The Xplorer-52 pocket translator helps English-speaking people communicate with Laotian-speaking people. For each of its languages, it contains 20,000 words and 2,000 phrases.
Like most Asian languages, Laotian is a tonal language. Not surprisingly, it's the official language of Laos (the "s" is silent, but adds a tweak to the ao dipthong).
People in the northeastern part of Thailand (an area called Isan) also speak Laotian. Thai and Laotian are similar. Both descend from the Tai languages spoken in northern Vietnam and southern China. The Laotian language has many dialects, but they are close enough in nearly all cases not to cause undue difficulty in communication.
Why Laos looms large in public memory
Baby boomers in the USA are very aware of Laos, as it was constantly in the news in 1970 as news reports surfaced that US President Richard M. Nixon had secretly and illegally ordered B-52s to drop bombs on Laos and Cambodia. Most shocking perhaps was the fact he'd been engaged in those crimes for over a year (18 March 1969 to 26 May 1970).
Of course, the Vietnam War itself was illegal and of no vital interest to the United States. So a public that was already weary of this senseless, pointless, costly, ill-conceived, poorly-executed war found yet another reason to feel betrayed and deceived. And that's why Laos looms large in the memory of Baby Boomers. To later generations, the country is mostly an unknown.
If you're an American traveling to Laos, you might encounter some people who speak English as a second language. Other languages you are more likely to encounter are French, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai. Some tips on communicating with Laotian speakers (can also help with English speakers in the USA!):
Clearly annunciate your ending consonants. Midwesterners in the USA tend not to do this.
Use short words. They are easier to understand.
Speak a bit more slowly than usual. Your Laotian counterpart can probably understand your rapid speech, but the opposite may not be true. By speaking more slowly and deliberately, you help slow the other person down so you can understand.
If you don't quite understand, ask the other person to repeat. But don't shout. The problem isn't deafness, but a difference in articulation.
Use the correct date format. In the USA, many people use a date format that is unclear to the rest of the world. Rather than say "3-9-2014," say "09 MAR 2014" or "03 SEP 2014" depending on which date you actually mean.
Xplorer 52 Quick Look
The 52-Language Xplorer translates words in all directions for: AArabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cambodian, Cantonese, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laos, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Mongolian, Nepali, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Shanghai Hua, Singhalese, Slovakian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese. It has foreign language characters; phonetics, voice output, over 1 million words and over 100,000 phrases.
The typical way it's used:
You look up a word or a phrase.
You use the phonetic results to pronounce the word or phrase to the other person
Alternatively, the other person can use the device to answer you. Remember, it translates in any direction. The controls are in English, so you may need to show the other person how to use it. This is pretty easy to do.
Translates Over 1 Million Words
100,000 Useful and Popular Phrases
New Oxford American Dictionary
8 Currency Conversions
8 Metric Conversions
Local Time 12/24 Hour Format
Voice / Memo Recorder
World Time in 360 Cities
8 Travel Games:
Soduko, Kakuro, Decoder, Mines, Number Slide,
Totem Pole, 24, Number Puzzle.