Apr 05, 2018
The Vietnamese, unlike what people would assume of, love laughing.
More weird: one of the things they enjoy most is to laugh when foreigners speak Vietnamese.
If you are an international student studying in England, you would probably get lots of flying compliments for your English from British people who tend to be polite to encourage you. Vietnamese people, the exact opposite of the British, would laugh so hard at your pronunciation!
Oh dear. We laugh all the time, don't we?
Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt) has six tones. For example: Bao, Bảo, Báo, Bào, Bão, Bạo are 6 different words. (yes, they are. But my European friends keep saying that they sounds exactly the same!). If you pronounce one tone wrongly, it could lead to a misunderstanding of another completely different meaning word. Instead of saying: "I want to buy a newspaper" (Báo), you can make people laugh because you are saying: "I want to buy a storm (Bão)".
When we are really sorry for making you feel embarrassed, we want you to know that: our laughs have nothing to do with mocking or humiliating. It is simply because that not many Vietnamese have opportunities to interact with foreigners, let alone hear them speaking our mother language. We are just so curious and get amazed of your voice.
However, you can always take advantage of our curiosity: impress us! Here is the trick: try to learn some popular Vietnamese greeting phrases. When talking to a local, simply pronounce these phrases fluently. I'm pretty much sure that the Vietnamese will a look of surprise on their face.
Bonus: If your Vietnamese friends still laugh at you so hard, simply smile back and say: "Cười cái gì?" (Smile for what?). They will explain to you in a very warm and friendly way.
Photo: Credit to Le Viet
Author: Bao Ngoc