2 Aug 2013, 12:48pm
Vietnamese language:

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  • The changing of Vietnamese accent from the North to the South

    Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups, and also has a lot of languages. But in this article, I just want to talk about the orthodox language of Vietnamese. When making a research, you will recognize that there is a changing of Vietnamese accent from the North to the South of Vietnam, this changing is gradational  between close areas. However, Vietnamese accent can be divide clearly into three regions: Northern accent, Central accent and Southern accent

    PART 1: NORTHERN ACCENT: including provinces, cities from Thanh Hoa to the last at north pole.

    The people living in the North have an ethereal voice. An ancient document that a Chinese mandarin wrote to report to China Court described how the Vietnamese like the chirp of birds. That voice is certain Northern accent, because at that time, the Central and the South were not belonged to Vietnam yet.

    However, even within the North scale, the voice also change from region to region. Northern accent has a little bit lisp and pronounce [L] and [N] is /n/.


    Lẫn lộn (wrong) is pronounced: nẫn nộn.

    Làng nước (village) is pronounced: nàng nước.

    But northern accent has strong points: the discrimination of ending consonants: [C] and [T], [N] and [NG], beginning consonants [D] and [Gi].

    Example: Northern people never confuse between :

    Cắc in bạc cắc (small change) and cắt in cắt thịt (to cut meat)

    Khăn in cái khăn (towel) and khăng in khăng khăng (persist)

    Giây in giây phút (second of time) and dây in dây thừng (rope)

    As regards the timbre, northern accent distinguish the diacritic: dấu hỏi (   ) and dấu ngã (~). It should be noted that the symbol (~) at the beginning is used not only to pronounce from low soar to high, but also to replace for the ending consonant [NG]


    In some ancient documents, instead of writing: đi cùng (to go with), they wrote: đi cũ.

    Is it true that this shows the effect of the people use northern accent in the formation of today Vietnamese scrip.

    Besides, weak points of northern accent are that it does not distinguish some beginning consonants:

    [CH] and [Tr] is pronounced [CH]

    [S] and [X] is pronounced [X]


    Châu in Châu Á (Asia) and trâu in con trâu (buffalo) is all pronounced [châu]

    Sanh in sanh sản (bear) and xanh in màu xanh (green) is all pronounced [xanh].

    26 Jul 2013, 2:52pm
    Vietnamese language:

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  • Mấy vs bao nhiêu

    ‘Mấy’ and ‘bao nhiêu’ are very common question words which you can easily hear in everyday conversation. For example,

    Hôm nay là ngày mấy? (What’s the date today?)

    Anh muốn mua mấy cái bàn? (How many desks do you want to buy?)

    Chị ơi, cái này bao nhiêu tiền? (Excuse me, how much is this?)

    Although ‘mấy’ and ‘bao nhiêu’ can be heard daily, it’s still hard for foreigners to distinguish them and to use them correctly.  On this blog, I will make it clear for you to understand thoroughly.

    Firstly, ‘bao nhiêu’ and ‘mấy’, which mean ‘how much/how many’ in English, are the interrogative words used to ask about quantity. The word ‘mấy’ is used to ask about a certain quantity whose amount is not more than 10 or considered to be small by the speaker. However, the word ‘bao nhiêu’ is used to ask about a quantity whose amount is more than 10 or cannot estimate (much or few).


    Cậu có mấy cái bút? – Mình có hai cái.

    How many pens do you have? – I have two.

    Lớp anh có mấy người? – Tám người.

    How many students are there in your class? – Eight people.

    Công ty anh có bao nhiêu nhân viên? – Ba mươi.

    How many employees are there in your company? – Thirty.

    Chị đã học tiếng Việt mấy năm? – 5 năm.

    How many years have you studied Vietnamese? – 5 years.

    Ông ấy nói được mấy thứ tiếng?

    How many languages can he speak?

    For the reason above, Vietnamese people often use the expression ‘mấy tuổi’ to ask about the age of a child and ‘bao nhiêu tuổi’ to ask about the age of an adult. If you want be regarded as a polite person, you should know how to use ‘mấy’ and ‘bao nhiêu’ in different situations. Remember: do not use ‘mấy tuổi’ to ask the age of an elderly person.


    Năm nay con mấy tuổi? – Dạ, con 5 tuổi. (How old are you this year? – I’m 5 years old.)

    Ông bao nhiêu tuổi rồi? – Tôi đã sáu mươi tuổi. (How old are you? – I’m sixty years old.)

