Monday, May 11, 2009

what went wrong with the definition of Lao?

this is from the webster's dictionary.

Lao pronunciation: \ˈlau\
function: noun inflected form(s): plural Lao or Laos \ˈlauz\
date: 1808 1 : a member of a buddhist people living in Laos and adjacent parts of northeastern thailand 2 : the thai language of the Lao people — Lao adjective

Lao is not a "thai language of the Lao people"

Lao is the "official language of the country of Laos"

oh well.

(thanks to chaleurn for sending this to me. i have heard of Lao and thai described in academic settings as part of the tai linguistic family, but i've never heard Lao described as a "thai language of the Lao people.") comments?


stacer said...

That just sounds odd to me. I'm not a linguist, but I've always heard that Thai and Lao are simply part of the same family of languages, like Portugese and Spanish--that speakers of both languages can get a lot out of each other's language, though they might not understand everything. It sounds odd for it to be described as derivative of Thai, and not quite accurate. No one would say that Portugese is a Spanish language of the people of Brazil and Portugal.

Durf said...

I think the "thai" there is probably a misspelling (alternate spelling?) of the "Tai" that you note as the linguistic family name. It's a correct statement to say that Lao is a Tai language spoken by people in Laos, just like French is a Romance language spoken by people in France, for instance.

jrm said...

thanks durf. sounds right to me.