Isaan language
Isaan is a variety of Lao spoken in North-Eastern Thailand. It is primarily a spoken language. There are various dialects and no universally accepted standard. This website is concerned with the variety spoken in Khon Kaen province.

On this page, I share recordings and other documents which I use to learn Isaan. It goes without saying that these materials are somewhat artificial and leave many areas of real communication uncovered. They are tailored towards my own needs and interests. While I try to be accurate, transcripts and vocabulary glosses are constantly evolving and should be taken as indicative only. Nevertheless, I hope that learners interested in Isaan will find these materials useful.

There's a tone guide with recordings explaining the tones and the spelling system used on these pages. There's also an illustration for Gedney words which can be used with other Tai varities. Then there's a dictionary with the words of the published recordings; as I publish more recordings, the dictionary will grow.

The first category of recordings are stories — unscripted narratives of memories or other experiences; stories are usually difficult and can be fast-paced. Then there are vocabulary recordings explaining or exemplifying specific words. These recordings seem to be less difficult but aren't easy either. Next are question and answer style recordings based on a set of 800 illustrations — basic vocabulary. These recordings are relatively easy, highly repetitive and a good starting point for beginners. Finally, there are recordings of communicative functions, also based on a set of illustrations and of medium difficulty.

Native speakers
Currently, I'm working with one speaker, Ton (M, Khon Kaen). For a brief description see the Native Speakers page.

Latest additions

Type of material Item Link
Tone guide Isaan Tones — description of the tones and explanation of the writing system
Recordings of the Gedney word list (A1234, B1234, C1234, DL1234, DS1234)
Gedney word list — Illustration
Dictionary Small Isaan-English dictionary for the published recordings
Stories Childhood memory: jumping off a tree branch into a pile of straw, branch breaks
Dog getting dirty
Vocabulary recordings อ้าซ่าว่า = to stand open (also: งับ = to close)
เห็นอยู่ติ, กินเข้าบ่, ไปนำบ่, นอนแล้วติ, ไปตั๊วะ/แม่นตั๊วะ
สะออน, ออนสอน
ตำบักหุ่ง = papaya salad
มื้อนี้, มื้อวาน, มื้อก่อน, มื้ออื่น, มื้อฮือ
เข้างาย, เข้าสวย, เข้าแลง
Basic vocabulary long/short, trousers, shirt
to open/close, door, key
pig, axe/hatchet, to kill, meat, meat sticks, to roast/grill
window, to open/close
tall, short
sink, tap, to open/close, soap, to wash
pen, noteblock, to write, to draw
daytime, sun, cloud, rain, lightning
large/small, fish, ball
onion, garlic
bed, to sleep, to dream, cat
A/C, remote, cold, bedroom, bed/pillow/blanket, to switch on/off
chicken, to run, to eat
noodle soup, chicken, pork, chili
box, TV, to plug in
toothbrush, toothpaste, to brush one's teeth
ear, to hear/listen, radio, music, headphones
airplane, to fly, to land, to fall/crash
lime, sour, to squeeze
leaf, tree, lotus, frog
bottle, expensive/cheap, car, crab, noodle soup
dog, bone, cat, to chase, to run
light, switch, to switch on/off, bright/dark
river, bridge, to cross, to walk, bike, motorbike, car
radio, to switch on/off, quiet/loud
fork, to eat, to clean/wash
noodle soup, to order, to eat, money, to pay
pan, to fry, gas, fish
to love, mother/child, ice cream
box, ball, flip flops, pot
to feed, chicken, fish, dog, bone, rice, child
candle, to light, match, lighter
incense stick, to light, match
egg, duck, chicken, to knock open, to fry
mosquito, to bite, blood, to slap
boy, girl, to stand, thin, fat
train, station, to arrive/depart, truck
alarm clock, to sleep, to get up
pot, to cook
heavy, light, to weigh, stone, to lift
ladle, pot, spoon, coffee, to stir
watermelon, soft drink, yes
mouth, to speak/talk
leg, foot, knee
to sit
water buffalo, grass
phone, to call, to talk
to follow, water buffalo, duck
paper, pen, to write, scissors, to cut
nose, to smell, flower, to stink, to defecate
clock, hour, minute
bag, key, to lock
house, rain, water jar, bucket, to scoop
to sell/buy, fish, bottle, shirt
tree, leaf, wind, to blow
bus, to get on/off, bus station
family, father, mother, sister, brother
sleeping place, cat, to jump, to sleep
fan, to switch on/off
coffee, sugar
to swim, fish, duck, turtle
hair, short/long, to wash, to cut
ice cube, to melt
laundry, to wash, to dry, to fold
to smile, to be sad, to cry, to be angry
road, car, pot hole, junction
notebook, to charge
doctor, patient, medicine
to smile, to cry, sad, angry
coconut, to cut, drinking straw, to drink
island, beach, wave
house, roof, stairs
motorbike, petrol gauge, petrol station
hand, thumb, index finger
Communicative functions Expressing thanks (1)
Expressing thanks (2)
Greetings and leave takings (informal)
Greetings and leave takings (formal)
Introducing someone else to others
Introducing oneself to others