Thailand, the land of smiles, is no different.

Those smiles are for foreigners, not their own estranged brothers. Comedians will come on TV in Thailand and recite a little speech in Lao, not normal speech, but something specifically designed to be intelligible to Thais but also laughable because of their inability to speak ‘correct’ Thai. And that’s the whole joke, making their fellow Laos a laughing stock, even though the two dialects are very close, Lao being relatively ‘central’ to the entire family of languages, essentially ‘more pure’ in the sense that London English is more pure than Californian, though less popular internationally. A large percentage of modern Thais from the northeast, also, speak a Lao dialect as their local language, as do northerners and southerners their own dialects. Far more ‘bumpkin’ would be the northern dialect, though it’s never laughed at, being a good obedient son, more picturesque, and closer to the hearts of the average Thai. Laos and the northeast still carry the taint of communism, very un-Thai. Lao people, in turn, revile and insult the ‘black Tais’ resident in much of the country, the original and most traditional Tais. As Jackie Chan once said, “In China, everything face.” Someone else said, “You’re in Chinatown, Jake.”