Wondering about the beautiful Lao words to use when speaking with the locals? In this post, we’ll review the ten most interesting ones we believe every language learner will appreciate. If you’re up for that and more, keep reading below! We got you covered!
Laos, an overlooked country in Southeast Asia, is one of the most stunning places you’ll ever be able to visit in this part of the world. From the lush green jungles to the peaceful countryside and vibrant city streets, this incredible country has everything you can look for in an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Besides having a rich cultural heritage, the people’s warm and welcoming nature makes this country an incredible and unique destination. If you haven’t been to this part of the world yet, it should be on your travel list!
While Laos’s breathtaking beauty will undoubtedly captivate your senses, the country’s language is equally fascinating. Lao is a tonal language, and the words’ melody can change the meaning of the whole sentence, making it an absolute joy to listen to. Despite the added difficulty, this tonal character gives the language a true rollercoaster feel.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Lao language is that it has some beautiful words that don’t have an exact translation in English. When I talk about beauty in language, I’m referring to the intrinsic meaning of the world, capturing emotions and transmitting feelings or ideas in a way impossible (or standard) to do in English.
As an example, on my last trip to Vientiane, I was fortunate enough to learn this simple sentence – ຮັກແພງກັນ (Hak Paeng Gan), which loosely translates to “I love you guys.” I found myself using this phrase all the time with the new friends I made. Every time I said it, their face lit up, creating an instant bond between us. It’s one of the reasons why I still talk with them today, despite being miles apart.
Unfortunately, many beautiful words like ຮັກແພງກັນ (Hak Paeng Gan) in Lao have no direct translation into English. While it’s possible to express similar ideas in English, the meaning and sentiment are not precisely the same. It’s a shame that such exquisite words exist, but we don’t have them in our language.
Today, we’ll explore ten of these beautiful words and give you a rough translation of what it means in English so you can use them the next time you visit Laos.
Ready? ໂຊກດີ! (sok dee)
Beautiful Lao Words
Let’s learn some beautiful Lao phrases that will leave you with a smile when you discover their meaning.
ຝາດ / Fadt
We’ll start our way to beautiful words in Lao but talking about food. This is the best way to start, right? Fadt is a type of taste that is rarely found in western countries. It is when some tropical fruits and nuts leave your mouth dry and tingly after you eat them. This mouthfeel has its name in Lao and is desirable or “sep lai” (delicious).
ເງີງາກສາມລໍ້ / Ngeu Ngak Sam Law
If you look at this sentence, you get the English translation “three wheels.” However, for Laotian people, this expression describes someone looking around to find their way.
ບໍ່ຕ້ອງຄິດຫຼາຍ / Bo Dtong Kit Lai
Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed and confused during your trip to Laos. This is the time to think about this sentence which roughly means, “don’t overthink.”
ຢູ່ລ້າໆ / Yu La La
This funny expression doesn’t mean the same as “Oh la la” used in the west. Instead, it means “nothing to do” and describes the time you have, free time, and your only task is breathing.
ເຫັນດີ / ເຫັນບໍ່ດີ / Hen Dee / Bo Hen Dee
So these two expressions contradict each other. Hen Dee means “see good,” while Bo Hen Dee means “not see good,” and they are used to agree and disagree with someone.
ຄັກຫລາຍ / Khek lai
Imagine your friend just got his first house, and you want to show him how cool the news is. Use the sentence “Khaki Lai,” which translates to something like “Awesome!” in English.
ເຈັບອອດໆແອດໆ / Jep Od Od Et Et
As we age, we start to discover new pain everywhere in our bodies. From our back to our hip down to our knees, aging starts to bring new aches. This is what Jep Od Od Et Et is used to describe.
ຮັກແພງກັນ / Hak Paeng Gan
Like I told you before, Hak Paeng Gan is a sentence used to describe your appreciation for your relationship with someone. You used it to show how happy you are to know and interact with someone, and in English, it means something like “I love you guys!”
ມ່ວນບໍ່ / Muan Baw?
Muan is simply something good or fun, so for Laotian people, life should be mean. You should do many things and avoid Baw muan things and situations.
ຂໍເງິນກິນເບຍ / Khor Ngun Kin Beer
Although the sentence translates to “Can I please have some money to drink beer?” it is used to ask for pocket change in Laos.
ຈັງໃດສ່ຽວ / Jung Dai Siew
To finish our list of beautiful words and expressions in Lao comes Jun Gai Siew, which is equivalent to the friendly “What’s up, man?”
Learn More About Lao With Ling
Exploring the Lao language and discovering its hidden treasures has been exciting. I hope this article has inspired you to learn more about this beautiful language and the culture behind it. If this article has convinced you to start learning more about the Lao language and Lao people, I have the perfect tool for you: Ling! The Ling app is a language learning application that offers over 60 languages to choose from.
You can learn Lao and explore its grammar, vocabulary, culture, and pronunciation with Ling.
- Grammar: Master Lao grammar’s intricacies and understand the language’s nuances.
- Vocabulary: Expand your vocabulary and learn how to use Lao expressions in context.
- Culture: Learn about Lao culture and the unique customs and traditions of the country.
- Pronunciation: Perfect your pronunciation and speak Lao with confidence.
Learning a new language can be daunting, but it’s never been easier with Ling. You can learn at your own pace, anytime and anywhere. With interactive lessons, quizzes, and games, you’ll stay engaged and motivated throughout your learning journey.
Whether you want to travel to Laos or connect with Lao speakers in your community, learning Lao with Ling App is an excellent way to start.
Have a nice day ມີວັນທີ່ດີ! (mi van thidi)