Long time no see! Lâu quá rồi không gặp!

Standard

My last post here was dated December 30, 2013. Today is October 4, 2015. I had said I had hoped my hiatus wouldn’t turn out to be permanent. Oh well… Life happens. To all of my friends and supportive readers, I’m very sooooorrrrry about the long hiatus!!!!!

A lot has happened since then. I finished my language study in China, gained a lot of good friends, got a job, breathed in quite a lot of P.M 2.5 in Beijing (the tiny, tiny toxic particles in the air that can pass through your lung membrane and enter your blood stream and reduce your life expectancy by 5 years – maybe I should blame the blog’s prolonged hiatus on PM 2.5?).

It warms my heart to think that you’d be able to find good-natured, kind-hearted people anywhere in the world, regardless of your background, upbringing, the types of food you eat, your customs and so on. Language in any case serves as either the barrier or the bridge to friendship. In my case, my investment paid off and I got a Chinese bridge (pun on the Chinese language competition).

But anyhow, lots of good things came to an end. I had a good year in China, and then moved forward. I had to think about a career, and so moved to the next place: the only country in the world whose official language is Vietnamese!

Guess where I’m based now? Hanoi.

Stuck in a 9-5 corporate job. Ooops. Wrong career choice. It’s relatively well-paid and I’ve always thought I’d settled down somewhere in a 9-5 white collar office job, but after a year I’m bored to tears at my job and stressed out. Common story, eh? Also adding to the hiatus is the fact that I had a lot of readjustments to make when back in Vietnam. I’ve been away from the country for 10 years, since I was a kid. Saying the country has changed a lot is an understatement. Imagine the legendary bamboo that grew 2 meter (6 ft 5) overnight.

hoa_binh_mai_chau_12

So now I’d like go back to my roots, to doing what I’ve always enjoyed doing: teaching and learning languages.

One thing though: I’ve been out of commission for so long, so to all of those who asked what to do after reading my blog, that’s a question that will take me a while to answer.

There’s a very helpful Facebook group for Vietnamese learners: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tiengvietnerds/

You can ask questions in English and get the answer in English, or if you’re more advanced, ask and get an answer in Vietnamese!

For TV, not sure if you can access this overseas, but there’s a site called Zing TV (http://tv.zing.vn/) and Zing music app with a lot of Vietnamese songs (they have English interface). I was never a fan of learning Vietnamese through songs since Vietnamese lyrics are too flowery for practical use, but hey, check out the new music. It maybe better now.

What’s next for the site, and when? It’ll take a while for me to gather myself together. Ideally I’d like to explain more intermediate stuff, start the audio sessions (been wanting to do this for a long while but never really had enough resources), get a part time job teaching Vietnamese here (my full time corporate gig foots the bills unfortunately) to gain more experience and get a sense of what is most useful for learners.

Anyhow, I’m back (and hopefully will be better than ever)! Cheers!

China Year End Update

Standard

Dear friends and readers,

I’m almost finishing my semester in Nanjing, China, freezing in my no-heater dorm room, and waiting to take the final exam before I finally can pack my bag and fly south during the school break.

It has been interesting on the language front, to say the least.
As it turns out, Vietnamese has a lot of expressions, cultural references, and abstract words imported from the Chinese language and China back in the old days (Pre-1500s I assume).
I should just translate my Chinese textbook into Vietnamese, because Vietnamese textbooks seem to be clueless about teaching their own language to speakers of other languages.
That seems to be quite an undertaking, so I’ll take it slowly next year, while figuring out how to have regular access to WordPress in China.
The experience also quite opens my eyes to topics that I’ve never even considered talking about when explaining Vietnamese, and makes me weary of language teachers who don’t know anything other than their mother tongue and their own country’s culture.

As for my personal battle, I feel immensely grateful that Vietnamese does not use the Chinese script 汉字 or the Japanese 漢字 (royal pain!), so I don’t ever have to teach them.

On a side note, the school here has a number of Southeast Asian students, and I’ve discovered that the sound of the Thai language and Laos language sound a lot closer to Vietnamese than Chinese Mandarin to Vietnamese (even Chinese Cantonese doesn’t sound anything close to Vietnamese).
It could be really fun to ask a linguist specializing in Southeast Asian languages about this.

Ending on a positive note, I’ll be somewhere warm during the break! Hooray! No more freezing!

Happy New Year everyone!
Chúc cả nhà năm mới vui vẻ!
恭喜发财!

