Diacriticless Vietnamese, part 2

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This comment by Quyet on a recent post ("Dungan-English dictionary" [10/26/18]) is of such significance that I feel it merits separate, special recognition of its own:

The [Vietnamese] government often sends out mass text messages with announcements to every number in the country with no diacritics at all. Furthermore, teenagers have grown up to text toneless and abbreviated with no issues, and now it's common to see things like "Hn 2 vc mun dj choj oh cv thog nhat vs cac p dog nghiep hem?"

Here, courtesy of Liam Kelley, is that sentence with all the diacriticals and elided letters added in:

Hôm nay hay vợ chồng muốn đi chơi ở công viên thống nhất với các bác đồng nghiệp không?

Do you two husband and wife want to go have fun at Unification Park with (us) older colleagues or not?

Hn = hôm nay = today
2 = hay = two
vc = vợ chồng = husband and wife
mun = muốn = wang
dj choj = đi chơi = to go have fun
oh = ở = at
cv = công viên = park
thog nhat = thống nhất – unification
vs = với = with
cac = các = [makes the following word plural]
p dog nghiep = bác [?] đồng nghiệp = uncle colleagues, i.e., "elders" who are your colleagues
hem = không = or not?

Eric Henry and Steve O'Harrow also were able to read the sentence and make sense of it.


"Diacriticless Vietnamese on a sign in San Francisco" (9/30/18)

"Words in Vietnamese" (10/2/18)

"Vietnamese nail shop" (10/21/18)


  1. Victor Mair said,

    October 27, 2018 @ 8:04 pm

    From Quynh Dang:

    I would interpret the text as follows: “Hôm nay hai vợ chồng có muốn đi chơi ở công viên Thống Nhất với các bạn đồng nghiệp không?”.

    First, I assume this is not a typo but rather a kind of text “language” used either among teenagers or young people who prefer “short” typing form.

    Second, I know some of the abbreviations in the above text although I find two “words/letters” somehow new to me too.

    Hn= Hôm nay. My friends sometimes shorten the word Hôm nay in a text message as we supposedly and mutually understand what it’s abbreviated for.

    vc= vợ chồng. This short form of vợ chồng has become more and more common in text messages. I remember I received some messages with this abbreviation.

    mun= muốn. This is an interesting word to me as it sounds very Southern. In fact, my friend who is from Ho chi Minh city and now living in the US uses this word often both in speaking and typing. Another way to interpret this word is “it sounds cute!”. Again, from my experience, we, I mean the people that I know and ever discussed about the accent issues with, agree that Southern accent appears to be as “sweet as sugar”. Thus, if you are trying to impress anyone with some sweetness, you may want copy the Southern accent.

    “dj choj” = đi chơi. There are two problems here. First, the typer dropped diacritics for đ in đi and ơ in chơi. Second, and this is annoying to me personally, the typer changed i to j. This happens so often in text messages that people now even use it in public comments on facebook!

    oh = ở. This is one of the strange deformation for me. However, I guess as oh sounds like ở in spoken Vietnamese, the typer creatively saved time by typing o + h= oh instead of o+ w+ r= ở.(Telex style)

    cv = công viên (in this text) or sometimes công việc depending on what you are talking about. This is also an abbreviation.

    thog nhat = Thống Nhất. There are three problems with these two “words”. Obviously, the diacritics are dropped for ô and dấu sắc in ố, â and dấu sắc in ấ. Second, the capitalization of T and N as Thống Nhất is a proper name is also dismissed. Last but not least, the letter n in Thống was wiped out. This form of dropping is also becoming common so that people unspokenly understand what the word means without questioning even when one letter is wiped out!

    vs = với. In my opinion, this deformed word has a lot to do with English’s penetration in Vietnamese. If you notice the word versus is abbreviated as vs in sports game, the vs in this case serves the same purpose.

    cac = các. This one is the most guessable.

    p= bạn. This is the one that appears absurd to me yet I can figure it out. I usually see “bạn” written as “pan” and “b” is intentially changed to “p”. I can’t explain why this happens but I is obviously happening now. I have attached to this email my friend’s text message on Instagram to me. I hope it will help you better understand how it’s used in texting settings.

    “dog nghiep” = đồng nghiệp. There are 2 problems here. First the diacritics are skipped. Second, letter n in đồng is also dropped. Again, dropping one letter in the whole word happens here and the dropping of the letter n in ng occurs at a high frequency in text messages!!!

    “hem” = không. I use this word when I text my close friends. It sounds colloquial and friendly in that way.

  2. Chas Belov said,

    October 28, 2018 @ 1:53 am

    I don't get how không gets transmuted to hem.

  3. Quyết said,

    October 28, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

    Chuẩn luôn ad ơi!

    I'd like to add that -k is a common abbreviation as well:
    Vk – vợ
    Ck – chồng
    Yk – ý (ấy)
    Ak – ah (à, ạ)

    The reason for i being replaced with j is that it's quicker to type on a dumb-phone, so I've hear, and it looks more like calligraphy. Similarly, -h can become -k for the same reason.

    @Chas Belov in the south không is often pronounced as hông, so with the bilabial closure (-ng), hem is a 'cute' variant.

  4. Quyết said,

    October 28, 2018 @ 3:44 pm

    @Victor Mair I believe b -> p is due to Southerners' inability to unvoice b, so the two sound the same, while most Northerners pẻhaps have enough exposure to ethnic minorities and their goodx to produce a p, for example bánh pía (north) vs bánh bía (south). However, in the North we read pạn aloud as bạn as intended.

  5. Quyết said,

    October 28, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

    M cbi di ngu day… cam on mng :)))

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