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


    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].

    12 Jul 2013, 1:00am
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  • Comma

    commas2 Comma


    The comma is one of the most important punctuation marks in Vietnamese. Here is a story which shows us the importance of the comma. Once upon a time in Vietnam, there was a young couple who had loved each other for many years. Because of a lack of money, the man decided to work abroad to earn enough money to marry his lover. Several months passed by without receiving news from the boyfriend, the girl made up her mind to write him a letter and said that she did not have enough patience to wait until he came back. After receiving the letter, the man hastily wrote in reply to his girlfriend’s letter with only three words: ‘Đừng chờ anh!” (Don’t wait for me!). And thus the girl got married with another man. Coming back to Vietnam six months later, the man accused her of having a change of heart. The girl then took out the old letter, gave it to him. He was too shocked to remain conscious. He had missed a comma in his letter while of unsound mind. Actually, he meant to say, ‘Đừng, chờ anh!’ (Please, wait for me!).

    Missing a comma has changed meaning of the sentence in the letter, which cause the biggest regret of the man’s life in the story. Therefore, it is essential that we have to be careful in our writing, and put a comma in the right place. Putting a comma in a suitable place will make it clear for readers. Here are some simple rules.

    - Firstly, the comma is normally used to divide a sentence into elements, or to separate the main elements of a sentence from each other.

    Ex:      Ba đi làm, mẹ đi mua sắm, còn con đi học.

    Daddy goes to work, mommy goes shopping, and I go to school.

    Nam, Hoa, Lan sắp hoàn thành bài thuyết trình.

    (Nam, Hoa, and Lan are going to finish the presentation.)

    - Commas can be used to separate elements in a series.

    Ex:      Tôi thích nhiều món ăn vặt như hột vịt lộn, bò bía, gỏi cuốn, v.v…

    (I like a lot of snack foods such as half-hatched eggs, bo bia spring rolls, fresh salad rolls, etc.)

    - We can also use a comma to separate the adverbial phrase or clause from the main clause of a sentence.

    Ex:      Ngày mai, tôi đi xem phim. (I will go to the cinema tomorrow.)

    Hàng năm, cứ vào cuối thu, lá ngoài đường rụng nhiều. (Every year, in late autumn, leaves fall a lot in the street.)

    In spoken Vietnamese, commas are important for creating pause time. A pause in the right place at the right time gives you: time to breathe, time to consider what it is you’re going to say next, time to receive, and digest the feedback you’re getting from your audience. You should remember that the pause of a comma a bit shorter than a full stop.

    Below are some more interesting examples which will show you that moving the position of a comma could change the meaning of the sentence completely.

    Khi uống bia, không được cho đường. (Drink beer, do not add sugar.)

    Khi uống bia không được, cho đường. (Can’t drink beer, add sugar.)

    Khi uống bia không, được cho đường. (Drink beer without ice, can add sugar.)

    In conclusion, if commas are used properly, they will help the readers to be aware of the writing’s intended meaning. Don’t forget: ‘First think, then put a comma.’