Communicating with Vietnamese

Vietnam is quite naturally the country’s official language. There are other languages and dialects as well. Some older people still speak some French, a legacy of French colonial rule which finished in the middle of the 20th Century. A smaller number have some English which is now being seen as a useful language to teach in schools. With the number of overseas visitors taking a Vietnam family tour and 10 million foreigners visiting in 2016, there are solid economic reasons for more people, especially those in tourist-related activities, to learn English.

travel in vietnam

Vietnamese is tonal’ every word has a single syllable and the alphabet is Roman. The difficulty of the language is that the same word can mean several different things depending on the tome used by the speaker; there are 6 different tones. They may be high or low, faltering or falling. To give you an example the word ‘’ma’’ can mean several different things including:

•    Mother in a high, but falling tone.
•    Ghost in a high, flat tome.
•    Grave with a low but rising tone.

When a word is written, the tone to be used indicated by accents, or absence of accents below or above the vowel.

Vietnam tour packages offer a chance to meet people in natural situations. The Vietnamese are a naturally modest and humble people and that comes across in their speech. They don’t boast and seek harmony in their lives so often a subject is not discussed if it may result in a problem emerging. In general, the people speak in a low tone and although bargaining on price is a way of life, that bartering will always be done politely and without aggression. If you are in a market during yourtravel inVietnam, walk away if you are not happy with a price rather than cause confrontation.

City life is somewhat different from that in the villages which will be apparent fairly quickly during Vietnam travel packages. In villages, direct eye contact isregarded as impolite.

One of the problems of communication is that locals are reluctant to say ‘’no.’’ It means that a ‘’yes’’ may not have the same meaning as you might imagine; it will be a qualified answer perhaps the real meaning being ‘’I’m listening’’ or I’m thinking’’. A smile can be confusing as well; emotions are really reserved for the family although it is usually easy to see if a Vietnamese person finds something funny.

The greeting is joining hands and bowing slightly, though in cities things have changed in many ways; shaking hands is now fairly common. Men may hold hands as a sign of friendship, nothing more and hugging is strictly something for relatives.

As a rule, Vietnam is a country full of happy, smiling people. It may be what you have just read makes you feel that they are private people difficult to fathom out. You will not be able to access anyone’s inner thoughts but you will see from the reception you receive that everything is fine.

Read more: Vietnam lifestyle