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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Friday, December 06, 2013

Lao vs Laos

Me: If Lao has no copyright legislation, is it a haven for piracy? Torrent sites should move there

A: Lao Tzu ah


A: oh u meant LaoS

Me: n00b

"Laos ((Listeni/ˈlaʊs/, /ˈlɑː.ɒs/, /ˈlɑː.oʊs/, or /ˈleɪ.ɒs/)[6][7][8] Lao Language: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ, pronounced [sǎː.tʰáː.laʔ.naʔ.lat páʔ.sáː.tʰiʔ.páʔ.tàj páʔ.sáː.són.láːw] Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao), officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic"

A: Lao isn't a place. It's Laos in English. Just like we don't call Germany "Deutschland"...

Me: The official name in English is Lao

Too bad
United Nations member States - Information Sources

B: pwnt

A: It's actually not. Like I said, it would be like calling Germany "Deutschland" or Italy "Italia" while speaking English.

Too bad...

What’s in a name? ‘Lao’ or ‘Laos’? | lao-ocean-girl

Me: The name registered with the UN and displayed on the English sites is the official English name

That's why we have:
- Lao (
- Germany (
- Italy (
- Côte D'Ivoire (
- Netherlands (and not Holland) (
- Viet Nam (and not Vietnam) (

A: It's not Lao, it's the Lao People's Democractic Republic or Lao PDR. Can you read the bloody article I linked please, it's common courtesy in a dialogue.

Me: I did and I would've left a comment if they were not closed.

The article's point is that it is pedantic to *insist* that one use the term "Lao" and to say that "Laos does not exist".

Here it is the opposite problem - in order to troll me you are pedantically insisting that "Lao does not exist". This is like pretending not to understand what "Singapura" is in an English context.

A: Nope, I am not saying Lao does not exist, I am saying that, and I quote "'Lao’ is perfectly correct in English when used as an adjective".

The article's point is that the usage of 'Lao' to refer to Laos is wrong. It is as silly as using the words 'Nihon', 'Zhong Guo', or 'Deutschland' when referring to those countries in English.

And while I, as someone with a larger than single digit IQ, understand very well what you are referring to when you use 'Lao' to refer to Laos because it is only 1 letter apart and I can infer from context, I used the examples above to illustrate that it is the same mistake.

tl;dr - Lao is an adjective, Laos is a proper noun, and Lao People's Democratic Republic works because it uses 'Lao' as an adjective and when you shorten it to 'Lao' it's just wrong, because you are writing in English

C: The official name is not Lao. The official name is Lao PDR. Semantics aside, it would just be clearer to everyone if Laos is used, even though the 's' is silent. Lao is primarily used as an adjective.

Me: I have heard Laotian people using the term "Lao" when referring to their country when speaking in English. If it's good enough for them (and for their government officials, as Lao-Ocean Girl also relates), it's good enough for me.

Feel free to denounce extant usage and tell them they are wrong.

I am not the one going around insisting extant usage is wrong (as I would be if I said "Laos" does not exist, which I am not)

D: Gabriel I'm totally with you on this one. I just went to Lao or Lao PDR or Laos or whatever you call it. Every local I spoke to there called themselves Lao, or Lao people, or "your first time in Lao?" Not a single one said "Laos". Then again their accent (and language) is very similar to Thai, so even if it was "Laos" they wouldn't pronounce the S. Germans don't say "Deutschland" when referring to Germany in English. Lao people call Lao PDR "Lao" when speaking English. I don't think I even saw any signs that said "Laos" anywhere. If the girl in the article has a problem with that, she should go home and ask people why they say it that way in English cuz she can't blame us from learning from them.

The history of Lao/Laos is complicated so it's a little hard to understand, but I had the impression that the term 'Laos' was used much more commonly up till the communists won the revolution in 1970-something, after which the name of the country became Lao PDR and people stopped using "Laos". It seems to me that using "Laos" is a bit of a legacy term, just like how many people from Myanmar still call themselves Burmese even though the country name isn't Burma anymore. It's not wrong per se, but you definitely can't hit someone on the head for calling the country 'Lao' because they're not saying 'Laos.'

To say the official name is not Lao but Lao PDR is like saying China isn't China's name, it's People's Republic of China. That's just a silly argument. If the official name is Lao PDR, and you don't want to use the whole name, just use Lao. That's just reasonable and common sense.

C: Silly argument? I'm just responding to how it was claimed earlier that the official name is "Lao", since the topic on officiality was on. What's even sillier is having confusion on how to spell a place when both names pronounce the same since the 's' has and always been silent.

D: So if someone tried to call Singapore "Singapura" and someone else tried to say we should use "Singapore" because "Singapore" is the official English name, would you jump in and say "actually no, the official name of Singapore is 'Republic of Singapore'"? I don't see what it adds to the conversation. That's the kind of thing that Martin in the Simpsons says that makes the other kids want to punch him.

And I think this thread has gotten really disproportionately argumentative over an extremely small detail. Can we just accept that both terms are commonly used and move on until we find a more authoritative answer... I'm sure we all have better things to do with our day (this is an indirect jab at myself to get off Facebook and get back to work).
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