CIT offers Lao interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.

Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Lao language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Lao language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Lao language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Lao language, as well as of the culture and history of the Lao people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

The Lao Language

The Lao language, also known as Laotian is part of the Tai-Kadai languages. About 3 million people in Laos and Thailand speak the language. It is also spoken in Cambodia, Australia, Canada, France and the US. Collectively, about 3.2 million people speak Lao. The history of Tai-Kadai language speaking people dates back 2,000 years to China and northern Vietnam. It is estimated that people moved to the Mekong valley around the 1100s.

Lao is the official language of Laos and is spoken by a little over half the population. It is the lingua franca of the country, although over 80 languages from the Mon-Khmer, Hmong-Mien and Sino-Tibetan language and Ta-Kadai families are spoken in Lao. Because of previous French colonialism, people in Laos speak French as well. Laos does remarkably well with French, far better than any other Asian country. About a third of students in Laos are taught in French, although English is becoming more popular.

Although there are several dialects of Lao, linguists do not agree on the number of dialects. Some dialects may include Vientiane, Luang Phrabang, Swanakhet, Pakse, Lao-Kao and Lao-Khrang. Standard Laotian is based on Vientiane. It is spoken in the capital and is understood by most of the country. The written Laotian language is also based on the Vientiane dialect.

There are 10 vowel phonemes, 23 consonants and three diphthongs in Laotian. Lao is a tonal language, meaning that the tone on a syllable is derived by the combination of vowels, consonants and whether a syllable is open or closed. The grammar of Lao is very closely related to Thai grammar. Nouns are not distinguished through number, gender or case. In Laotian, there are classifiers by numbers that come before the noun. For example, “elephant three-body” would mean “three elephants.” There are several pronouns in Lao, such as first, second (adult and children) and third person pronouns. Depending on who is speaking to whom. For example, if children are speaking to adults or if one is speaking to a person of authority, their pronouns will be different. Additionally, when talking about royalty, different pronouns will be used.

In Laotian, there are three classes of particles that are present at the end of sentences. They are politeness particles, which express a difference in status to the person they are spoken to. The mood particles express attitude and different question particles are used when someone asks a “yes/no” question. Lao follows a Subject-Verb-Object word order. Vocabulary in Lao has many loanwords from Saksrit and Pali, especially with religious words. There is a big influence of French on Laotian along with Thai and English. Additionally, writing in Lao can go back to the 1500s. It originally was Old Khmer but has now evolved to Brahmi script.