Vietnamese phone etiquette


(Viet comics is read the same way as English comics: left to right, top to bottom)

Today we have a fairly simple telephone lesson.
It starts with the girl picking up the phone and saying a lô. A lô is how Viet people answer the phone, a response copied from the French.

The girl then asks: “Ai thế ạ?” who’s that? Use this to ask who is talking on the phone with you, or who’s calling at your door
ai – who
thế there
polite word

In Vietnamese, the equivalent of “how do you do?” or “what’s up?” is (you) có khỏe không? Literally, do you have health?
Khoẻ is to be healthy.
In this, the boy inquires about the health of various family members, which is a common way to start a conversation in Vietnamese. Let’s take a look.

Boy: “A lô, em khỏe chứ?” alo, are you doing well?
Girl: “dạ, em khỏe. Cám ơn anh” yes, I’m well. Thank you.
Boy: “thế còn bố mẹ em?” how about your parents?
Girl: “dạ, bố mẹ em cũng khỏe ạ” yes, my parents are also doing well (bố dad, mẹ mom, cũng also)
Boy: “còn con Milu nhà em?” how about your family’s dog, Milu?
Girl: “dạ, nó cũng khỏe lắm ạ.” yes, he’s also very well.

Note that the girl’s answers here all begin with dạ. It is a polite word, used to indicate that you’ve heard the other person.
If your parents or an older person tell you to do something, you also say dạ if you agree to do it.
Also useful if you’re talking to your (potential) parents-in-law 🙂

Boy: “hôm nay em có định đi đâu chơi không?” today do you want to go hang out somewhere?
Girl: “dạ, tí em định đi chơi” yes, in a little bit I plan to go out
Định is to intend, to plan (to do something)

Boy: em đã có kế hoạch nghỉ hè chưa?
Girl: dạ. Chắc em ở nhà học hè thôi

Here’s for the kicker.

Boy: Ừ… Này em ơi… uhm… Hey..
Girl: dạ. Sao anh? yes, what?
Boy: Anh gọi nhầm số. Anh không (có) em đâu

gọi is gọi điện thoại (to make a phone call)
nhầm is to mistake
số is short for số điện thoại (phone number).
quen to know someone

Use không (có) + verb/person + đâu when you want to say that you don’t know someone or something.
For example:
Em không ăn đùi ếch đâu! I don’t (want to) eat frog’s thigh
Anh sẽ không quên em đâu! I won’t forget you!
(child to parent) Con không đi ngủ đâu! I don’t (want to) go to sleep!

Who would have thought that simple comics would take a long time to explain. I certainly didn’t know better 🙂

That’s it for the week. Have fun & hẹn gặp lại tuần sau!


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