So you’re learning Lao right now and want to sound like a native. In a foreign country, a few basic words and phrases go a long way. Lao is a scary-looking language to many travelers. But don’t worry, Ling has got you covered! Here’s an amazing guide to the most essential list of basic words and phrases in Lao that you will ever need.
Let’s start learning Lao basic words and phrases from the top:
- What is your name?
(Jâo seu nyãng?) – ເຈົ້າຊື່ຫຍັງ
- My name is…
(Khawy Seu Michael…) – ຂ້ອຍຊື່ Michael...
The Basic Beginner’s List About Basic Words And Phrases In Lao
|Thank you||Khawp Jai||ຂອບໃຈ|
|Excuse me, I’m sorry||Khǎw Thôht||ຂໍໂທດ|
|Good morning||Sa bai di ton sao||ສະບາຍດີຕອນເຊົ້າ|
A Sidenote On The Basic Beginner’s List For Lao Words And Phrases
Things ‘lost in translation’.
Learning a language wouldn’t be as fun if you didn’t have to contend with the intricacies of direct translation. So in the above example for ‘yes’, we used (Maen Leeo), which is a good ‘overall’ translation but more closely resembles ‘it is, already.’
Also, as we discussed in an earlier article, language is often determined by the seniority of the person you are talking to.
- (Doi) ໂດຍ is something you would use instead of Maen Leeo if you were talking to someone older than you.
- (Doi kanoy) ໂດຍຂະນ້ອຍ is even more respectful and should be used when talking to a monk
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the more formal (err) ອື which is close to “yep” in English.
What Is Doi Kanoy And Tak Bat?
One of the most curious things about traveling to Laos is the Tak bat or the alms ceremony. Do not be surprised to see hundreds of orange-robed, umbrella-wielding monks shuffling past devotees at 5.30 am. Unfortunately, the ceremony has been spoiled in recent years by over-eager tourists who disrupt the monks’ meditation.
So this might be a time to practice your listening and not your speaking. If you want some more tips on the ‘nop’ and other aspects of Lao culture, why not check out our last blog on how to greet people in Lao?
Discover More Basic Lao Phrases
|Do you speak English?||Jâo Wâo Pháa-Sǎa Ang-git Dai Baw?||ເຈົ້າເວົ້າພາສາອັງກິດໄດ້ບໍ່|
|I can’t speak English||Khawy Wâo Pháa-Sǎa Ang-Kit baw Dai||ຂ້ອຍເວົ້າພາສາອັງກິດບໍ່ໄດ້|
|Please speak slowly||Kalunaa, Wâo Sah-Saah||ກະລຸນາເວົ້າຊ້າໆ|
|I like English||Khawy mak phasaangkid||ຂ້ອຍມັກພາສາອັງກິດ|
|I’m lost||Khoi lohng taang||ຂ້ອຍຫຼົງທາງ|
|Lower the price||lakha toa||ລາຄາຕ່ໍາ|
- Where is the bathroom?
(Hong Nam Yu Sai?) – ຫ້ອງ້ຳຢູ່ໃສ
This is one of those phrases that deserves its own section because sometimes you just don’t know when you’ll need to do this. For example, if you say, “Bathroom hong nam yu?”, you will be understood, but the correct form is “hong nam yu sai?”
Lao Emergency Words And Phrases
Sudden situations in a foreign country may make you feel that you’re helpless. Although you can try talking to them in English, it’s much better to at least have some words ready along the way. Having memorized emergency words and phrases in Lao is more efficient.
|Leave me alone||Ponyhai khonyyu khondiav||ປ່ອຍໃຫ້ຂ້ອຍຢູ່ຄົນດຽວ|
|Can you help me?||Suay khoi dai bor||ເຈົ້າຊ່ວຍຂ້ອຍໄດ້ບໍ່?|
|I’m lost||Khoi lohng taang||ຂ້ອຍຫຼົງທາງ|
|I need a doctor||Khony tongkan tha no||ຂ້ອຍຕ້ອງການທ່ານໍ|
|I don’t understand||Khoy baw khao jai||ຂ້ອຍບໍ່ເຂົ້າໃຈ|
|Can I borrow your phone||Khoy yuam tolasab khong chao dai baw||ຂ້ອຍຢືມໂທລະສັບຂອງເຈົ້າໄດ້ບໍ?|
Asking Directions In Lao
Just like in Thailand, you can ride the iconic Tuk Tuk in Laos. Along the way, you’ll find beautiful and significant places that will forever make Laos a country you can’t forget. But, before you get lost, it’s time to learn some direction phrases and words in Lao. Save some time trying to use the Google Translate app by memorizing some of them.
With the Ling app, you’ll also hear what these words will sound like. Try to practice the pronunciation with your Lao friend too. Laotians appreciate it when foreigners make an effort to speak their language.
|How do I get to?||Khoi bpai _____ baep dai?||ຂ້ອຍຈະໄປໄດ້ແນວໃດ?|
|The airport||Deun bin||ສະ ໜາມ ບິນ|
|Sites to see?||Beung sa tan tee||ສະຖານທີ່ເພື່ອເຂົ້າໄປເບິ່ງ|
|Turn left||Liao saai||ລ້ຽວຊ້າຍ|
|Turn right||Liao kwaa||ລ້ຽວຂວາ|
Getting Lost In Laos? Use The Local Transport Apps
It is a lot more difficult to get lost in Laos now than it was 10 years ago. Everybody in the city has a mobile phone. Although other ridesharing apps like Uber and Grab haven’t made the transition to Laos, there is an app called Loca that is attempting to do what ridesharing technology did to other Southeast Asian countries.
Of course, this writer would advise you to get lost in the city and see if you can find your way back to your hotel with some of the phrases you’ve learned today.
Learn More Lao Words And Phrases With Ling
Did our complete list of basic words and phrases in Lao whet your appetite for new vocabulary? Ling has a little bit of everything for learners, from bargain hunters wanting to lower the price in a Vientiane market (lakha toa), to those of you caught short and need to find a bathroom (hàwng nâm yuu).