In Thai there are particles which can be used at the end of many sentences to make them more polite. Different particles are used by male and female speakers:
- "ครับ" (kráp) : male
- "ค่ะ" (kâ) : female
Lao is so closely related to Thai that they are apparently mostly mutually comprehensible.
Yet one of the first things I noticed in the speech when I crossed the border from Thailand to Laos is the complete lack of such particles in Lao. I never hear anybody say them and none of the materials I've seen on Lao describe them. In Thai it's one of the first things you are taught.
- Does Lao have etymologically related words that serve other functions?
- Did Lao have them formerly but they slipped out of usage in the remote or recent past?
- Are they an innovation in Thai since after the point in time the languages diverged from their common ancestor?