Tieng Viet

Belated ‘Happy Gudi Padwa’, Happy Ugadhi, Happy Lohri etc etc etc. We have been doing well. Weather has been all changing. Couple of days back, it got really hot. As in, hot by Hanoi standards. Temperature exceeded 25 degrees etc. After couple of hot and sunny (again by Hanoi standards sunny) days, we suddenly had a quick thunderstorm and torrents yesterday and the weather is back to cool now. 🙂

I have been meaning to write something about Vietnamese language. I should have first written something about Bahasa Indonesia first logically, but probably that I will keep mentioning from time to time…

Coming to Vietnamese language – here are my few observations:-

  1. While the script is Latin, this language is not at all phonetic, so whatever you read and what you say aloud (reading that word) may be totally different. Eg: ‘Tran’ in Vietnamese is pronounced as ‘Chun’ (‘u’ like ‘umbrella’) . Trust me, unless you have a map or properly written down address with you, explaining to cabbie is a HUGE task. For that matter, explaining to the waiters, shopkeepers etc etc etc too.
  2. If you ask me, I would describe it thus – this language is similar to the sounds made when empty vessels are thrown/ banged upon etc etc. For eg – Dung / dong/ Than/ Thic etc are words with serious meanings here… (In the near future probably Swapnil will know if he reads his new ‘Fad faad Vietnamese’ guide…
  3. Probably 1 in every two Vietnamese has been named Nguyen (which btw is pronounced as Juven) and the remaining people are named Hoa` (pronounced as Hay – with ‘a’ like umbrella)… there are so many Ngyens and Hoa`s that you begin to question the creativity of the Vietnamese here… 🙂
  4. Almost everybody has working knowledge of English in Hanoi. And by that, I mean they mostly know the following words – ‘Madame’ (the French connection. They were once a French colony), ‘How Much’, ‘Dolah’ (Dollar), ‘Cheap cheap’ and ‘for you’.
  5. Oh… and I forgot to mention OKAY. OK is used here interchangeably for ‘yes’ and ‘ I agree’ and some other purposes which I am yet to figure out. 🙂

Most of my conversations with various shopkeepers go as follows:

Me – Price?

Shopkeeper – Okay.

Me – What is the PRICE? Price? P-RR-I-C-E??

Shopkeeper – Okay.

Me – How much?

Shopkeeper to me – Madame – 100,000 Dong.

Me – Shake of head indicating no

Shopkeeper – Madame, how much, how much

Me – Still shaking head saying no

Shopkeeper – Madame, 70,000 Dong. Cheap Cheap. For you.

Me – 50,000 Dong.

Shopkeeper – Okay. Cheap cheap. For you. You. good lady. My first customer. you lucky for me.

Me – (handing over the money and taking the thing) how to go to Hoan Kiem lake? Hoan Kiem?? HOAN KIEM??

Shopkeeper – Okay. Okay

Me – H-O-A-N  K-I-E-M

(for some reason my reflex action when they dont understand what I mean is to repeat it slowly and at a substantially higher pitch. I know raising voice is stupid. They are not deaf. But this is reflex action.I cant help it.

Shopkeeper – Okay.

Me – fishing out hotel’s card behind which there is rough map of the area .

Shopkeeper – Okay.

Me – begins to leave

Shopkeeper – finally raises hand and indicates that I have to take right.)

Anyways, bye for now

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