by: Khanthaly Bounma
A typical service at Lao Mennonite Fellowship uses both the English and Lao languages. Since we now have a Thai family attending our fellowship, we mix a little Thai into the Scripture reading. The Lao and Thai languages are similar. So you could say that every service uses three languages. We rotate the sermon among three regular preachers plus one other speaker who speaks once a quarter. We worship at Slate Hill Mennonite Church in Camp Hill, Pa.
The Laotian LanguageLaos is located on the Indo-Chinese peninsula of Southeast Asia. About half the population speaks Laotian or Lao, the official language of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Half the population speaks Lao and the other half speaks a variety of 90 local languages. More people speak Lao in northeast Thailand than speak it in Laos. Laotian and Thai, the official language of Thailand, are both in the Tai family of languages, and they are similar enough for mutual understanding.
Lao is a tonal language where different tones distinguish between words that otherwise sound the same but have a different meaning (like eight and ate). It is also an analytic language, meaning it organizes words and grammar with a strict word order, like English, instead of using word prefixes and suffixes to indicate grammar, like Hebrew and Greek. About 33 million people speak Lao around the world.