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








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