Laos - Pronounce the 'S'? YES!
But the "S" is pronounced in English. Lao is pronounced as such in the Lao language, but it doesn't make any sense to pronounce it as such in English.
First, "Lao" in English refers to the language spoken in Laos, or the people living in Laos (like saying the Canadian people/the American people/the French/the Lao). So saying "I've been to Lao" is like saying "I am going to German" or "I am going to English," or a French dude saying "Je viens de francais."
Second, even if it's true the Lao people say Lao for identifying the name of the country in their own language, would English speakers analogously say "I am going to Deutschland?" When one speaks English, one says the English name for a country, regardless of how it is spoken in the country's native tongue.
Yes, the proper English name of Laos is the Lao PDR, but it doesn't follow that one can just shorten it to "Lao." It is "Lao PEOPLE'S Democratic Republic" -- as in, this Republic belongs to the Lao People. Laos (said with the "S") is still the proper shorthand.
And to top it all off, I was told explicitly by many Lao that the country is pronounced with the "S" in English. They said "Lao" refers to the people, not the country.
How did this happen? Why did it become so fashionable to just say Lao?
Someone else agrees with me.
I am one of the few people that I've met on my travels who does though, everyone else seems to add the 's'
But then I've noticed on UK TV that they've started to say '7 June' or June 7' rather than manage the extra second it takes to add in the 'th'.
The world is getting stupider by the day, TV doesn't help, neither do magazines. Soon enough people will only use enough words to get by.
On The Apprentice in the UK at the minute there is a guy who had five spelling mistakes on his CV for the show - and this is meant to be the smartest Britain has on offer - a scary state of affairs.
Back to Laos, in English I don't think you say the 's' in North American English you do - there are more North Americans than British so that usage of the language wins out.
In any case, I met lots of North Americans who said "Lao."
It might be time to just, accept it. I don't think there is any hidden dark smug conspiracy.
When the son of the diposed King of Nigeria emails you DIRECTLY asking for help, you help.
my friend from laos calls himself laotian. he refers to things as 'lao'.
i think the 'correct' way to pronounce something is somewhat influenced by culture. don't some english people say 'slippy' when american people would say 'slippery'? to us, slippery is correct. to them, slippy is correct.
American English is very different to mine, second language English too. In fact I'm from Yorkshire, so my English is very different from native Londoners.
Surely this is just a tomato/tomayto debate?
Anyway, for those of you who say it doesn't matter, I assume you don't care if I come up with new ways to pronounce your country's name???
"The difference between loneliness and solitude is your perception of who you are alone with and who made the choice." --anonymous quote
And you'll get bonus smug points if you tell everyone you meet that Lao PDR is so much more authentic than Ratcha Anachak Thai.
Seriously, though, the name for every country varies depending on the language. And it's so situational, yeah? I don't care that they say Amrikee in Amman and Les Etats Unis in Paris.
On the other hand, if you come to Hawai`i you'll get extra special aloha if you spend the time to learn how to pronounce our towns and islands properly. And Japanese people I know wince if you say "Tokyo" with more than two syllables ("kyo" is one quick syllable. To-kyo. Same with Kyo-to. Not, as I grew up saying, To-kee-yo. Oh wee oh).
I digress. Everything is relative. Sometimes you are a total wanker if you try to give a place a local pronunciation, and sometimes you are showing respect.
I have fun with the Chinese (Zhong Guo Ren) as I call their leader Hu JinTao - Hugh Johnson, to any of them who refer to Kevin Rudd (the Australian Prime Minister as "LuKeWen" which is his adopted Chinese name. We call things by what we are comfortable with I think.
Just go with the flow.
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