Lao

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Lao

 

(Laotians), a people constituting the basic population of Laos; the Lao pong khao group numbered about 1.9 million persons (1970, estimate). Approximately another 8 million Lao, belonging to the Lao pong dam and Lao klang groups, live in Thailand. There are also Lao ethnic groups in China, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Burma. They speak Lao and profess the southern branch of Buddhism with strong vestiges of ancient tribal beliefs. The ancestors of the Lao migrated into Indochina from the southern regions of eastern Asia at the beginning of the Common Era, reaching their present homeland in the first centuries A.D. A Laotian feudal state, Lan Xang, arose in the 14th century. The chief occupations of the Lao are rice growing, livestock raising (among the Lao klang), and fruit growing; spinning and silkweaving are also well developed.

REFERENCES

Narody Iugo-Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow, 1966.

Lao

 

(Laotian), the language of the Lao and the official language of Laos. It is spoken in Laos, northeastern Thailand, southeastern China, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and Burma, by approximately 10 million people (1970, estimate). Lao is related to the Tai group of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Lao is an isolating language: relations between words are expressed analytically and word order is strict. Dialects and subdialects are classified into the northern, central, and southern groups. The Vientiane dialect serves as the norm for the Lao literary language. The basic vocabulary is composed of words common to the languages of the Tai group: it has many borrowings from Pali and Sanskrit. The earliest written records found in Laos date from the 13th century.

REFERENCES

Morev, L. N., A. A. Moskalev, and Iu. Ia. Plam. Laosskii iazyk. Moscow, 1972.
Hospitalier, J. J. Grammaire laotienne. Paris, 1937.
Sasorith, K. D. Alphabet et écriture lao. Vientiane, 1943.
Finot, L. “Les Ecritures lao.” France-Asie, 1956, vol. 10, nos. 118–20.