Vietnamese nail shop

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Charles Below writes:

As a follow-up to "Diacriticless Vietnamese on a sign in San Francisco" (9/30/18), I saw this sign about a block or two away on a closed nail salon. I note the stray dot over the I in NAILS.  The surname I've redacted is, I believe, Irish.

Here, in upper and lower case letters, is the corrected version:

Tiệm nails cần bạn. Liên lạc

[Store (店) nails (adjective follows noun) seeks / needs “friend” (helper).  Contact (联络)]

Nail shop is looking for help.  Contact:

Poor Cheryl's dots were straying all over the place, showing up where they weren't supposed to be and going missing where they should have been.

[Thanks to Bill Hannas and Steve O'Harrow]


  1. Jenny Chu said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 12:48 am

    Or: in Central Vietnamese, the nặng and the huyền tones sometimes collapse. So, a word like bạn can be pronounced a little bit more like bàn, and then, unless you're a very good speller, you might easily end up writing one as the other. (Similarly: in the Central region, repair shops [sửa chữa xe] often inadvertantly advertise milk [sữa …])

    Could this just be bad spelling?

  2. Jenny Chu said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 12:51 am

    (And Cheryl could still be from Vietnam despite having an Irish last name.)

  3. Victor Mair said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 6:44 am

    From Steve O'Harrow:

    "Nail Salon"
    "Need (you) to get in touch"
    [Southern dialect]
    Spelled without some tone marks.

  4. Luzzie said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 7:17 am

    I think you misunderstood what the owner was trying to say. It correctly suppose to be Tiệm Nails Cần Bán. Liên Lạc. Nails Salon Needs To Be Sold. Contact …

    If they were looking for helps different wordings would be use like Cần Tìm Thợ Nails. Looking For Nails Technicians.

  5. Michael Watts said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 10:59 am

    Why wouldn't notices like this use the native Vietnamese term for fingernails? Is there a conceptual difference?

  6. Steve O'Harrow said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 11:50 am

    Now that I see it again, I think Luzzie is right – the miss-spelled "ban" is probably "bán" /to sell/ and not "bạn" /friend (vocative substitute/. And the person with the Irish name could (especially if the owner is female) could still be Vietnamese. In fact, I happen to know of at least one Vietnamese "O'Harrow," FYI. Quite a few Việt Kiều in America left their homeland before having gone to school and never really got to learn how to spell correctly.

  7. cliff arroyo said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 12:33 pm

    " Tiệm Nails Cần Bán. Liên Lạc. Nails Salon Needs To Be Sold. Contact … "

    That sounds reasonable, used ban in a help wanted sign sounds weird (and to then misspell it?).

    " the native Vietnamese term"

    I suspect that Nails is used to refer to salons (at least in the US) using a foreign word together with a Vietnamese word (in front of it) to help disambiguate it is, I think, pretty common.

  8. dainichi said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 3:07 am

    > Poor Cheryl's dots were straying all over the place,

    Yes, but AFAIK there's no capital I with a dot above it in Vietnamese, so that must be something different from the missing or wrong nặng dots. Font problems? The Turkish alphabet comes to mind, but that would only deepen the mystery…

  9. Levantine said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 3:41 am

    dainichi, if it were a Turkish İ, the dot would not be floating so high above the rest of the letter.

  10. dainichi said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 4:00 am

    Oh, silly me, how could I not have noticed that all the diacritics are added by hand… so I guess the dotted capital I's could just be a personal style choice. But what's the deal with the lines over some of the N's?

  11. Levantine said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 4:15 am

    You’re not so silly—I didn’t notice either!

  12. Quyet said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 6:13 am

    "Yes, but AFAIK there's no capital I with a dot above it in Vietnamese"
    It's not uncommon to see it in various stylistic fonts/typefaces in Vietnam, produced by both private individuals and sometimes in government 'propaganda art'.

  13. Philip Taylor said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

    I've tried several times to post the following, but not yet succeeded; now trying again …

    My wife (native Vietnamese speaker from Đà Nẵng, Central region) agrees with the more recent suggestions of "Nails Salon Needs To Be Sold. Contact …".

  14. Quyet said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 5:38 pm

    As others have said, cần bán is correct. To hire staff, native Vietnamese would write: Tiệm nail tuyển nhân viên or Tuyển thợ làm nail.

    If the sign does indeed mean cần bạn, it is the product of a non-native or Việt Kiều with low proficiency.

    Furthermore, @Victor Mair, these days liên lạc is used in the North as commonly as liên hệ.

  15. dainichi said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 7:22 pm

    @Quyet, thanks for the info.

    Ah, I have an idea… The lines over the N's are in fact the missing grave and acute, respectively, over the previous vowels.

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