Are you having difficulties moving on with your Lao language learning lessons? Don’t worry. Getting stuck on one page and not knowing what to do next is a typical phase in every learning sphere. Therefore, to give you a new opening, we suggest you learn some amusing Lao proverbs with their proper meanings and translations that Lao people use daily. Understanding proverbs is an excellent way of getting the hang of the language as well as the lifestyle of the Laotian people.
In simple words, we know that proverbs are sayings that are short and state a general piece of advice or truth. Such phrases can make unique sense in different scenarios, and when it comes to Lao culture, Lao sayings have an exalted position. The local people use many expressions and make it a way of teaching the younger ones and giving advice creatively.
Thus, learning some Lao proverbs like ປາທີ່ເນົ່າເປື່ອຍໂຕດຽວເຮັດໃຫ້ກະຕ່າເປື່ອຍບໍ່ດີ– “A single rotten fish makes a basketful turn bad” and ເມື່ອນ້ຳຂຶ້ນ, ປາກິນມົດ; ເມື່ອນ້ຳຕົກ, ມົດຈະກິນປາ– “When the water rises, the fish eat the ants; when the water falls, the ants eat the fish” will help you speak Laotian fluently and also make you aware of the beliefs of the Lao people. So, let’s get started!
Why Are Laotian Proverbs Important?
Before we hop into the translations, let us try to understand why proverbs are essential and what they tell us.
We know proverbs are short sayings with hidden meanings. What makes such short phrases significant is their beautiful essence concerning the culture with rich meaning that can be transferred distinctly. Sometimes only uttering words cannot suffice. The beauty lies in how you use the words and enrich them with meanings that can only be understood when human beings feel such expressions.
Especially in Lao culture, where people have long love and respect for their traditions and culture, proverbs play an important role in encouraging good deeds and removing anti-social behavior through words and expressions. It connects deeply to humans’ psychological and historical roots and brings out the wisdom of the past. Therefore, you will see many locals use sayings in their day-to-day life.
Moreover, if you plan to visit Laos soon, this is one of the best ways to adapt to the beliefs of the locals and become aware of their way of living and level of wisdom. It will also increase your knowledge in general and help you comprehend the country and its roots.
Classic Lao Proverbs You Need To Know
Now, we will go through some of the all-time best sayings of the Lao people with their translations and meaning. Learning these will genuinely give you a deeper insight into the Laotian population’s language, culture, and behavior. Moreover, the everyday understanding of these sayings will also give you an idea of the behavior worldwide. Let’s begin!
Translation– The voice of a poor man does not carry very far
It is pronounced siang khong khon thuk nyak bo dai pai kai and has a profound meaning that tries to showcase inequality in the country and the world. It infers that only the wealthy and affluent have a say in everything, and the voice of a poor man is invariably shunned.
2. ເຖິງແມ່ນວ່າຜູ້ທີ່ຍ່າງຕາມຫຼັງຊ້າງອາດຈະມີຄວາມປອດໄພຫຼາຍ, ແຕ່ລາວອາດຈະຖືກຂີ້ຕົມເປື້ອນ
Translation– Although he who walks behind an elephant may feel very secure, he is likely to get splattered with elephant dung
This proverb, pronounced as thoeng aemn va phu thi nyang tam rang sang ad cha mi khuaam pod phai rai aet lav ad cha thuk khi tom peuon, is another very meaningful saying that talks about coming out of your comfort zone. It tries to express that hindrances will always come in your life. So, taking no risk at all is not always a good alternative.
3. ເມື່ອນ້ຳຂຶ້ນ, ປາກິນມົດ; ເມື່ອນ້ຳຕົກ, ມົດຈະກິນປາ
Translation– When the water rises, the fish eat the ants; when the water falls, the ants eat the fish
Another very strong saying that is quite common in all around the world is ເມື່ອນ້ຳຂຶ້ນ, ປາກິນມົດ; ເມື່ອນ້ຳຕົກ, ມົດຈະກິນປາ- meuon am khun pa kin mod meuon am tok mod chakin pa. It says that life gives opportunities to everyone. And to grab that chance and live your life, you need to wait patiently for your turn and thrive for it.
Translation– An empty pot makes the loudest noise
Have you ever heard your grandparents say that intelligent people are equal to actions, not words? Like that saying, mo peoa hedhai siangdang thisud is one of the standard Laotian proverbs that says people who are too loud or talk a lot do not show signs of leadership and intelligence. Thus, the one who is empty inside is the one who is the loudest.
5. ເມື່ອຄວາຍຕໍ່ສູ້, ແມ່ນຫຍ້າທີ່ທົນທຸກ
Translation– When the buffaloes fight, it is the grass that suffers
Another interesting proverb, meu khuaai tosu aemn ja thi thon thuk, leaves a piece of political advice that conveys that when powerful people fight, it only hurts the lower vulnerable ones. Similar to the saying that when two elephants fight, it only ruins the grass.
6. ຟັງດ້ວຍຫູດຽວ; ຈະສົງໃສກັບຄົນອື່ນ
Translation– Listen with one ear; be suspicious with the other
The old saying ຟັງດ້ວຍຫູດຽວ; ຈະສົງໃສກັບຄົນອື່ນ- fang duany hu diav cha songsai kab khonun, means that you should always listen to what other’s have to say but never believe them without a doubt. In simple terms, never blindly believe what people have to say!
