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Book Chapter

Laos - language situation


Enfield,  N. J.
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Enfield, N. J. (2006). Laos - language situation. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (vol. 6) (pp. 698-700). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-1D95-7
Laos features a high level of linguistic diversity, with more than 70 languages from four different major language families (Tai, Mon-Khmer, Hmong-Mien, Tibeto-Burman). Mon-Khmer languages were spoken in Laos earlier than other languages, with incoming migrations by Tai speakers (c. 2000 years ago) and Hmong-Mien speakers (c. 200 years ago). There is widespread language contact and multilingualism in upland minority communities, while lowland-dwelling Lao speakers are largely monolingual. Lao is the official national language. Most minority languages are endangered, with a few exceptions (notably Hmong and Kmhmu). There has been relatively little linguistic research on languages of Laos, due to problems of both infrastructure and administration.