Posts Tagged ‘vietnam’

Vietnam – its culture and language

 

We’ll start simple.  Let’s do that by simply translating the word “ WHAT “ into Vietnamese.  The 1st translated word you will get on Google translation is “ “ , also known as “ cái gì “.

So tell me, in English, how do you answer when someone calls for you?  You say “What?”, right?  Well, it’s a bit different in Vietnam.  Age is a major importance.  Me, I’m ethnicly Vietnamese but have only lived there for a few years so I’ve picked up the American culture since I was very little.  Coming back to Vietnam, I realize that depending on where you stand as an individual, there is a different name for each and every person you meet in the society. 

For example, if that someone was younger than you – you call them “ em “.  If they were a bit older than you ( and is a female ) – you call them “ chị “.  Then, if they were a male – you call them “ anh “.  For people who are old enough to be your aunts/uncles – you call them “ “ (woman) and “ chú “ (man).  As for older people, you call them “ ông “ (man) and “ “ (woman).

Of course, this only works for people who live in Southern Vietnam.  Up in the North, it is much different – even I have no idea what they are.  This is to say, Vietnamese is a complex language.  And when you reach up to the mountains where all the minorities live, they don’t even speak Vietnamese!  They’re still in Vietnam, but they are not Vietnamese.   That’s the unique thing, I guess.

So back to the main point.  As we are the youngsters, we must show respect to almost everybody in the society.  How we talk, react and respond are very important.  People don’t blame you for your misbehaviors..  They blame your parents. 

English is really easy.  Your sister calls you, you say “What?”.  Your father calls you, you say “What?”.  Your grandfather calls you, you say “What?”.  But that “What” (as translated “ cái gì “ ) is the rudest and most disrespectful way of answering someone in Vietnam.  I got scolded at for just saying “ cái gì” once, and everyone looked at me like I was some evil devil from underneath hell.  So when you DO go to Vietnam I suggest you be careful of how you reply, because even with Google translation, you could still be glared at with an evil eye.

(Oh god, I just paused to take a sip of water from my cup that ants somehow crawled in..  Ew I feel blerrrg, I just drank ants!)

Body language is also an important fact.  For instance you’re trying to call someone over.  I notice that us Americans always have our palms faced up and then our fingers start the come-towards-me movement.  Woah, in Vietnam – that would be a BIG mistake.  You do that and they will practically come and beat you up! In others words, in Vietnam, we only do that hand movement to dogs or animals.  If it was done towards a human being, it would be degrading and the last thing you’d really want to do.  Ok, I’m overexagerating, but I’m serious, they’ll hate you to death if you do.

Oh I almost forgot!  Another funny fact about Vietnam culture is that they dislike having dark skin.  When I first came back to Vietnam, I felt like an outsider because I was dark.  Nah, not dark dark, but a tan dark.  Even then, people look at me like I’m some freak show.  They laugh at me, tell me how “ugly’ my skin color is and how much prettier I’d be if I were white.  It really hurt at first, but as time went by I got used to all the criticisms. 

But like people say, there is a reason to everything.  The reason to THIS was very simple, but as we have been such “outsiders” and only neighbors in their world, we would never could have guessed. 

In the US, people like to tan.  They like to look like they’ve just been back from a vacation.  They like to look like they’ve had fun and the most important, I think, is because they want others to think that they have the chance, the opportunity to even go on a vacation.  As we all know the economy in the states is really going down and alot of people just don’t have the money to spend on holidays and vacations as much…

It’s totally opposite in Vietnam.  You’re poor – that’s why you had to work out in the fields, and that’s why you’re dark!  I’m rich – that’s why I get to stay home all day, hang out and that’s how I’m white – just like the Americans!  To be honest, knowing this fact made me feel a lot better.  I just eventually didn’t care what they thought about me or my skin color..

There are so many more interesting facts about Vietnam, but I think I’m gonna build up more and more posts for later. :p    So if you like it, come back to read more next time! 

We’ll keep updating.

Vanessa

 

 

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