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