On Hiatus

Standard

Dear friends and readers,

I will arrive in China this weekend and stay for a year to learn the Chinese language.
I most likely will not have time to update this site during my travel.
The site will go on hiatus.
I expect to continue this site some time in the future, after I finish my study.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited the site and offered comments and suggestions.
It takes a long time to study a language and the journey is much more fun and manageable with a friend and teacher.

I hope the hiatus will not turn out to be permanent.
After all, there is still so much more to explore.

I wish everyone well in your study!

Best regards,
Anna

Vietnam Videos

Standard

Interesting video tours of Hanoi and Sai Gon produced by Intercontinental hotel.
This is pure entertainment in English so I’m not going to run my usual headache-inducing grammar commentary on it🙂


I have to admit, Hanoi and Sai Gon both look a whole lot shabbier than other cities that the InterContinental video series features.
It would be really fun to be in Vietnam, take my own photos/videos and provide my own commentary.
It’ll be more from a long term, local perspective rather than passing by tourist.

Who bought the scooter?

Standard

Please see the original by artist Nguyễn Thành Phong on his Facebook page here. This page comes from a really cool comic series called K0 còi which aims to raise traffic awareness for người Hà Nội by họa sĩ Thành Phong.🙂

xe

mẹ

mua

đua

mẹ

đánh

vehicle (car, scooter, etc.)

I (mom)

buy

race

mom

hit (punish)

So the mom told her (grown-up?) son: The scooter that I (mom) bought (xe mẹ mua), if you use dare to join a race on the street (đua), I’ll hit you (mẹ đánh).

In term of grammar, it’s a pretty good example of relative pronoun “that” (or more accurately, the lack of it). There are other points to discuss but let’s just focus on the relative pronoun “that” for today. Keep in mind that Vietnamese grammar does not correspond directly to English grammar (that’s my way of saying “if the language doesn’t make sense, it’s none of my problem”).

Cái áo

em

mới

mua

đắt

quá

Shirt

I

just

bought

expensive

too

Relative pronoun without “that”: (Cái áo) (em mới mua) (đắt quá) – the shirt I just bought is too expensive.

Cô bé

anh

gặp

hôm trước

không

chịu

cho

anh

số điện thoại

The girl

I (male)

met

the other day

not

agree to

give

me (male)

phone number

(Cô bé) (anh gặp hôm trước) (không chịu cho anh số điện thoại) – The girl that I met the other day wouldn’t give me her phone number.

Hiệu sách

không

quyển sách

()

em

muốn

mua

Bookstore

not

have

the book

(that)

I

want to

buy

Relative pronoun with “that”: “that” in Vietnamese would be equivalent to “.” “” is a Swiss army knife of Vietnamese words. It is used to mean many things. Its usage as “that”, the English relative pronoun, is one.

Hiệu sách không có (quyển sách) ( em muốn mua). – The bookstore does not have the book that I want to buy.

Cái anh diễn viên

()

em

rất

thích

đi lấy vợ

mất rồi

The actor

(that)

I

very much

like

got married

already

(Cái anh diễn viên) ( em rất thích) (đi lấy vợ mất rồi). – The actor that/whom I like very much got taken already (he got married).

And here’s the parting shot. You can figure it out yourself!

sắm” means the same thing as “mua“, and “cắm” means to pawn, “chém” means to chop, like pork chop.

PS: In terms of cultural background, this is common practice in Vietnam for the grown up child to depend on his/her parents financially and/or live with the parents well after graduating from college. For the mom to buy her grown up son a scooter is not that uncommon in Vietnam (a car is still extravagant though).

K0 còi comics series

Standard

My favorite Vietnamese artist, Nguyễn Thành Phong, just released a new comics series to raise public awareness about traffic etiquette for Hanoian. You can see the series on his Facebook page here. I think it’s awesome.

It’s been a long time since I last found exciting stuff that comes out of Hà Nội and probably a wake up call for me to start updating the blog again.

I’ve been MIA, especially with usable content for quite a while now. One reason is that I was quite occupied at work. The other is that I have been mulling over which direction I wanted the blog to follow. If I venture into Intermediate level, I wonder how many readers I will confuse. This was never intended as a primary source to learn the language, only as a reference or points to discuss with your teacher. It’s a free hobbyist blog, which I put a lot of time into. Now imagine people who complain about my blog but don’t have any good suggestion or solution.

Anyway, whichever way the wind blows. Let Intermediate level begins. If you find it too difficult, there’s always the previous lessons which are easier, or visit everydayviet.com for absolute beginner lessons.

Hà Nội

không

vội

được

đâu

In Hanoi

not

rush

possible

Hà Nội không vội được đâu. – In Hanoi, it’s not possible to rush.

