I'm following a vietnamese class for absolute beginners in Hanoi, from L'Espace, which is the french institute in the Hoan Kiem district. As I need to practice it, I thought that writing it down on this blog will help me, and it might also be nice for anyone else passing by.
The first lesson, introduced us some basics on how to address other people, this will mostly depend on the age difference between the 2 people, but it's not just about age, it's also about the rank in the family. For example a cousin who's father is the little brother of my father, I will address him differently if his father had been the elder brother. If someone is older than you, probably the age of your own parents, then it's different again. And if the person is more in the age range of a grand parent, then it's different again, and if you are not sure exactly, it's better to play it on the safe side, as you don't want to be rude :)
As I've been living with my fiancee's family in Hanoi for 2 months already, I'm a bit familiar with this, and it's still very difficult to remember all the forms, and then you need to remember their position in the family. The list given in the course is incomplete as it's probably the hardest thing for a foreigner to learn, but here is a mix from the class, and the ones I know:
|cháu||-||very young children|
|em||-||someone younger than you|
|bạn||-||someone the same age as you|
|anh||chị||someone older than you|
|chú||thím||younger brother of father (and his wife)|
|cậu||mợ||younger brother of mother (and his wife)|
|chú||cô||younger sister of father (and her husband)|
|chú||dì||younger sister of mother (and her husband)|
|bác||-||older brother and sister of father and mother|
|ông||bà||someone your grand parents age|
Next step was to say what your name is, and how to ask people their own names:
- Em tên là gì ?
|em||the way you would address someone, I will always write this in italic to indicate it will vary|
|là||to be (verb)|
- Em tên là Anthony
- còn em ?
If you want to call someone (and I mean anyone, friend, parent, taxi driver ...), you can use the following:
- Em ơi !
The next thing you will want to ask, is where is someone from:
- Em là người nước nào ?
|người||people, human, ...|
- Em là người Pháp
Then you could ask how the person is doing:
- Em (có) khoé không ?
|có ... không||how (the first word can be omitted in the question)|
- Em khoé, cám ơn
|cám ơn||thank you, this can also be written: cảm ơn|
- Không có gì
|we already have all the words for this, but it means: you're welcome|
|không||this word has several meanings: 0 (zero), no (as opposed to yes), and to express the negation|
Finally, you can ask what does someone do:
- Em làm nghề gì ?
|làm||to do (verb)|
- Em là kỹ sư
- Em không làm việc
|I don't have a job|
If you want to talk about someone else (he/she):
- Em ấy tên là gì ?
- Em ấy tên là Tom
|ấy||when you add this to the subject, it means you are talking about someone else|
That's almost it for the first lesson about introduction yourself, here are some extra words picked up during the class:
|rất tốt||very good|
|xin lỗi||excuse me|
|thế thôi||that's it (as in we are done)|
|Thứ năm nhé||see you on Thursday|
There was also a part about the 6 tones used in the vietnamese language, but I'm not sure how I'm going to put this here :)
If you want to know how to write these vietnamese letters and tones on a computer, check this other post of mine.
Thế thôi !