Vietnamese language and translation

Hi all,
I'm an American expat who has lived in Vietnam for 10 years, currently in Nha Trang. I started learning Vietnamese when I first arrived and now I work as a full-time freelance translator and editor. It was a long, winding road but I'm finally able to make a living from it. Learning and translating Vietnamese is my job and also my passion, but I rarely get the chance to discuss the Vietnamese language with other foreigners. So, if you are a fellow foreigner interested in learning Vietnamese, are learning Vietnamese, can speak Vietnamese and/or use it for work, etc. I'd love to talk with you and answer questions or discuss the language, whether in terms of linguistics or the many confusing ways it's used in everyday life.
Cheers!

Zac Herm :

Hi all,
I'm an American expat who has lived in Vietnam for 10 years, currently in Nha Trang. I started learning Vietnamese when I first arrived and now I work as a full-time freelance translator and editor. It was a long, winding road but I'm finally able to make a living from it. Learning and translating Vietnamese is my job and also my passion, but I rarely get the chance to discuss the Vietnamese language with other foreigners. So, if you are a fellow foreigner interested in learning Vietnamese, are learning Vietnamese, can speak Vietnamese and/or use it for work, etc. I'd love to talk with you and answer questions or discuss the language, whether in terms of linguistics or the many confusing ways it's used in everyday life.
Cheers!

Are you selling something here????

Not selling, just reaching out to other expats with common interest in language

Hi I would love to pick up tieng Viet too

Zac Herm :

Not selling, just reaching out to other expats with common interest in language

Right...

xin chào Zak
I would be interested in learning more about the ways of the Vietnamese language. My husband and I have recently moved to Tam Thanh, in Quang Nam. Living her with very limited to no English spoken  I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

truemanfamily :

xin chào Zak
I would be interested in learning more about the ways of the Vietnamese language. My husband and I have recently moved to Tam Thanh, in Quang Nam. Living her with very limited to no English spoken  I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

Try telling them that you are going to speak in Vietnamese.
Tôi sẽ nói tiếng việt

Many of them are too lazy to even try to listen.

truemanfamily :

xin chào Zak
I would be interested in learning more about the ways of the Vietnamese language. My husband and I have recently moved to Tam Thanh, in Quang Nam. Living her with very limited to no English spoken  I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

Sandy,

Here is an established thread where members of the forum are discussing that subject in public:

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=337111

Curious to know if the OP contacts you through private messaging with suggestions...

As difficult as it was to learn Vietnamese it is even more difficult to learn Vietnamese English. My wife can say her version of English words that are so difficult to understand that it is easier to communicate with her in Vietnamese. The last syllable of most English words is summarily dropped. If the English word ends in an "s" it's just too bad - it is not needed. For instance, the word "gas" automatically becomes "gah". If the word has too many syllables then she makes up an economical version with fewer syllables. The word refrigerator becomes "re-frig-a-dor". Occasionally two English words become entangled. At a seafood restaurant, she was trying to say alligator but it was coming out as some other-worldly sound. It turns out she was mixing the words crocodile and alligator into a mess I couldn't ever hope to understand. Finally, I had to ask her to say it in Vietnamese and I understood "cá sấu". I taught my adopted daughter to speak English, so I had experience with Vietnamese English already. But Angie came with a 30-year mastery of practiced mutilation. So the bottom line is it's much easier to use Vietnamese which I need anyway.

truemanfamily:  If I were a betting person, I would put my money on geography as the main reason for the failure in communication between you and the locals.  Your difficulty in trying to speak Vietnamese is only the secondary factor in your case.

Together with Nghệ An, the natives and long time residents of Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi have the harshest intonation, the most difficult voice to understand, the most erroneous pronunciation, and the most bizarre vocabulary in the country. 

It has been a very long understanding that there are 4 accents in Vietnam:  Northern accent, Central accent, Southern accent, and Quảng accent  (tiếng Bắc, tiếng Nam, tiếng Trung, tiếng Quảng.)

A Northerner who lives in the South doesn't have any problem understanding his neighbours and vice versa.  A person from Huế doesn't have any problem understand either the Northerner or the Southerner, although the latter two would have to pay attention and ask the person from Huế to repeat himself now and then.  However, the conversation would come to a stop when a person from Quảng Nam or Quảng Ngãi joins in, because no one outside of those provinces would understand a word he says.

The people in the two Quảng provinces do not just have a particular accent, they have a particular voice (giọng Quảng), even a particular language.  The identity of Quảng's voice lies in the sentence structure in which a large part is reduced to the absolute minimum before being replaced with w word or two from the dialect.  The whole sentence is implicitly understood with those few words and the intonation.

truemanfamily :

the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south.

If you learned them in the South, there's a very good chance that they're not the same words in tiếng Quảng or they're not pronounced the way the Southerners do.

Don't take it to heart.  I was born in the North, grew up in the South, had many friends from the Central, and never had any problem conversing with anyone in any part of the country.  Except for the 3 years when our family had a lived-in domestic from Quảng Nam.   After the first question that ended in a very dissatisfied response (dissatisfied for us, not for him -- he knew what he said, we didn't), neither my sister nor I had a conversation with him for 3 years.  Only my mother did, but it took her almost a week to explain to him that because he's a minor, he needed to retrieve his birth certificate from home so she could add his name to our family book. 

To this day, with people frequently move from one region to another for work or marriage, giọng Quảng is still a major obstacle for both Northerners and Southerners, and articles are still being published on newspapers and magazines regarding that issue.

truemanfamily :

xin chào Zak
I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

Unfortunately that is hard to tell, sometimes they just don’t want to understand you, and it’s not clear why. I’ve traveled around quite a bit with a friend who’s fluent in Vietnamese, and there were still times when we got the silent treatment.

OceanBeach92107 :
truemanfamily :

xin chào Zak
I would be interested in learning more about the ways of the Vietnamese language. My husband and I have recently moved to Tam Thanh, in Quang Nam. Living her with very limited to no English spoken  I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

Sandy,

Here is an established thread where members of the forum are discussing that subject in public:

https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=337111
....

Another related but shorter thread (from the same OP):
https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.p … 18#4239188

the one I've quoted seems to have been created while the other one was still ongoing.

OceanBeach92107 :
truemanfamily :

xin chào Zak
I would be interested in learning more about the ways of the Vietnamese language. My husband and I have recently moved to Tam Thanh, in Quang Nam. Living her with very limited to no English spoken  I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

Sandy,
..................
Curious to know if the OP contacts you through private messaging with suggestions...

Can guestposter's contact us through Private messaging?...I certainly can't seem to be able to contact him/her.  :unsure

sanooku :
OceanBeach92107 :
truemanfamily :

xin chào Zak
I would be interested in learning more about the ways of the Vietnamese language. My husband and I have recently moved to Tam Thanh, in Quang Nam. Living her with very limited to no English spoken  I feel more than ever the need to learn the language but continue to struggle with pronunciation and tones. Ugh!!!! I often find that the locals don't acknowledge or respond when I attempt to use the basic words or phrases I learned in the south. Perhaps they are not use to hearing foreigners bad Vietnamese or simply cannot understand me.
I'd welcome your sharing of tips as to how and where you learned the language and any advise.

warmly, sandy

Sandy,
..................
Curious to know if the OP contacts you through private messaging with suggestions...

Can guestposter's contact us through Private messaging?...I certainly can't seem to be able to contact him/her.  :unsure

No.

Once their account has been changed to "guest poster" status, it's not possible to send them messages.

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