Laotian belongs to the Tai-Kadai language family and is spoken by approximately 15 million people in Laos and the northeast of Thailand. Laotian speakers have no difficulties understanding spoken Thai because Laotian is closely related to Thai. However, Thai speakers have difficulties understanding Laotian due to a lack of exposure to the language.

Although there are many ethnic groups in Laos and each group has their own language, they usually speak Laotian as well. The Laotian alphabet was modified many times in last 50 years, including a reduction of consonants. This change made the language easier to use for non-native Laotian speakers.