By William Slater
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Lao serves as the lingua franca between these groups. Linguists identify ﬁve major dialects of Lao according to regions: Vientiane, northern, northeastern, central, and southern. Northern Lao dominates the provinces of Sainyabuli, Bokeo, Phongsali, Luang Nam Tha, Udomxai, and Luang Prabang. Northeastern Lao is spoken primarily in Xiang Khuang and Hua Phan, whereas central Lao is heard in Khammuan and Bolikhamsai. 29 There are many subdialects and diﬀerent vocabularies as well. As part of the Tai-Kadai family of languages, Lao is similar to Thai.
Fa Ngum did not introduce Buddhism to Laos. The religion was established long before him. However, it is possible that he recognized Theravada Buddhism as the religion of Lan Xang, and thus gave Laos its majority faith today. Nor is it true that Fa Ngum single-handedly redeveloped the mandala system or secured his kingdom’s frontiers. Both were achieved over nearly 150 years following the establishment of Lan Xang. Nonetheless, Fa Ngum remains an epic ﬁgure in Laotian history. 6 Fa Ngum was succeeded by his eldest son, Sam Sen Thai (also called Oun Heaun or Unheaun; ruled ca.
Nor is it true that Fa Ngum single-handedly redeveloped the mandala system or secured his kingdom’s frontiers. Both were achieved over nearly 150 years following the establishment of Lan Xang. Nonetheless, Fa Ngum remains an epic ﬁgure in Laotian history. 6 Fa Ngum was succeeded by his eldest son, Sam Sen Thai (also called Oun Heaun or Unheaun; ruled ca. 1373–1416), who was known as the Lord of Three Hundred Thousand Tai, in reference to the number of men at his disposal after a census was taken in 1376.