Vietnamese Dialectal Vocabulary

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Vietnamese Dialectal Vocabulary

Postby Imbecilica » 2009-03-13, 15:01

Greetings all! Something I've always been interested in is the variation of words used in the different regions of Vietnam. As a native Southern speaker, sometimes I encounter "mysterious" words or so I believe until I realise they are merely the northern counterparts of co-existing words in the south. I'm just wondering if anyone can produce or point me in the direction of a list which lists varied words by region? I think the central dialect is mysterious and especially cute when a female speaks it but can I honestly understand a fraction of what they say? Haha, I get lost when they toss in mysterious words.

[Split from Translation requests]
I'm not sure if you know this word Draven but apparently there is a word nhửng with dấu hỏi which means something like the state of the water between high and low tide. Or is it a rural word used mainly in the Mekong area?
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-03-14, 6:08

Imbecilica wrote:apparently there is a word nhửng with dấu hỏi which means something like the state of the water between high and low tide. Or is it a rural word used mainly in the Mekong area?

*shrug* No, I don't know that :| The state of the water during high tide is nước lớn and its low tide counterpart is nước ròng - that's as far as I know. Between... no clue. If I ever see nhửng I'd assume it's a Southern misspelling of những.
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby Imbecilica » 2009-03-14, 7:39

I might investigate this mysterious word, for all I know it may not exist at all - but I'm sticking to my senses and believe it is real though I have noticed many people misspelling những with nhửng (not you or me though :D )
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-03-15, 17:32

[Split from Translation request]

abcdefg wrote:Yeah I didn't know the word. Help please?

Lisp is a speech impediment occurring in isolated individuals. The change from /l/ to nasals spread across a large population so I think it's safe to be called a consonantal shift. Just my two cents.

abcdefg wrote:I heard Southerners used lỡ sometimes. Or is it brought there by Northerners? Wait... can it be any possibility that [l] to [ɲ] has been retained by some early Northerners there?

I'd say lỡ is a word in the common stock, because there is no "Southern" alternative to it and it's not perceived as Northern in anyway. Anyhow, there was no documented large migration of people from Tonkin to Saigon until 1954 when the communists took Tonkin wholly from the French forcing Northern Catholics to make a run for it. They brought with them the Northern language and of course Catholicism, which previously had only a marginal presence in Saigon.
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby ILuvEire » 2009-03-15, 21:43

Draven wrote:
abcdefg wrote:It appears to me more like a lisp than a phonetic shift.

Uhm... "Lisp" refers to the phenomenon in which sibilant consonants are consistently turned into interdental ones, which is not applicable to Vietnamese.

Vietnamese with a lisp would sound cool.
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby abcdefg » 2009-03-16, 4:13

I thought a shift was a complete change, where the older was totally displaced?

Draven wrote:
abcdefg wrote:I heard Southerners used lỡ sometimes. Or is it brought there by Northerners?

I'd say lỡ is a word in the common stock, because there is no "Southern" alternative to it and it's not perceived as Northern in anyway.

I guess my mind was badly split at that time - I wanted to mention nhỡ instead. Like would you say "công việc nhỡ nhàng" or "công việc lỡ làng" ?

Draven wrote:Anyhow, there was no documented large migration of people from Tonkin to Saigon until 1954 when the communists took Tonkin wholly from the French forcing Northern Catholics to make a run for it.

It's the 17th-century 'expanders' I wanted to say. The spoken language at that time doesn't differ much with what it is now and there was not yet a Southern part to have its own creations.
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-03-16, 4:56

abcdefg wrote:I thought a shift was a complete change, where the older was totally displaced?

Sure. In Northern regions affected by the shift people are now incapable of pronouncing [l] even if the letter L is written down right in front of their eyes. [l] is completely replaced by [n] or [ɲ]. There is also the amazing northern phenomenon that people are perfectly familiar with both [l] and [n], but the two consonants switch places - when they see L they say [n], yet when they see N they say [l]. "Nực nượng lòng cốt" :roll: .

abcdefg wrote:Like would you say "công việc nhỡ nhàng" or "công việc lỡ làng" ?

To southerners [l], [n] and [ɲ] stay right where they are. There's no mixing up or alteration. So it's lỡ, never nhỡ. Anyway, what we'd say is dở dang, not lỡ làng. We only have lỡ, which is equivalent to trót in the north I think.

abcdefg wrote:The spoken language at that time doesn't differ much with what it is now and there was not yet a Southern part to have its own creations.

That's a pretty bold statement isn't it? When Saigon was founded the two kingdoms had been separated for almost 200 years with limited cultural exchange. And how can you be certain that the split started with the Đàng Trong - Đàng Ngòai schism? It could have started even prior to that you know (with Huế and Quảng Nam already contrasting with Hanoi).
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Re: Dialectal vocabulary

Postby Imbecilica » 2009-03-16, 12:01

NORTH > SOUTH - ENGLISH

bên trong > bên trong / trỏng - inside
bên ngoài > bên ngoài / ngoải - outside
bên kia > bên đó / bển - over there
ông ấy > ổng - he (old man)
bà ấy > bả - she (old lady)
anh ấy > ảnh - he
chị ấy > chỉ - she
cô ấy > cổ - she

Are the words trỏng, ngoải, ổng v.v. native to Southerners only? Also, is there an equivalent to cô ấy? Since I don't know, it seems strange as most of the others are paired up. Do you know any more examples?
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby abcdefg » 2009-03-16, 13:14

Draven wrote:[l] is completely replaced by [n] and [ɲ]

Can you give me examples of dialects replacing [l] by [ɲ] ? Somehow I think it's the other way around and too old-fashioned to be notable.

Draven wrote:
abcdefg wrote:I thought a shift was a complete change, where the older was totally displaced?

