Language

There are differences between the Vietnam- ese of the north and the Vietnamese of the south; where different forms  are  used  in this guide, they are indicated by ‘N’ for the north and ‘S’ for the south.

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TONES & PRONUNCIATION
To help you make sense of what is (for non- Vietnamese) a very tricky writing system, the words and phrases in this language guide include pronunciations that use a written form more familiar to English speak- ers. The symbols used for marking the tones are the same as those used in standard written Vietnamese.
There are six tones in spoken Vietnamese. Thus, every syllable in Vietnamese can be pronounced six different ways. For exam- ple, depending on the tones, the word ma can be read to mean ‘phantom’, ‘but’, ‘mother’, ‘rice seedling’, ‘tomb’ or ‘horse’. The six tones are represented by five dia- critical marks in the written language (the first tone is left unmarked).

  • ma (ghost) – middle of the vocal range
  • mà (which) – begins low and falls lower
  • mả (tomb) – begins low, dips and then rises to higher pitch
  • mã (horse) – begins high, dips slightly, then rises sharply
  • mạ (rice seedling) – begins low, falls to a lower level, thenstops
  • má (mother) – begins high and rises sharply.

vietnamese-language_travel-to-indochina

SYMBOL & PRONOUNCIATION

  • đ    đ    (with crossbar) as in ‘do’
  • d    z/y    (without crossbar) as the ‘z’ in ‘zoo’ (N); as
  • the ‘y’ in ‘yes’ (S)
  • gi-    z/y    as a ‘z’ (N); as a ‘y’ (S)
  • kh-    ch    as the ‘ch’ in German buch
  • ng-   ng    as the ‘-nga-’ sound in ‘long ago’
  • nh-    ny    as the ‘ny’ in ‘canyon’
  • ph-    f    as in ‘farm’
  • z/r    as ‘z’ (N); as ‘r’ (S)
  • s/sh as ‘s’ (N); as ‘sh’ (S)
  • tr-    ch/tr as ‘ch’ (N); as ‘tr’ (S) th-    t    a strongly aspirated ‘t’ x    s    like an ‘s’
  • -ch    k    like a ‘k’
  • -ng   ng    as the ‘ng’ in ‘long’ but with the lips closed; sounds

ACCOMMODATION

  • I’d like (a) … Tôi muốn …
  • single room: phòng đơn
  • double-bed:giường đôi
  • room with two beds: phòng gồm hai giường ngủ
  • how much is it?: Giá bao nhiêu?
  • Per night: một đêm
  • Per person: một người

CONVERSATION & ESSENTIALS

  • There are many different forms of address in Vietnamese. The safest way to address people is: ông (to a man of any status), anh (to a young man), bà (to a middle-aged or older woman), cô (to a young woman) and em (to a child).
  • Hello: xin chào
  • Goodbye: tạm biệt
  • Please: làm ơn
  • Thank you: cám ơn
  • Excuse me: xin lỗi
  • Yes: vâng (dạ)
  • No: không
  • How are you? : bạn có khỏe không?
  • Fine, thank you: khỏe, cám ơn
  • Do you speak English? : bạn có nói được tiếng Anh không?
  • I (don’t) understand: tôi (không) hiểu

NUMBERS

  • 1  một
  • 2  hai
  • 3  ba
  • 4  bốn
  • 5  năm
  • 6  sáu
  • 7  bảy
  • 8  tám
  • 9  chín
  • 10  mười
  • 11  mười một
  • 19  mười chín
  • 20  hai mươi
  • 21  hai mốt
  • 22  hai mươi hai
  • 30  ba mươi
  • 90  chín mươi
  • 100  một trăm
  • 200  hai trăm
  • 900  chín trăm
  • 1000  một nghìn (N) / một ngàn (S)
  • 10.000  mười nghìn (N) / mười ngàn (S)

SHOPPING & SERVICES

  • I’m looking for … : tôi tìm
  • A bank : ngân hàng
  • The hospital : nhà thương
  • A public phone : phòng điện thoại
  • Tourist office : văn phòng hướng dẫn du lịch
  • How much is it? : cái này giá bao nhiêu?
  • It’s too expensive : cái này quá mắc

TIME & DAYS

  • It’s…. o’clock : bây giờ là… giờ
  • What’s time is it? : mấy giờ rồi?
  • Now : bây giờ
  • Today : hôm nay
  • Tomorrow : ngày mai
  • Monday : thứ hai
  • Tuesday : thứ ba
  • Wednesday : thứ tư
  • Thursday : thứ năm
  • Friday: thứ sáu
  • Satuday : thứ bảy
  • Sunday : chủ nhật

TRANSPORT

  • What time does the (first)… leave/ arrive? : chuyến….(sớm nhất) chạy lúc mấy giờ?
  • Boat : tàu (thuyền)
  • Bus : xe buýt
  • Plane : máy bay
  • Train : xe lửa

DIRECTIONS

  • Where is….?: ở đâu?
  • I want to go to : tôi muốn đi…
  • Go straight ahead : đi thẳng
  • Can you show me (on the map)? : xin chỉ giùm (trên bản đồ này)?
  • Turn left: sang trái
  • Turn right: sang phải
  • At the corner : ở góc đường
  • At the traffic lights : tại đèn giao thông
  • Far : xa
  • Near (to) : gần

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