How to say yes in Lao

How to say yes in Lao

Lao does not have a direct “yes.” Once you start observing how people respond to a ‘yes’ question, you’ll notice there are different formal levels for ‘yes’ in Lao.⁣

1) ໂດຍຂະນ້ອຍ /doi kanoy/ = is a high-level and respectful way to say ‘yes’ for monks. The /kanow/ ຂະນ້ອຍ at the end adds a respectful expression. “Respectfully yes, your high honor.”⁣⠀
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2) ໂດຍ /doi/ = is a respectful way to say “yes” especially among elders. It may originated as a short form of ໂດຍຂະນ້ອຍ. Doi is also a versatile term. Usually, you would not say this to someone very younger than you though. ⁣⠀
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3) ເຈົ້າ /jao/ = which has its origin in Royal Lao as a salutation for ‘lord’/’king’, is a polite agreement, commonly to mean ‘yes’ or ‘indeed.’ It is very similar to ໂດຍ /doi/ and the same politeness level. You can also use it in the form of “you’re welcome” or “ok, no problem”⁣⠀
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4) ແມ່ນ /maaen/ = Many teaching you Lao would say this is a generic way of saying “yes.” It is to a certain extend. The
ແມ່ນ “maaen” really translate closely to “it is.”

For example, if I were to ask, “do you want eat?” responding with  ແມ່ນ /maaen/would be the equivalent of saying “it is” in English, which doesn’t sound grammatically correct.⁣ Now, if I were to ask, “Is this your meal?” responding with  ແມ່ນ /maaen/⁣ is correct.

5) ແມ່ນແລ້ວ /maaen laaeo/ = Just like maaen, it does not directly mean “yes” but “correct, it is”; /laaeo’ means ‘already’ to indicate a past tense. The difference between ແມ່ນ /maaen/ and ແມ່ນແລ້ວ /maaen laaeo/ is you are confirming something that happened already.⁣⠀
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It can also be combined with ເຈົ້າ /jao/, as in ເຈົ້າ ແມ່ນແລ້ວ /jao maaen laaeo/⠀
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6) Repeating the verb. In English, this would be “Do you like it?” Like it! This is a common way to respond to a question in Lao. ⁣⠀
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7) ອື/ເອີ /err/ = the expression is similar to “alright”, “uh huh”, ‘yup, yup’ and sounds very informal. You’d say this among your friends or close family as it does not sound polite to someone you respect or older than you. ⁣⠀

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