A Grammar of Lao by Enfield, N.J.

By Enfield, N.J.

Lao is the nationwide language of Laos, and can also be spoken commonly in Thailand and Cambodia. it's a tone language of the Tai-Kadai relatives (Southwestern Tai branch). Lao is an severe instance of the setting apart, analytic language variety. This booklet is the main entire grammatical description of Lao to this point. It describes and analyses the real buildings of the language, together with classifiers, sentence-final debris, and serial verb buildings. exact awareness is paid to grammatical issues from a semantic, pragmatic, and typological point of view.

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Modern Thai orthography exactly replicates the range of Pali and Sanskrit characters, while Lao does not. What many do not realize is that this full complement of Indic characters in Thai orthography is recent, having been introduced only this century. Lao orthography contains 27 consonants, while some 43 (as found in Thai) are required to transcribe Pali. Thus, Pali and San2 Sanskrit and Pali are separate Indo-Aryan languages, both no longer natively spoken. Sanskrit has its own script (the Devanagari script used in modern Hindi), and is associated mostly with Hindu writings.

The early 1940s saw developments in language standardization associated with the Lao Nhay movement, in which the ‘simple etymological spelling’ associated with P. S. Nginn took hold (see Ivarsson (1999) for detailed discussion). Again the Buddhist Academic 4 For example, in ICR (1995), an important volume on language policy in Laos, almost no-one among over 25 contributors identifies regional pronunciation as an issue. Bounyok (1995:98) is one exception. Lao as a national language 23 ´ Council was involved in this process, along with the Ecole Franc¸aise d’Extr´eme-Orient.

On the other hand, the variety of Lao spoken in Luang Prabang includes a distinctive high falling-rising tone in ‘live’ syllables with ‘high’ consonant initials (such as hiin3 ‘stone’, maa3 ‘dog’, muu3 ‘pig’). This pronunciation is considered typical of the ‘softness’ or ‘lightness’ of that variety. There are also some lexical stereotypes which are diagnostic of regional varieties, such as Phou-Thai kiloe ‘where’ (cf. Vientiane saj3), or Lu- 20 Language background ang Prabang eew ‘play, pass time’ (cf.

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