Vietnamese | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

Phuc Bui

An American college professor asked Vietnamese-American student Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen to change her name:

Could you Anglicize your name. Phuc Bui sounds like an insult in English.

Understandably, she did not think this was a good idea and so in a subsequent e-mail he would go so far as to explain:

Your name in English sounds like Fuck Boy. If I lived in Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a Dick, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who have to say it.

Phuc Bui’s sister Quynh shared the exchange on Instagram from where it was picked up across the globe.

Now Vietnamese names can be tricky. But suggesting a student to change her name…

As for the professor: Should he ever visit Vietnam, he might want to check out Phuc Long Coffee & Tea 😄.

Tones and Humidity  

The Max Planck Society:

Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions. This is explained by the fact that the vocal folds require a humid environment to produce the right tone.

I’m from a very non-humid climate. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s so hard for me to learn Vietnamese…

Colors  

Stephen Anderson and Karl Fast in Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding:

All cultures start with the ability to distinguish dark things from light things. This is followed by the recognition of red. After that, it might be the addition of yellow or green. And blue always seems to come last. Not every language follows the exact same path, but they adhere to this same general pattern.

One of the many odd things of the Vietnamese language is that both “blue” and “green” are “màu xanh”. In case you need to differentiate between the two you would add something like “of the sky” (màu xanh da trời) or “of the tree” (màu xanh lá cây).

I had one Vietnamese teacher that would mark the traffic light with “blue light” and the Korean presidential offices with “green house”.