Lao, the official language and the language of the ethnic Lao, is closely related to the language of Thailand. It is monosyllabic and tonal and contains words borrowed from Sanskrit, Pali, and Farsi. Pali, a Sanskritic language, is used among the Buddhist priesthood.
Other groups speak the Tibeto–Burman, Non-Khmer, or Miao–Yao languages. French, formerly the principal language of government and higher education, has been largely replaced by Lao. English and various ethnic languages are also spoken.