30 Nov -0001, 12:00am
Vietnamese language

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  • The interesting of the word “ăn”

    “Eat” is the basic word in the language of each nation. The word “ăn” in Vietnamese is very interesting. It reflect the special conscious process of Vietnamese about the eating action.

    The Vietnamese has a lot of way to use the word “ăn”:

    1. “Ăn” with the normal meaning is “food digestion”: ăn cơm (to eat rice), ăn sáng (to have breakfast), ăn tối (to have dinner), ăn bánh (to eat cake), ăn kem (to eat ice-cream)…
    2. Lifeless object is also have the action of “ăn”: ăn xăng (to use fuel), ăn than (to use coal), this is the way to say about the using of fuel, coal for operating. Besides, we have the word ăn hàng (the ship is loading cargo). Nước ăn chân (the skin of legs is peeled off when soaking too much in water), ăn mòn (acid eats into metal), bị ăn cụt vốn (bankruptcy, have no more funds).
    3. “Ăn” with the meaning of “was punished” and “regrest”: ăn đòn, ăn roi (to get spanked), ăn năn (to feel regret for something has done)
    4. “Ăn” with the meaning of receiving: dead is the receiving of earth, so ăn đất is the metaphorical way to call the dead.
    5. “Ăn” with the meaning of something illegitimate, bad: ăn bám, ăn hại , ăn ké , ăn báo cô (to live a parasitic life), ăn chực (to freeload), ăn vụng (to eat on the sly); ăn cắp, ăn trộm (to rob, to steal), ăn gian (to cheat), ăn hớt ( to profit by other’s labor), ăn sương (using for nightwalker). For the people who use their power to make profit in an improper way, we have these words: ăn chặn, ăn chẹt, ăn tiền, ăn đút lót, ăn hối lộ.
    6. Using “ăn” when taking about the exchange value or the bet: đặt một ăn ba (bet three to one), ăn giá (the value of something). Ăn vạ (forcing somebody to compensate for something)
    7. “Ăn”  in the meaning of harmonious with each other: ăn ý (understand somebody’s intention), ăn nhịp (to be in tune with something/somebody)
    8. “Ăn” in the formula of “ăn + X”: we have:

    - “X” is the reason: ăn tết (to celebrate Luna New Year), ăn tân gia (to hold a housewarming), ăn hỏi (to attend a betrothal ceremony), ăn khao (to celebrate a happy event by giving a banquet), ăn giỗ (to attend a feast in honor of the dead anniversary), ăn cơm khách (to eat as a guest).

    -  “X” is the nature, mode: ăn vặt (to nosh), ăn xin, ăn mày (to panhandle).

    -  “X” is a verb, using when talking about something in general: ăn học (to study), ăn tiêu (to spend), ăn mặc (to dress), ăn ngủ (to live with), ăn nói (to speak), ăn nhậu (to indulge in drink), ăn chia (to share something with somebody), Ăn chơi (to make mention of playing more than learning and working), Ăn ở (the behavior in life). Ăn nằm (two people having sexual relationship).

    The way to develop the meaning of the word “ăn” is very plentiful, but many special way is losing in modern society.

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