How was this dictionary born?
It’s a young Swiss-German guy, Amando, met in a 9-hour bus between Luang Prabang and Luang Nam Tha on my fourth day in Lao, who taught me most of the words presented here. I added to these some other words I happened to need during the rest of my 5-week trip there in January/February 2012. It’s in June 2012 that I finally found the time to put all this under an electronic format and as an article on my blog.
READ THIS TO UNDERSTAND THE WRITTEN PRONOUNCIATION
As I am not a native English-speaker, I could not have written myself the English way of pronouncing Lao words as accurately as possible as a native speaker. This English-Lao dictionary has been reviewed with Peta from Melbourne, Australia met on my trip. Big thanks to Peta for her help!
1. The sound “I” pronounced like in “I am” is often found in Lao words.
It is written here «ai» (example: lai lai).
2. Bow is pronounced like in “bow tie” or “beau”. Bow at the end of a sentence indicates a question while it means a negation when found at the beginning or middle of a sentence.
3. When a vowel is insisted upon in a word, I wrote it several times to insist on it. For example, you don’t say “Sab-ba-dee”, you say “Sab-ba-deeeeeee » and make the eeee last.
4. The words indicated in brackets in the left column indicate the literal meaning in Lao.
Note about the numbers (listed at the end)
The figures 3 to 9 are used with “sip” to form 30 to 90.
Example : 3 = Sam 30 = Sam Sip 7=Djet 70= Djet Sip etc…
20 is an exception and is « sao sip » instead of « song sip ».
Numbers 22 to 29 as well as 32 to 39 etc are built by adding the figure after.
Example : 22 = Sao Sip Song 37= Sam Sip Djet 64 = Hok Sip Siiii
Numbers 11, 21, 31, etc are exceptions. Lao say « et » (like in the word “pet”) instead of «noung».
Example : 11= Sip et 21 = Sao et 31= Sam et etc….
When can you use this dictionary?
You are walking around and meet children. Ask them “What is your name? How old are you?”. If they don’t answer you, ask them “Are you afraid of me? Are you shy?”.
You are at the market. Try the Asian fruits, they are really different and often really good. Ask “How much?” in the Lao language. Learn the numbers to understand the answer. If something seems too expensive to you, scratch your head and say “Peng Laï! Peng Laï!” Coming from a tourist, it often surprises them and makes them laugh. Up to you now to negotiate in the Lao language the price that seems fair to you.
The other words can be useful to comment on the weather. To ask if someone is tired. To ask someone if they have children and how many. Other words when you take the bus. To ask how long left it is, or where the toilets are, or if you call an hotel and would like to ask if they have a room or if the room has hot water. When you go for food, or want to ask for a drink, or cheer with the Lao people, or else when you play pétanque with them, which is one of the beautiful way of experiencing Lao.
Don’t hesitate to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to give me some feedback about it or how to improve it. In particular, if during your trip, there is a word that you need many times and wasn’t in that dictionary, please send it to me so I can add it there! Thank you.
You can download the dictionary here…
English – Lao dictionary 150 useful words
…or just read it below.
|English||Lao (English prononciation)|
|Hello||Sab bai dee|
|Thank you||Kop chai|
|very much, a lot||Lai lai|
|Thank you very much||Kop chai lai lai|
|No problem!||Bow pe nyong|
|Of course!||Me lay oh|
|See you later!||Pop guy mai|
|Not good, problem||Bow-dai|
|Yes||Doi (urh urh)|
|The weather is cold! (Cold!)||Now lai|
|The weather is warm! (Warm!)||Hown Lai|
|Good night!||Noon lap fan di dooh|
|He, him / She, her||Law|
|you (plurial)||Pooh-wak cow|
|I don’t understand.||Coi boh koh jai|
|I speak lao little.||Coi vow lau dai noi noon|
|Can you speak slowly?||Jaw vow sas-sa dai boh|
|How are you?||Sab-ba-deeee bow?|
|I am fine||Sab-ba-deeee|
|and you?||Jaw dai?|
|Where are you from? (people/coming/where)||Con pa-tei day?|
|What is your name?||Jaw su nyong?|
|My name is xxxx||Koi su xxxx|
|How old are you? (You how many years?)||Jaw chack peeee?|
|xxx years old.||Xxx peeee.|
|Are you afraid of me?||Jaw ya-an koi bow?|
|Are you shy?||Jaw I bow? (like I in “I am”)|
|You are clever!||Jaw sa-laaaat!|
|You are fun!||Jaw moo-un|
|You are a beautiful boy!||Jaw poo-bau nyam lai!|
|Do you live here? (you live place here question?)||Jaw a-sai you bonne bow?|
|Are you tired?||Jaw mou-urh-eh lai bow?|
|Are you sad ?||Jaw sock sau bow?|
|not have||Bow me-ee|
|You have children ?||Jaw me-ee lou-ooh?|
|You have children how many?||Jaw me-ee lou-ooh chack toe?|
|What is this ?||Nee meh nyong?|
|What is that ?||Nan mah-an nyong?|
|Do you have room?||Me-ee ung-none bow?|
|hot water||nam hown|
|Do you have hot water?||Me-ee nam hown?|
|I go to xxxx.||Koi pie xxxx.|
|I want to go with you.||Koi yak pie nam jaw.|
|Where is the bus?||Lot meh you say?|
|Where are the toilets?||Hongk nam you say?|
|overthere||A-nee (often repeated twice in a row)|
|I want to go to xxx||Koi yak pie xxx|
|How long to go to xxxx?||Pie xxxx kai tau die?|
|How many hours?||Chack sue-ah mongk?|
|1 more hour (more 1 hour)||Ick noong soh-mongk|
|3 more hours (more 3 hours)||Ick sam soh-mongk|
|I want to rent bicycle||Koi yak sau lot tip.|
|to drink||kin mott|
|Do you have water?||Me-ee nam bow?|
|sugar cane drink||nam oi|
|Do you have ice?||Me-ee nam kon bow?|
|Cheers! (just before to drink)||Cap-ey!|
|One more||Ick noongk|
|to eat||kin cow|
|I like xxxx!||Koi mack xxxx!|
|Very good!||Sep lai!|
|sticky rice||cow nee-ow|
|fried rice||cow pat|
|I don’t want spicy.||Koi yak bow mak pet.|
|Don’t put chili.||Bow sigh mak pet|
|Noodle soup||Cow soi|
|Other noodle soup||fuu|
|Numbers / Shopping|
|1 2 3 4 5||Noongk Song Sam Seeee Haaaa|
|6 7 8 9 10||Hock Jet Pet Cow Sip|
|11||Sip – et|
|12 13 14 etc…||Sip song Sig sam Sip seeee etc…|
|Where is the market? (Market where?)||Talat you-sey?|
|How much?||Tao dai?|
|Too much||Peng lai! (scratch your head)(often repeated twice in a row)|
|I don’t have money||Bow me-ee goon|
|I don’t need||Bow our|
|Other words sometimes useful|
|Forest in Lao very beautiful!||Pam-ai mway Lau nyam-lai!|
|How do you say in lao?||Passah lau vau nyee-ow dai?|
|I am sick||Koi boh sabai|
|Happy New Year!||Sab-ba-deeee Pee mai!|
|female (animal)||Do-oh mai|
|to loose||See ah|
|difficult||Noo nee yaaaa|
|I want to send photo to you||Koi yak songk oop thai jaw|
|Your address?||Jaw tee yoh?|