
  • ..... h
  • ..... (is, or used with, a vowel)
  • ..... h

Note: There is also a letter ‘r’ (), but the ‘r’ as a sound doesn't exist in Lao and the sign for ‘r’ () is thus used only in foreign words, written in Lao script.

 

Vowels

  • ..... o (cons. used as a vowel)
  • ..... a
  • ອັ ..... a
  • ..... aa (ah)
  • ອຳ ..... am
  • ອິ ..... i
  • ອີ ..... ie (ih)
  • ອຶ ..... eu
  • ອື ..... euh
  • ..... oe
  • ..... oeh
  • ..... e (eh)
  • ..... e/ay (short)
  • ເອັ ..... e/ay (short)
  • ..... ae (long)
  • ..... ae (short)
  • ..... aeo (aew)
  • ອົ ..... o (short)
  • ໂອ ..... oo (oh - long)
  • ໂອະ ..... o (short)
  • ໂອ..... ohy
  • າະ ..... o (aw short)
  • ..... o (short)
  • ອຍ ..... oy
  • ເອິ ..... eu
  • ເອີ ..... euh
  • ເອີ ..... euy
  • ເອັ ..... ia (short)
  • ເອ ..... ia (long)
  • ..... ia (long)
  • ..... io (long)
  • ເອີ ..... eua
  • ອົ ..... ua (long)
  • ອົ ..... ua (short)
  • -ວ- ..... ua (cons. used as a vowel)
  • ..... ai (ay)
  • ..... ai (ay)
  • ເອົ..... ao

Note: all the above the vowels arte written together with the special consonant-vowel ອ, but can be used in combination with any other consonant.

 

Numerals

  ..... 1

..... 2

..... 3

..... 4

..... 5

..... 6

..... 7

..... 8

..... 9

..... 0

 

Peculiarities

  • ຫຼ ..... l used as high class consonant, also written ຫລ
  • ຫລ ..... l used as high class consonant (=+), also written ຫຼ
  • ..... n used as high class consonant (=+)
  • ..... m used as high class consonant (=+)
  • ..... mai tan takaat, kahran (silences or changes final sound)
  • ..... yamok (used for repetition)

 

Tones (marks and rules)

    Tone marks:

  • ..... mai ayk
  • ..... mai tho

    Tone rules:

High tone class

Mid tone class Low tone class

ຖ ຂ ຫ ຜ ກ ຈ ດ ຕ ບ ປ ອ ຢ

  ງ ຊ ຍ ທມ ລ ວ
living sound = rising tone      

dead sound (short vowel) = high tone

dead sound (long vowel) = low falling tone

 

 

= mid tone

= low falling tone

living sound = rising/low tone

dead sound (short vowel) = high tone

dead sound (long vowel) = low falling tone

 

 

= mid tone

= high falling tone

living sound = high tone         

dead sound (short vowel) = mid tone

dead sound (long vowel) = high falling tone

 

 

= mid tone

= high falling tone

Note: The tone for certain words may be different from region to region, e.g. the tone for one word with a certain pronunciation characteristic may be high for one region but low in another.