Language comparison Vietnamese and English By Damian Michaels
Vietnamese: A Brief History of the Language -Vietnamese is a Mon-Khmer language. -The alphabet was born out of symbol based Chinese script. With the arrival of European Catholic missionaries, the Vietnamese alphabet was reformed to a Roman script to help spread Christianity to their new followers. - Vietnamese has 3 main dialects: Southern, Northern, and Central Vietnamese.
Vietnamese Characteristics -The “syllable is the minimal meaningful unit. It cannot be divided into smaller parts.” (Ngo and Tran p.7) -Tonal language, word meaning is differentiated by pitches or contour signals. Such sounds are marked by diacritics in the writing. -Vietnamese phonetics: consists of 23initial consonant phonemes, eleven nuclear monophthong vowels, three nuclear dipthongs, and six final consonants. - Inflectional language, words have no inflectional endings.
Characteristics (cont.) - 3 word types: simple, reduplicative, and compound. Simple words are mostly monosyllabic Reduplicative word such as “do do” translates to (red red)in English, but it is understood as “rather red”. Compounds consist of 3 types: coordinate compounds, subordinate compounds, and isolated compounds. Coordinated compounds are formed by two morphemes neither of the two modifies the other. A subordinate compound is also formed of two morphemes, in this case, one does modify the other. Isolated compounds do not form systems.
English/Vietnamese Comparison Vietnamese English Syllabic language, follows similar pattern and duration to the next word. Tonal language, pitches constantly change and influence meaning of words. Stress-based language, the stressed syllables occur at intervals. Pitch only used in forming questions.
Comparison Cont. Vietnamese English Un-aspirated /t/ is written as “t” and aspirated /th/ is written as “th”. “ng” sound can fall any where in a word. Tenses are formed by a tense marker. Un-aspirated /t/ and aspirated /th/ are both written as “t”. “ng” cannot fall at the beginning of a word. Tenses are decided by verb formation.
More Comparison Vietnamese English Plurals are determined by sentence context. Word follows the modified noun. Interrogatives such as “who, what, where, etc.” can fall at the beginning or the end of a sentence. Plurals are formed using an ending in most cases. Modifier proceeds the noun. Interrogatives must fall at the beginning of the sentence.
Possible ELL Errors Pronunciation errors due to tonal issues and different letters making different sounds in each language, Spelling issues may occur because Vietnamese has many very short words and English words tend to be much longer than theirs. Verb conjugation issues may occur due to the fact that Vietnamese doesn’t always require a conjugation, but English does.
Errors Cont. With the lack of inflectional words in Vietnamese, an ELL will struggle with these rules in a very inflectional rich language as English. Word order issues will occur. In Vietnamese , “new ball” would be translated as “ball new”. This is potential for confusion. Interrogatives aren’t as strict in Vietnamese as it is in English so one may find an ELL placing interrogatives at the end of sentences.
Conclusion With my research and interviews with my ELL, I find it beneficial to encourage teachers to learn as much about an ELL’s L1. I would also encourage students to read newspapers, watch television in L2, listen to music in L2, and utilize L1 to learn L2.