20 Sep 2013, 4:07pm
Vietnamese language:


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  • Comparison related to animals

    One of the interesting features of Vietnamese language is a change of semantics; same word can have different meanings, figurative senses or be synonymous or antonymous, and so on. Furthermore, there are a lot of interesting comparisons and metaphors in Vietnamese by using animals to insinuate what speakers want to say.

    For examples: “lừa, cò, bò, heo, cáy, chó, mèo, cua, trâu, cọp, and so forth…

    Take “lừa” as an example: the word has two original meanings: a) a mammal, its scientific name is Equus asinus, belong to Equidae or horse family,  and b) both noun and verbs means lừa lọc (cheat), lừa đảo (fraud), lừa gạt, deception, lừa phỉnh, đánh lừa, etc. (all have bad implications, not transparent).

    If they say “đồ con lừa!”, it means they want to imply that someone is so stupid.


    Ốm như đói (thin like a stork)

    Anh ta là một gã nhà (the “cò” here has no connection with a stork, it means he is a real estate broker)

    Ngu như (stupid like a cow)

    Em bé bảy tháng đã biết (the word “bò” has no connection with a cow, it means the baby can crawl at 7 months of age)

    Mập như heo (fat like a pig), ăn như heo (eat like a pig)

    Gió heo may (the word “heo” has no connection with any pig, it indicates a slightly cold and dry wind blowing in Autumn)

    Nhát như cáy (timid like a rabbit/ a fiddler crab)

    Bánh cáy (it has no connection with a fiddler crab, it is a cake which is made of rice crispies, popcorn, molasses)

    Ngang như cua (obstinate like a crab)

    Cua gái (it has no connection with a crab, it means wooing a girl)


    …and some psychic images, too, such as: ma, quỷ, etc…

    Xấu như ma (ugly like a ghost)

    Có ma nào ở đây đâu (it means there is nobody in the place)

    Ranh như quỷ (sly like an evil)

    Quái quỷ thật! (Something make you angry and you say it, just like “damn it!” in English)

    Sometimes, it is quite easy to learn Vietnamese if know how to apply it. You can do the same to the above examples if you know any animal’s characteristic such as:

    Rửa mặt như mèo (wash face like a cat)

    Lỳ như trâu (dogged like a buffalo)

    Dữ như cọp (fierce like a tiger)

    To understand and learn more, let’s join us in easyvietnamese.com/en


    6 Sep 2013, 3:07pm

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  • “Lợi hại”

    Today I will talk a bit about how to use the word “lợi” of Vietnamese. As you know, the wording of Vietnamese people is very flexible and each has its own different meaning.

    “Lợi” standing alone means: benefit / get benefit from something. And when becoming a compound word, it also means gaining benefit from something depending on which word it goes with.
    For example:
    Lợi ích: Bring you good things (money, material, ect.)
    Lợi nhuận: Earn money from an investment in something.
    Lợi lộc: Inherit something from others or get benefit from a certain action.
    Lợi thế: have an advantage of something over others when competing in a field, a game.
    There are many compound words like that and most of them mean to receive benefits from something, but there is a common compound word in Vietnamese which contains “lợi”, but has a completely different meaning. It is “lợi hại.” You can separate it into “lợi” (benefit) and “hại” (damage), but when you combine the two words to each other, it has a completely different meaning describing something very excellent, extraordinary.

    For example:

    A: Mình vừa giải được bài toán khó thầy giao hôm thứ sáu.

    B: Bạn thật là “lợi hại”.

    (A: I have just solved the difficult problem the teacher gave us on Friday.
    B: You are really excellent!)
    I have three girlfriends at a same time.
    You rock!

    The “lợi hại” is not relevant to “benefit” or “damage”, but it means “good or excellent.”

    You see, the wording of the Vietnamese people is very rich, so I hope that this is useful for you.

    23 Aug 2013, 10:41pm
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  • Shuffling words in a sentence

    As you know, Vietnamese is not so difficult if you use it normally by connecting word together, but to understand deep structures of wordplay in Vietnamese is a long journey for leaner. The way to put a “comma” in Vietnamese is very important and so the word mix-up. If you put a comma in a right place, it will completely change the meaning of the sentence.
    For example:
    Đàn bà không có đàn ông sẽ khủng hoảng.

    If you put a comma in the following positions:
    Đàn bà không có đàn ông, sẽ khủng hoảng.

    (If there are no men, women will be in crisis)
    Đàn bà không có, đàn ông sẽ khủng hoảng.

    (Without women, men will be in crisis)

    And just like the ‘comma’, of course,  when mixing up words in a sentence, its meaning will be completely changed or sometimes remain unchanged .
    There is an example below, the person A says to B:
    Mày đến sao không bảo?

    Let’s see the way of mixing up words as follow:

    Mày đến sao không bảo?  (A asks B, why did B come without telling A first?)

    Sao đến mày không bảo? (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Không bảo sao mày đến?  (A asks B, A did not ask B to come, why did B come?)

    Mày không bảo sao đến?  (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Không bảo sao đến mày? (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Mày sao bảo không đến? (A asks B, B said B did not come, but why does B come now?

    Sao bảo mày không đến? (Synonymous of the above sentence)

    Bảo mày sao không đến? (A asks B, A asked B to come, but B did not come)

    You see, developing a sentence by mixing up words will provide many new meanings. Vietnamese’s wordplay is very popular and hardly has any rules. What I write here just so you can understand the wordplay of Vietnamese, and know more about Vietnamese. The important thing is that you need to learn much to be able to use it properly. Wish you luck.