click on each topic to navigate

Using a Lao Dictionary


WB01432_.gif (3228 bytes)

   Using a Lao dictionary is somewhat different from using an English dictionary.  The main difference is in the systems of alphabetization.  Here is a note on how Lao words are alphabetized.

    Words are found under their initial consonant symbols.  For example, all words which begin with kOO ka#y, are listed under  .  Once in the  section, proceed to look at the final consonant of the first syllable, then at the vowel of that syllable.  ກະ will precede ກົກ, since the former has no final consonant.  ກົກ will precede ກັບ, because , the final consonant of ກົກ, precedes  in the alphabet.  ກັບ precedes ກົບ because the final consonants of these two syllables being the same, we look at the vowels, and xx precedes xx in the alphabetical listing of vowels.

    These single syllable words are therefore alphabetized as follows:

ກະ ກົກ ກັບ ກົບ
   For polysyllabic words, go to the second syllable only after the word has been alphabetized according to its first syllable.  ກະຕ່າ will come after  ກະ but before ກົກ in our list.  ກະບຸງ will come after ກະຕ່າ.  In dealing with the second syllable, repeat the process used in dealing with the first, and so on, syllable by syllable, until the word has been properly alphabetized.

    So far we have dealt only with words whose first letter is a consonant and whose second letter is a vowel.   Words which begin with a consonant cluster, ກວ for example, are alphabetized according to the same process, but only after all the other words which begin with have been dealt with.

    These words are in alphabetical order:

ກະ ກະຕ່າ ກະບຸງ ກົກ ກັບ ກົບ ກວາ ກວັກ ກວັ່ງ ແກວ່ນ
   To sum up:  The words under each consonant heading fall into successive groups according to the final consonant of the first syllable.  Within each group with the same first syllable final, the words are alphabetized according to the vowel of the syllable.

    There are five steps in finding a word in the Lao dictionary:

    1)  Find the section for the initial consonant of the word you are looking for.

    2)  Within this section, find the group of words whose first syllable has the same final consonant as that of the word in question.

    3)  Within this section, look for the vowel of the first syllable.

    4)  a)  If the word has only one syllable, look for the tone mark.  The order is, no mark, mày êek, mày thóo.

         b)  If the word has more than one syllable, it will come after all single syllable words of the same syllable type.  In other words, a single syllable word with a mày thóo will precede a polysyllabic word whose first syllable differs from that single syllable word only in that it carries a mày êek.

    5)  If there are several polysyllabic words with the same first syllable, repeat the process on the second syllable.

    These words are in alphabetical order:

ກວ້ງ (kuàN, is a vowel symbol here)
ແກບ (the initial is , the final )
ແກວ (kEEw, not kwEE)
ກວັ່ງ kwa#N, ກວ is a consonant cluster
ແກວ່ນ kwE#En


SEAsite Laos | Overview | History | Art & Culture | Language | Literature

Gallery | Folklore | Other Topics | Links | SEAsite

2002 SEAsite Laos.  Using a Lao Dictionary