A member of the Southwestern branch of the Tai family of languages, spoken by more than10 million people chiefly in Laos, where it is the official language, as well as in the neighbouring parts of Thailand and Cambodia, with some further speakers in Canada and the USA; the closest linguistic affiliation is with Thai.

Lao is spoken in three main dialects (North, Central and South) and they are mutually intelligible. The main dialectal differences lie in the tonal structure, some dialects having 5 tones, while others have 7. Modern Standard Lao is based on the Central dialect of the Vientiane region, characterized by 6 distinct tones.

The language is spelt in the Lao script, which is a syllabic alphabet. Originally derived from the Old Khmer script, it bears a close resemblance with the Thai script, from which it was developed in the 14th century. There is no official Roman transliteration convention for Lao. In Laos it normally follows the French orthographic conventions and in Thailand the Royal Thai General Transcription is used.

CLASSIFICATION = Tai family, SCRIPT = Lao(syllabic alphabet
Lao Basic Course (FSI) LAO CBEG 2(PACK)
Lao basics : An introduction to the Lao language LAO CBEG 1(PACK)
Lao for beginners LAO CBEG 3(PACK)
Lao-English English-Lao dictionary LAO DICO 1
Writing skills
How to write Lao(based on Vientiane colloquial LAO WSKILLS 1