10 must-know words to get you street-savvy in Vietnam

By Pham Van, Kim ThuyJuly 23, 2016 | 11:42 pm PT
Want to sound like a seasoned pro? Here's all you need to know.

The accent-riddled language is enough to discourage most from making a decent attempt to learn Vietnamese, but its monosyllabic nature is the chink in its armor that gives you the chance to make your trip here more memorable. VnExpress grabs the chalk and be your street Vietnamese teacher. 

1. Thoi /toy/

Full stop to whatever the heck you are suffering.

- Fancy some 'bun dau mam tom'?

- Thooooiiii.

2. Di /dee/

“Go” in English... 

and bearing another meaning when prolonged: “Pleaaaaaaase”- that’s it.

3. Vang /ver-ng/

How Vietnamese reply to seniors when we agree with them. It means “Yes” with “respect” for elder.

You can skip the salute but you're welcome to nod instead.

4. Duoc /durk/

Approval given to everything.

5. Dzo /yo/

1, 2, 3 (Mot, high, bah), yo.

2, 3, yo.

2, 3, ‘uong’. (war-ng: drink)

The equivalent of “a-bra-ca-da-bra” shouted out loud when having “spiritual” fun in Vietnam.

6. Hay /ha-y/

Encounter a man doing a headstand on a unicycle, one hand rolling a cigarette, the other doing a zippo trick, the redundant leg in the air doing what this year’s b-boy champion does on stage. You say...

7. Chan /chance/ (without ‘ce’)

When the man above fails miserably.

8. Khiep /k-yep/

A cockroach in your first ‘pho’ and you go ‘khiep’.

9. Co /kor/

Invitation acceptance, admitting you have something, or just saying yes.

10. Khong /k-ong/

No, just no and no, no more.

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