Lao is a tonal language where different word tones can indicate different meanings. Thus, mood particles at the end of a sentence can help to express a certain feeling/mood.⠀
Similarly, in American English, we may use ending words like, “Go ahead, dear.”, “Go ahead, fool!” to politely (or impolitely) express a mood. The Lao equivalent would be ໄປເດີ and ໄປແມ້, respectively.⠀
The usages of ending particles are so natural among native Lao speakers, that many would have a hard time explaining its concept. Much like asking a fish to explain water.⠀
Let’s take an example.
Sounds neutral, right?
In English, if I wanted to make a slight demand for someone to eat their meal, I can change it to “Just eat it, bro!”
Or, to make it very formal and polite.
“Eat it, dear/sir/sweetie”
Eat ແມ້ vs Eat ເດີ
Both words are the same (in definition), but convey a different emotional tone just by adding an emoji at the end.
Some Common Lao Particles
ແມ້ /maae/ = more of a slight commanding/demanding tone use among close friends, siblings, or your kids. It could be positive ending particle depending on your pitch and intention. However, do not use among guests or someone respectful.
Hint: /maae/ looks like a /M/ad emoji.
ເດີ /derr/ = the most common encouraging tone. It’s use as a form of endearment.
Hint: /derr/ sounds like /d/ear — “Come visit us, dear!” ມາເດີ /ma derr/
ເນາະ /naw/ = this is more of a confirmation tone. An English translation could be, “isn’t it?”, “right?” — It’s hot, isn’t it? = It’s hot, /naw/? Notice this emoji smiley is winking.
Hint: think of /n/odding, /naw/odding to someone as if they agree with you.
ແດ່ /daae/ = often use when making a polite request. “May I have sticky rice, please?” “Please give me sticky rice, /daae/”
ແນ່ /naae/ = similar to the particle /daae/ but a more of a “begging” polite request.
“Buy me some cholcolate, pretty please?” “Buy me some chocolate, /naae/”
ດອກ /dawk/ = the pacifier ending particle. This emoji “flips” thing upside down. It turns something negative, into something more encouraging and positive! “Do not worry, /dawk/”
ໂລດ /loat/ = more of a positive tone to imply something can be proceeded. An English translatation could be “go for it” — “Just go ahead and eat it” “Eat /loat/”