Lao is a tonal language. According to my Lao teacher there are 6 different tones. Using the incorrect tone may change the meaning of the word. Here are some examples:

I like to ride horses OR I like horse sh**

tired OR pubic hair

I, Me, Myself OR p*nis

You are my friend OR You are my pig

The worse mistakes by volunteers so far have been:

– When asking for the bill at an Indian restaurant to a Lady-boy waitress, a volunteer was told, “Do you realise that you just asked me for s**?”

– When a volunteer tried to explain the meaning of his name was derived from our closest star, “You have said a very bad word. It means the inside of the pu***”.