If you live in a Hanoi for a full year, any year during the last 10 years, you most likely have lived through a flood which submerged part of the city. 

But first, a little memory jogging.

(1) Remember the question “Anh khỏe không?”

For “yes”, you answer ““, and for “no”, you answer “không“?

(2) Remember that “được” means it’s ok or possible or you have permission to do something (it also has other usages).

Cái này

ăn

được

không?

Được,

cứ

ăn

đi.

This

eat

possible

Yes,

go ahead

eat

Cái này có ăn được không? Is it possible to eat this thing? (Is it edible?)

Được, cứ ăn đi. – Sure, go ahead (eat).

Anh

đi chợ

hộ

em

được không?

Không được,

anh

đang

bận

lắm

You (male)

go grocery shopping

as a favor to

me

ok?

No, I cannot

I (male)

-ing

busy

very

Anh đi chợ hộ em được không? Can you go grocery shopping for me?

Không được, anh đang bận lắm. No, I cannot. I’m really busy right now.

The point that I want to highlight to day is the structure “It’s not possible to do something…”.

Hà Nội không vội được đâu. – In Hanoi, it’s not possible to rush.

which in Vietnamese is both “someone + + do something + được đâu” and “someone + không + do something + được đâu

How come “có được đâu” and “không được đâu” both mean “it’s not possible…”?

And that’s where Vietnamese grammar doesn’t match up with English’s any more. You’ll just have to learn it. No easy way out. Don’t shoot the messenger (me). In particular, pay attention to the “đâu” at the end. If “đâu” doesn’t mean “where” (“ở đâu“), then it usually signifies a negative sentence.

Here are some examples:

Hôm qua

bão

to,

máy bay

cất cánh

được đâu.

Yesterday

storm

big,

airplane

takes off

not possible

Hôm qua bão to, máy bay có cất cánh được đâu – Yesterday there was a big storm. The airplane couldn’t take off.

Ăn

nhiều

như thế

không

giảm

cân

được đâu

Eat

so much

like that

decrease

kilogram

not possible

Ăn nhiều như thế không giảm cân được đâu – (If you) eat so much like that, it’s not possible to lose weight (giảm cân).

Romeo

quên

được

Juliet

đâu

not

forget

possible

Romeo có quên được Juliet đâu – Romeo couldn’t forget Juliet

sợ

ma

quá

ngủ

được đâu

He/she

scared of

ghost

too much

sleep

not possible

Nó sợ ma quá có ngủ được đâu – He/she is so afraid of ghost that he/she wasn’t able to sleep.

PS:

(1) if you have good eyesight, you’ve probably spotted “xí nghiệp thoát nước số 4” on the yellow sign. It means “water drainage facility No. 4”

xí nghiệp

thoát

nước

số 4

facility, factory

escape

water

No. 4

(2) to be on a diet is “ăn kiêng“. Ex: em đang ăn kiêng để giảm cân (I’m on a diet in order to lose weight).

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Weather

Standard

My students requested “weather talk” after the “food talk”, so here it goes.

Trời nắng

Trời nhiều mây

Trời mưa

Trời u ám

Trời đẹp

Trời xấu

Trởi gió

Trời có tuyết rơi

Khí hậu – climate

Thời tiết – weather

Mùa xuân

Mùa hè, mùa hạ

Mùa thu

Mùa đông

(1)

Hôm nay

thời tiết

như thế nào?

Hôm nay

trời

đẹp

nắng

lắm

Today

weather

how?

sky

nice

and

sunny

(2)

Ngày mai

(trời)

mưa

không?

Tomorrow

rain

 

Ngày mai

(trời)

không

mưa

nhưng

dự báo

sẽ

tuyết

rơi

but

forecast

will

snow

fall

(3)

Hôm qua

nóng

quá

hy vọng

hôm nay

sẽ

mát

hơn

hôm qua

Yesterday

hope

cool

more

 

To talk about the weather, you can use

  1. Trời + a weather adjective / description. Do NOT use thời tiết or khí hậu

  2. The time (hôm nay, tuần trước, tháng sau, etc.) + a weather adjective / description.

Ối trời ơi! Trời ơi là trời!

Exercise: Ask and answer

The weather in America, how is it?____________________________________________

Spring’s weather in New York, how is it? ____________________________________________

Is it going to rain today? ____________________________________________

How was the weather yesterday? ____________________________________________

1. Trời đang mưa – it is raining

2. Trời sắp mưa – going to rain

3. Trời lại mưa rồi – it is raining again (complaint)

4. Trời mới mưa – it just rained