Sure. In Northern regions affected by the shift people are now incapable of pronouncing [l] even if the letter L is written down right in front of their eyes. [..]There is also the amazing northern phenomenon that people are perfectly familiar with both [l] and [n], but the two consonants switch places - when they see L they say [n], yet when they see N they say [l]. "Nực nượng lòng cốt" :roll: .

It's... not much like a shift. The former was limited in some Eastern North provinces only, and they are all next to each other. It could be the unfamiliarity of [l] led by the inability to produce it of their ancestors. They lived in a totally non-[l] environment and could have perceived the sound as a strange, imported thing. Even when they didn't, their incentives to change were not strong enough as they would hardly ever leave the village and everyone around spoke just like them.

The latter I have no idea... I've never met a whole village switching [l] for [n].

But calling it a shift means you have a presumption that they did pronounce [l] before. I find it hard to understand why they omitted [l] and all of a sudden switched it for an already existed sound. Just... lost :|

Draven wrote:
abcdefg wrote:Like would you say "công việc nhỡ nhàng" or "công việc lỡ làng" ?

To southerners [l], [n] and [ɲ] stay right where they are. There's no mixing up or alteration. So it's lỡ, never nhỡ. Anyway, what we'd say is dở dang, not lỡ làng. We only have lỡ, which is equivalent to trót in the north I think.


No... dở dang means you've left something half-done, while lỡ làng means you've missed the chance/opportunity to do something. Like cuộc đời dở dang vs. cuộc đời lỡ làng. One means you're dead, one means you're about 50 yrs old and don't have anything.

I asked because I notice some difference in meaning between nhỡ nhàng and lỡ làng. Lỡ làng has something to do with being late in marriage.

Draven wrote:
abcdefg wrote:The spoken language at that time doesn't differ much with what it is now and there was not yet a Southern part to have its own creations.

That's a pretty bold statement isn't it? When Saigon was founded the two kingdoms had been separated for almost 200 years with limited cultural exchange. And how can you be certain that the split started with the Đàng Trong - Đàng Ngòai schism? It could have started even prior to that you know (with Huế and Quảng Nam already contrasting with Hanoi).

The nh thing is very old-dated here yet being kept intact down there. I just say that maybe the first Northerners went down South expanding lands brought with them their old ways of pronunciation. Due to limited exchange, there were more chances that these old ways were kept safe against the innovations up North. For example, differences in pronouncing r.

Unless provided with documents, it's impossible to know where a word originated. It could be an own creation or cultural retained. Either way, I don't think it's a matter of regional pride.

Imbecilica wrote:Also, is there an equivalent to cô ấy? Since I don't know, it seems strange as most of the others are paired up.

Chú ấy. But it's also well paired with anh ấy.
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-03-16, 14:11

abcdefg wrote:
Draven wrote:[l] is completely replaced by [n] and [ɲ]

Can you give me examples of dialects replacing [l] by [ɲ] ? Somehow I think it's the other way around and too old-fashioned to be notable.

The way I see it, the [l] to [ɲ] shift is only a subset of the bigger [l] to [n] shift, which is very widespread in Tonkin. "Authentic" Hanoi people has always prided themselves over their intact [l], as opposed to folks from the surrounding privnces who substitute [n] for [l]. Don't tell me that's not true.

abcdefg wrote:But calling it a shift means you have a presumption that they did pronounce [l] before. I find it hard to understand why they omitted [l] and all of a sudden switched it for an already existed sound. Just... lost :|

You mean it is not possible for a language to lose a phoneme in its phonetic inventory? It's not only possible but it also happens a lot. All continental Germanic languages once had [θ] and [ð] but then all lost them. Taking their places were [t] and [d], two already existing sounds. Nowadays only the insular languages, namely English and Icelandic, retain the fricatives.

Northern Vietnamese apparently lost [r] in that same fashion and in some regions it has lost [l] too.

abcdefg wrote:I asked because I notice some difference in meaning between nhỡ nhàng and lỡ làng. Lỡ làng has something to do with being late in marriage.

You never see a Southerner say or write something like nhỡ nhàng. That nh-version is simply not here.

abcdefg wrote:The nh thing is very old-dated here yet being kept intact down there.

What nh thing? Our [l] is always [l]. It doesn't deviate from the standard language in anyway.

abcdefg wrote:I just say that maybe the first Northerners went down South expanding lands brought with them their old ways of pronunciation. Due to limited exchange, there were more chances that these old ways were kept safe against the innovations up North.

That's the whole concept of language evolution and divergence. When a language splits into two discernible branches each will be archaic in some aspects and innovative in others. I don't know what picture you're trying to paint but it's pretty obvious to me that the word lỡ is a basic, ancient word that has been retained by both branches and is not a post-schism invention of the north. In the south it's kept intact while in the north it was regionally affected by a shift from [l] to [ɲ] at some point and became nhỡ. Just like how the word "butter" is present in both British and American English but with two distinct pronunciations.
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Re: Tranlation requests

Postby abcdefg » 2009-03-16, 15:26

Draven wrote:The way I see it, the [l] to [ɲ] shift is only a subset of the bigger [l] to [n] shift

Native Hanoians did maintain both [l] and [ɲ].

Draven wrote:You never see a Southerner say or write something like nhỡ nhàng. That nh-version is simply not here.

Draven wrote:Our [l] is always [l]. It doesn't deviate from the standard language in anyway.

Sorry for my last post... I misread lỡ and nhỡ again. I thought you said Southerners only had nhỡ.
Draven wrote:I don't know what picture you're trying to paint but it's pretty obvious to me that the word lỡ is a basic, ancient word that has been retained by both branches and is not a post-schism invention of the north.

Oh I didn't say that it was. My attention was put on nhỡ instead, but since I misread your post I think I should stop here.
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