Reading Lao is similar to reading English in that letters
represent phonetic sounds and sentences are read from left to right.
If you can already read Thai, Lao is very easy to learn because the
original Sanskrit/Pali spellings have been simplified and words are
The Lao alphabet has 26 consonants. Each consonant has
a word associated with it to distinguish between a few sounds which
have more than one letter, such as "s" and "h"
which have two letters each. These words are used when saying the
name of the letter. The associated words are names of animals or common
objects and are the first thing Lao children study when learning to
The name of the letter is pronounced as a syllable ending with
aw (gaw, kaw, etc) followed by the associated
word. With high class consonants the aw syllable has a rising
tone but the associated word may not have a rising tone because of
tone markers included in the spelling. The relationship between consonants
and tones is explained on the Tone Chart page.