Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Learning Vietnamese

I've started learning Vietnamese in preparation for my trip. I've decided I will not pull a Jeannette, and so will arrive with at least enough knowledge of the language that I will be able to ask someone if they understand English (sorry Jeannette!).

Or announce to everyone that I am American! Even though I am not American.

There is no doubt that the series of CDs I bought, Pimsleurs Conversational Vietnamese, is American. This is how a typical lesson goes (note these are phonetic spellings, because there is no guidebook that shows me how these words are actually written):

Man's voice: Imagine you are an older American man, and you walk into a café and notice a young woman from your hotel. Say hello to her.

Me: Chao Chi-i

Vietnamese Woman: Chao Aum
Man's voice: Ask her how she is doing.

Me: Chi co kray-ay krom?

Vietnamese Woman: Doi kway-ay làm, cam unh ang.

Man's Voice: Ask her if she understands English

Me: Chi co héa-ho din Ang krom?

Vietnamese Woman: Krom

Man's Voice: Tell her you are American

Me: What?! How is this normal?!

In about every lesson, the man makes me say this! It's quite funny (and typically American) that before i learn how to say 'Sorry', or ask someone what their name is, that i know how to say that i am American, and even know how someone would ask me if i'm American.

And why an older American man picking up some young girl in a café?

I'm still waiting for the man to teach me how to say that I am Canadian. Or Australian. Or British. Or how about how to order a bowl of pho?


Jeannette said...

Ok, maybe I didnt know anything about Japanese before I got here, but now I can say, "I'd like to go watch you masturbate in the post office after work." That's progress.

No doubt they'll know you're not Vietnamese. Just keep your maple leaf pin handy. I can say maple leaf in Japanese too (momiji :P).

Good luck! It wont stick at all!!

Jeannette said...

By the way, nice new setup here. The fund raising bar is a bit hard to read.

So, plan to be talkin to a lot of young ladies, eh?

This reminds me of those learn French CDs I had. They were impossible, nothing like the real thing to get you to learn a language (no, im not gunna study French...).

Rebel said...

YES YES YES! It's Pimsleur... exactly!!!

I spent (wasted) a lot of time listening to that CD... what would have been useful: go to a Vietnamese restaurant, tell them you're moving to Vietnam and ask them how to say "Hello" "I want to eat that." "How much?" and "Thank you." And maybe have them write it down for you. I am not joking about this!