A Blog to help all those moving to hectic Hanoi, wanting to learn about the culture in Vietnam or simply interested in the opinions of an adventurous expatriate teenager!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The difference between sửa chữa and sữa chua

The book I have just picked up entitled 'Vietnamese for Beginners' (Gioung) tells me that I first need to start off learning the alphabet. Well that sounds simple enough. In fact the learning of the alphabet may take me 6 months, maybe even the rest of the time I have here since I cannot devote my full time to learning it. When asking a friend who has lived in Vietnam her whole life the exact number of letters she said "well it's hard to know, ask the internet". ASK THE INTERNET! This seems crazy but on further research  even Google (yes I know Google is not a person, but it's nice to think that there is one system with all the answers I will ever need) cannot give a definitive answer. There are 29 letters and then letters with dots and squiggles and little hats. I think I gave up after that.

(taken by me)

When asking for milk it's "sữa" and yoghurt is "sữa chua". Well that seems quite logical doesn't it. Well sửa chữa means repair shop, I bet your thinking "Woah that's weird the same word for yoghurt and repair shop" but no it's like this for all of the words. Since most are very short there are multiple meanings depending on the tone, there is a lot of confusion in my daily life because of tones.

I would recommend being able to recognize but not speak. Especially since everyone wants to practice their English skills on you anyway; why waste that opportunity for them?

If you add accents to the word "ma" you get the following words (Gioung): Ghost, cheek, but, rice seedling, tomb and horse. A random selection of words with not much in common really. Imagine going up to someone and trying to say "What a beautiful horse you have" It could end up as "what a beautiful ghost/rice seedling/cheek or tomb" and still make sense (except the other person would think you were really weird).

The most useful words I recommend learning are:

Directions  for taxis-

(taken by me)

Left-  rẽ trái
Right- rẽ phải
Straight- đi thẳng
Stop -dừng lại

Food- check out my "Fallback food places post"

 (taken by me)
How much money (does it cost)? - bao nhiêu tiền
Too expensive - Đắt quá
Supermarket - siêu th
Market - chợ

Numbers -

(taken by me)
Seven- bảy
Ten- mười

After this you put 10 then 1 for 11. 2, 10 and 1 for 21 and so on.
Thousand- ngàn
Hundred- trăm
Million- triệu

(taken by me)

Greetings and being polite-
Hello- xin chào - Actually a lot of Vietnamese people simply say "allo" whilst speaking on the phone.
Bye - chào
Thank you- cảm ơn

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