RE: Thai v. Lao (was: Lao Letter Fo Sung and Lao Letter Fo Tam)

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Fri Oct 21 2005 - 09:42:55 CST

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    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of Richard Wordingham

    > > No, that is not a valid concept. Lao and Thai are clearly distinct
    > > scripts
    > > just as Greek and Latin and Cyrillic are distinct scripts.
    > Can you point me to the killer fact? Given the variety of Thai styles
    > (see
    > e.g. Doug Cooper's 'How do Thais Tell Letters Apart'
    > , or via
    > if
    > you can't read raw PostScript - or just look at the shop signs if you're
    > in
    > Thailand), it's not obvious that it is a different script.

    It certainly is obvious if your familiar with the scripts. All of the samples in Doug Cooper's great paper (thanks for the reference, btw) would be thoroughly familiar and comprehensible to any Thai. For all the variation in Thai letters they can handle, Thais would not find all of the Lao letters to be familiar.

    A few very good examples of the distinctiveness of Lao script are 0E82 and 0EBC:

    - The shape of 0E82 (high class kho) is definitely outside the range of glyph variations for 0E02 (the Thai counterpart). It might be recognized as /kh/ by a reader of Khmer, Lanna, New Tai Lue, or even Myanmar, but I suspect a Thai wouldn't recognize it as such.

    - 0EBC is historically derived from the practice of writing subjoined consonants. This sign would be familiar to a reader of Lanna, which has subjoining and has this sign. But there is no counterpart at all for 0EBC in Thai, which does not have any form of consonant conjoining.

    Peter Constable

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