Vietnamese is a beautiful language.
In all languages, some words and phrases become favorites for various reasons. Some are favorites because people love the sound of them, or they evoke an emotional state that lingers. We asked Facebook’s Expats In Ho Chi Minh City group what their current favorite words and phrases are. We compiled them into a list, so that our friends entering Vietnam for the first time on business can have an easier time. Below is the list, for your viewing and intellectual pleasure.
“Cả nhà” – Meaning “My People,” from Louie Nguyen.
“O” – Meaning umbrella, from Joseph Kerr. Its a simple phrase that gets to the point, and even looks like an umbrella over a person.
“Tết mà” – Meaning “But it’s Lunar New Year!” From Paolo Euvrard. Perfect reason to do whatever you want during Tet celebration.
Cơm, gạo, lúa. These show how rice is a distinguished part in the culture. From Ha Tran.
“Bị Tào Tháo” – Tào Tháo is the Vietnamese name for the Chinese warlord Cao Cao. Bị Tào Tháo means “on the run from Cao Cao,” or “having the runs” as in diarrhea. From John Johnson.
“Chúc mừng năm mới” – Meaning “Happy New Year,” from Florina Neamtiu. It’s always wonderful clapping your hands together and making a small bow.
“Như con c..” – The most snide and condescending remark in the Vietnamese language. From Erich Dang.
“Xạo quá đi.” Because it’s sound has a nice flow to it and it’s used frequently (even by myself). From Troy Saunders.
“‘Cần Lời Giải Thích” – The literary translation is “In need of an explanation”. But it is a play on word for ‘Cái Lồn Gì Thế’, which literally means ‘what the F’. From Anh Pham. This is a necessity in every language.
“Tào lao” – Meaning “nonsense,” from Florent Poilane. Also a keystone in every language.
“Thương”. In Vietnamese, there is a distinguish b/w “thương” and “yêu” though in English, maybe you can just translate both mean “love”. It’s very hard to explain, maybe I can put it this way: “yêu” indicates the love that still somewhat with strong pasionate and maybe selfish, yet “thương” indicates the love that is unconditional, simple and understanding. From Truc Dang.
‘Chán cơm thèm phở’ – When you get bored of the dull old rice you’ve got at home and start craving some hot phở. From Chris Lawrence.
“Nước đến chân mới chạy”- You only start running when the (flood) water arrives. From Robert Cotgrove.
“Còn mơ đi cưng” – dream on sweetie. From Marc Nguyen.
There you have it. If your favorite Vietnamese words and phrases are not included here, feel free to send us a message or leave a comment reminding us of what they are.