7. ທ່ານສາມາດງໍກິ່ງງ່າອ່ອນໄດ້, ແຕ່ມັນຍາກທີ່ຈະງໍຕົ້ນໄມ້ເກົ່າ
Translation– You can bend a young twig, but it is hard to bend an old tree
ທ່ານສາມາດງໍກິ່ງງ່າອ່ອນໄດ້, ແຕ່ມັນຍາກທີ່ຈະງໍຕົ້ນໄມ້ເກົ່າ, pronounced as thansamad ngo king nga n dai aetman nyakthicha ngo tonmai keoa has an exciting meaning hidden in its words. It says it is easier to manipulate and influence younger people than older ones who have already experienced enough.
8. ຄົນໜຶ່ງຕ້ອງຂ້າມນ້ຳຂຶ້ນ, ສູງຂຶ້ນ, ເພື່ອລົງມາຢ່າງຖືກຕ້ອງ
Translation– One has to cross upstream, higher up, to come downstream properly
Inherent to all humans in this world, the proverb khonnung tong khamnam khun sungkhun pheu longma yangthuktong says that we sometimes have to work harder than what we expected to reach the goals that we always dream of. Always a good piece of advice, especially to the new upcoming generation.
Translation– A single rotten fish makes a basketful turn bad.
pa thi neoa peuony otdiav hedhai kata peuony bodi is another essential proverb that says even a single person’s mistake in a group can ruin and affect the entire team’s results. Similarly, in a friend circle, one person’s bias can create hatred in the group. Thus, it signifies the value of teamwork and individual responsibility.
Translation– A full purse never lacks friends
One of this generation’s most iconic and relatable sayings is kapaongoen temthi bokhoeny khad mu. It says that often people become friends with others because of their money. So, it becomes difficult to tell whether they are real or selfish, despite your money and wealth.
More Lao Sayings To Practice
|One piece of wood will not make a fire||ໄມ້ດຽວຈະບໍ່ເກີດໄຟ ທີ່ມາ||mai diav cha bo koedfai thima|
|Ten mouths speaking are not as good as seeing with one’s own eyes; ten eyes that see are not as good as what one has in one’s hand||ສິບປາກເວົ້າບໍ່ດີເທົ່າທີ່ເຫັນດ້ວຍຕາຂອງຕົນເອງ; ສິບຕາທີ່ເບິ່ງບໍ່ດີເທົ່າກັບສິ່ງທີ່ມີຢູ່ໃນມື||sib pakuaao bodi theoathi hen duanyta khongtonoeng sib ta thi boeng bodi theoakab singthi mi yunai mu|
|Happiness flies away from those who want it most||ຄວາມສຸກບິນໄປຈາກຜູ້ທີ່ຕ້ອງການຫຼາຍທີ່ສຸດ||khuaam suk bin pai chak phu thi tong kan rai thi sud|
|If you must be a servant, serve the rich; if you must be a dog, let it be a temple dog||ຖ້າເຈົ້າຕ້ອງເປັນຜູ້ຮັບໃຊ້, ຮັບໃຊ້ຄົນຮັ່ງມີ; ຖ້າເຈົ້າຕ້ອງເປັນໝາ, ໃຫ້ມັນເປັນໝາວັດ||thachao tong penphu habsai habsai khon hangmi thachao tongpen ma hai manpen mavad|
|Learning means loving the country||ການຮຽນໝາຍເຖິງຮັກຊາດ||kanhian maithoeng haksad|
|A good man doesn’t have to worry about harm||ຜູ້ຊາຍທີ່ດີບໍ່ຈໍາເປັນຕ້ອງກັງວົນກ່ຽວກັບອັນຕະລາຍ||phusai thidi bochoapentong kangvon kiauakab antalai|
|A pen is mightier than a sword||ປາກກາມີພະລັງກວ່າດາບ||pakka mi phalang kva dab|
|A person’s stripes are inside, those of a tiger are outside||ເສັ້ນດ່າງຂອງຄົນຢູ່ຂ້າງໃນ, ເສືອແມ່ນຢູ່ຂ້າງນອກ||sen dang khongkhon yukhang nai seu aemn yukhang nok|
|You know you teach. You do not know, you learn||ເຈົ້າຮູ້, ເຈົ້າສອນ. ເຈົ້າບໍ່ຮູ້, ເຈົ້າຮຽນຮູ້||chao hu chao son chao bohu chao hianhu|
|A tray full of money is not worth a mind full of knowledge.||ຖາດທີ່ເຕັມໄປດ້ວຍເງິນບໍ່ຄຸ້ມຄ່າກັບຈິດໃຈທີ່ເຕັມໄປດ້ວຍຄວາມຮູ້||thad thitempaiduany ngoen bo khum kha kab chidchai thitempaiduany khuaamhu|
So now you know some of the most unique and valuable sayings that will help you speak the language more proficiently and adapt to the local beliefs of the Laotion people. Proverbs improve your knowledge and give you a lot to talk about when you are with your new friends. So, you are sure to have a good time in Laos.
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