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!