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By Enfield, N.J.

Lao is the nationwide language of Laos, and can also be spoken commonly in Thailand and Cambodia. it's a tone language of the Tai-Kadai family members (Southwestern Tai branch). Lao is an severe instance of the separating, analytic language kind. This publication is the main entire grammatical description of Lao thus far. It describes and analyses the real constructions of the language, together with classifiers, sentence-final debris, and serial verb buildings. detailed consciousness is paid to grammatical issues from a semantic, pragmatic, and typological viewpoint.

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Related to this, Enfield, Kita and de Ruiter (2007c) investigate the use of pointing gestures during spatial descriptions in discourse by speakers of Lao. Two studies (Enfield 2003d, 2005a) have come from an investigation of the structural properties of ‘gesture diagrams’, and specifically their use for describing kinship relations and Lao kin terminology, their iconic properties, and their implications for the study of kinship and diagrammatic cognition. Enfield (2004b) presents a study of gestures made during native speaker descriptions of types of Lao fish traps, in which it is demonstrated that sequences of hand gestures show discourse-syntactic organization.

Much later, Sila’s proposals for the Lao orthography were also seen as less practical and more elitist, in opposition to fundamental principles of Phoumi’s revolutionary grammar (see below). Pierre Somchin Nginn was head of the long-standing Literary Committee, and presided over the publication of the Royal Lao Government official Grammar of Lao, published in 1972 (RLG 1972). Nginn’s view of Lao grammar and orthography was more progressive than Sila’s, whereby he partly followed a principle of simplicity and ‘phonetic’ spelling, while allowing for Indic etymology to be reflected in the spelling of borrowings, at least to the extent that existing Lao characters could facilitate this.

But pinpointing the distinctive features of this standard is complicated by the fact that the target is shifting. The pronunciation of Vientiane Lao is nowhere codified, and its form has been affected over the decades through major demographic changes, including influx of regional speakers, as wartime refugees during the 1960s and early 1970s, as incoming revolutionaries taking power immediately after 1975, and as economic migrants since the 1990s, permitted by increasing urban development and eased travel restrictions.

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