A Grammar of Lao by Enfield, N.J.

By Enfield, N.J.

Lao is the nationwide language of Laos, and is additionally spoken commonly in Thailand and Cambodia. it's a tone language of the Tai-Kadai relations (Southwestern Tai branch). Lao is an severe instance of the setting apart, analytic language variety. This e-book is the main complete grammatical description of Lao up to now. It describes and analyses the $64000 buildings of the language, together with classifiers, sentence-final debris, and serial verb buildings. particular cognizance is paid to grammatical issues from a semantic, pragmatic, and typological standpoint.

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There was nothing of this kind in the Lao PDR era until the establishment in 1988 of the Institute of Ethnography (within the Committee for Social Sciences) and a later offspring, the Institute for Cultural Research (under the Ministry of Information and Culture). The Institute for Cultural Research established an academic journal in 1996, the Lanxang Heritage Journal. During the few years of its existence, the journal provided the only regular outlet for academic publication of linguistic research by Lao scholars.

The original directive (Royal Ordinance Number 10, January 27, 1949, for which consult Khamphao 1995, RLG 1972), was interpreted in different ways (or to different degrees of strictness) by different political factions of the then coalition government. Article 2, the relevant section of this brief document, reads: The orthography of Lao words, and of words borrowed into Lao from foreign languages, follows pronunciation used in Laos. The traditionalists wanted aspects of original Pali or Sanskrit spelling retained in loanwords from those languages, creating apparently arbitrary complexity for those unfamiliar with Indic etymology.

There is a desperate need for primary field research, given that we know very little about even the number and identity of languages, let alone their structure. In Enfield (2006a), I discuss Lao as a national language 17 theoretical issues concerning language endangerment and research on it in Laos (see also Bradley 2003). There are many dozens of languages spoken in Laos, most of which are spoken by fewer than 5000 people. Some are moribund, with only a few dozen speakers remaining. In this context, to claim that the national language Lao is ‘under pressure’ (Thongphet 2004) is a completely different notion to endangerment.

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