How to say I or me in Lao

How to say I or me in Lao

In English, if you want to refer to yourself, you can use “me, myself, and I.”

Lao, however, has different ways of saying “I/me.” That is because Lao is a social and family hierarchy class language — the way you address yourself depends on your relationship with the person or group.

Object pronoun like “me” and subject pronoun like “I” have different formality levels.

lAO Pronouns

ຂ້ອຍ /khawi/ = I/me

The word ຂ້ອຍ /khawi/ is commonly use to refer to yourself. It is a general personal pronoun that you can use among guests or friends. However, in terms of politeness, it is not really a pronoun young Lao people use with their older relatives.

ຂ້ອຍ

I/me

ເຮົາ /hao/ = I/me

ເຮົາ /hao/ sounds like the word ພວກເຮົາ /puak hao/ meaning “we” but ເຮົາ by itself can also be used as a pronoun for “I/me” among friends around your age or as a polite way of saying “I” among your family. ⠀

ເຮົາ

I/me

ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ /kaapaajao/ = I/me

ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ /kaapaajao/ is use when addressing a formal audience — in official document, interview, or formal discussion.

Pay attention to the clip at 0:03 when he uses ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ /kaapaajao/

ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ

I/me

Your name = Personal pronoun

(Your name) . When talking among siblings or family members, sometimes you may say your name.

Let’s say your name is Noy.⠀
Noy: Noy will help you ok!⠀
Nok: No problem, Noy.

ຂະນ້ອຍ /ka-noy/ = I/me

ຂະນ້ອຍ /ka-noy/ is mainly use among monks in Laos today, but was often used more among younger people towards elders during the Royal era.

[1] The etymology of ຂ້າ/ຂ້ານ້ອຍ itself is beyond the scope of this post.  In brief, the old spelling ຂ້ານ້ອຍ literally means ຂ້າ (servant) + ນ້ອຍ (small/low) — “I (lowly servant) hereby respect your way.”⠀

ຂະນ້ອຍ

I/me

ກູ /guu/ = I/me

ກູ /guu/ is an intimidating form of I/me. You should not use this word towards anyone, if you are not used to it. ⠀

ກູ

I/me

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