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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Vietnam Diaries #7: Crazy language; and the pineapple-coconut tale!

I was recently in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. I met a few Vietnamese people there and together we went to a cafe shop by the Lake Turtle. 

Trying to order for my own, I asked for some dừa tươi. But they didn't understand me. "Something wrong again with my tone, they never get me", I thought in my mind only to quickly realize that I was speaking the southern language where 'd' is pronounced as 'y', however in north 'd' is pronounced as 'z'.

Correcting my mistake I again said 'zua t-u-oi' (or fresh coconut that is to say). And voila - they understood; nodding in appreciation - "ah, zua, zua tuoi".

After 10 minutes of wait - I got a glass with some juice in it. It totally didn't look like coconut or any of its derivatives. Nevertheless, I took a sip and exclaimed - this totally is not like coconut. 

"Coconut!", my friends exclaimed, and broke into a laugh. I was later explained that while Coconut is dừa; Pineapple is dứa !

All that is different is the tone - so if you speak it in a sad manner; with your voice going down at 'u' - that's coconut; but if you speak excited, as I was, with the voice going sharply up at 'u': Ta Da - that's pineapple for you!!!

And in case you happenstance to be ambivalent about it: neither excited, nor sad; your voice a flat tone - you will speak du'a - and that's melon for you!

Crazy language.

p.s. I was surprised as to how I was not able to pin down that the juice tasted like Pineapple before I was told it was so; all I could tell was that it was citrus and not coconut-like :)

1 comment:

  1. The title kind of killed the suspense.