I've returned my language focus to Lao now that my travels through Asia have finished and I'm back home. There are not as many or as high quality resources available for Lao as for many other languages so I'm looking for some help to find some things I'm interested in for my investigations.

I would like to find either or both a word frequency and syllable frequency list for Lao.

Normally I make my own frequency lists but as Lao lacks word breaks creating a frequency list requires a good morphological analyser.

Syllables are said to be unambiguous but I'm not convinced. I'm thinking about making my own syllabification algorithm but have not yet done so.

If anybody is aware of a freely available "syllabifier" or morphological analyser for Lao, those would also be of interest.

  • Lao syllables are really unambiguous, for this purpose Lao has everything needed. But there can be problems with the unstable orthography and local varieties. Thai has a very similar script, so mayby it's easier to find a "syllabifier" for Thai and then just modify it to use for Lao.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 25, 2014 at 9:17
  • @YellowSky: Can you show that Lao syllables are unambiguous? Only some vowels have final forms and some consonants can occur at syllable start and end. Pre-reform spellings and acronyms might also be problematic. Thai of course didn't undergo the reform that transformed Lao script from an abugida to an alphabet so I think it would be harder to syllabify. Jun 25, 2014 at 14:01
  • 1
    Lao is a little bit simpler than Thai because of fewer consonant clusters. However, I believe there are lots of ambiguous cases in Lao as well. A classic Thai example is ตากลม which can be syllabified as ตา กลม (round eyes) or ตาก ลม (catch the wind). Also, do you have some corpus of Lao phrases and their proper syllabification? If so, I can extend my syllabifier (which is currently for Thai) to support Lao as well. Jun 26, 2014 at 5:05
  • No I don't have any such corpus. Resources on Lao are pretty thin on the ground. Thanks for the great ambiguity example! Jun 27, 2014 at 0:31
  • @bytebuster: You might get more than I did out of the paper I found and just posted as an answer. Jun 27, 2014 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


I have found this one, the icu_tokenizer.

The icu_tokenizer uses the same Unicode Text Segmentation algorithm as the standard tokenizer, but adds better support for some Asian languages by using a dictionary-based approach to identify words in Thai, Lao, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and using custom rules to break Myanmar and Khmer text into syllables.

Since I'm bad in coding, I cannot test it myself, so I just hope it will be of some use for you.

  • Ah yes I know of ICU of course, but I either didn't know about its tokenizing for SEA languages, or maybe I used to know and forgot (-: Jun 25, 2014 at 14:03

I found one paper on the Internet which presents a syllabification algorithm for Lao:

Syllabification of Lao Script for Line Breaking

I don't find it fully describes what it purports to though and it seems to cover syllable structures I'm so far unaware of in Lao.

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