    Secondly, in most cases, however, ‘mấy’ and ‘bao nhiêu’ can be used to replace each other without any changes in meaning.


    Anh đi mấy người? (How many are you?)

    Anh đi bao nhiêu người? (How many are you?)

    Cô Mai đến Đài Loan mấy lần rồi? (How many times has Ms. Mai been to Taiwan?)

    Cô Mai đến Đài Loan bao nhiêu lần rồi? (How many times has Ms. Mai been to Taiwan?)

    Sinh nhật em ngày mấy? (What date is your birthday?)

    Sinh nhật em ngày bao nhiêu? (What date is your birthday?)

    Thirdly, there is a little difference in meaning when moving the position of ‘mấy’ and ‘bao nhiêu’ in a sentence.

    + The structure “mấy / bao nhiêu + noun” is used to ask for a certain number.


    Anh đi mấy ngày? (How many days did you go?)

    Chị muốn mua bao nhiêu cái bánh? (How many cakes would you like to buy?)

    + The structure “noun + mấy / bao nhiêu” is used to ask for an order or an ordinal number.

    Hôm nay ngày mấy? (What’s the date today?)

    Bạn đứng hạng mấy trong lớp mình? (Where are you on the ranking table of our class?)

    Finally, I have to note that Vietnamese people do not use ‘mấy tiền’ to ask for price of something. Instead, they often say ‘bao nhiêu tiền’.


    Cái đó bao nhiêu tiền? (How much is that?)

    Cô ấy kiếm được bao nhiêu tiền? (How much does she earn?)

    However, Vietnamese people often say ‘mấy ngàn, mấy trăm ngàn, mấy triệu’ in order to ask about exact numbers of the cost of something.


    Bánh mì mấy ngàn một ổ? (How much does a loaf of bread cost?)

    Cái điện thoại di động này mấy triệu vậy? (How much is this mobile phone?)

    5 Jan 2013, 9:45am
    Vietnamese language

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  • Black colour in Vietnamese

    In English, we just have the word “black” to call all the things, animals are in black colour.
    In Vietnamese, there are some special ways to call something in black:
    black horse: ngựa đen
    black dog: chó mực
    black cat: mèo mun
    013 Black colour in Vietnamese

    Mèo mun

    black chicken: gà quạ
    the dust of smoke clings on the wall: bồ hóng
    black ink: mực tàu
    black hair: tóc nhung, tóc huyền
    black eye: mắt huyền
    black cuttlefish: mực xạ
    black buffalo: trâu mốc
    black trousers: quần thâm:

    Some Vietnamese idioms
    cột nhà cháy: (burned column of a house) – a funny way to call black skin
    tóc xanh: (green hair) – a way to call the people still young

    Besides, when using the word “đen” to call someone or something, it’s usually has the bad meaning:
    sổ đen: a book use to report name of bad people
    xã hội đen: criminal world, demimonde.
    vận đen: misfortune, unlucky
    đen đủi: unlucky
    dân đen: the people who have no power, no social standing in the country
    đen đỏ or đỏ đen: Gambling.
    web đen: websites that have the bad content, usually about debauchery.
    tim đen: something in mind that you don’t want the other know.
    rùa đen: the people who did the bad things
    chợ đen: illegal market
    tối đen: very dark
    đen bạc: in this sentence: ăn ở đen bạc, it has the meaning of ungratefulness, But in the sentence đen bạc đỏ tình: it’s not the above meaning, but that is unlucky in this field (gambling), but lucky in the other (love).

    And when mention about the level, Vietnamese has a lot of levels of “đen” (black colour):
    đen bóng, đen giòn, đen kịt, đen nhánh, đen sì, đen thủi, đen thui. Đen tuyền, đen thắm, tím đen, đen ngắt, đen thẳm, đen thùi lùi, đen óng: usually used to call somebody or something’s skin color.
    đen ngòm, Đen nghịt: very black, the dark,
    con sông đen ngòm – the river is very black, very dusty.
    but đen nghịt is also đông nghịt: used to call a place that have too much people.
    đen tối: use to call the bad thinking of somebody.(ex: “tư tưởng đen tối”) It was also used to call the dark period in history, there were a lot of terrorisms, bloody massacres.
    đen đét is not a color, that’s the sound when using hand or rod slap on skin
    But when you double this word
    đen đen: It mean just a little black color, a light black.