Friday, December 16, 2016

Counting in Vietnamese, And A Little Sudden Surprise

In case you were wondering how to count to ten in Vietnamese, here it is:

một one
hai two
ba three
bốn four
năm five
sáu six
bảy seven
tám eight
chín nine
mười ten

When making a toast, the Vietnamese typically all count together to four, so everybody chants in unison, “một, hai, ba, bốn!” and then everybody takes a big slug of what they are drinking. Counting to 99 is pretty simple using the numbers above, but there are a few quirky exceptions, which I will list below. Between one and nineteen, you just take the number for “ten” (mười) and add the next number to it, so eleven would be “mười một”, twelve would be “mười hai” and so on. One exception is that, for numbers over ten, you use “lăm” (in some dialects, it is nhăm for the last five in numbers over twenty...note that the difference in pronunciation between “năm” and “nhăm” is “NAHM” versus “NYAHM”) instead of “năm” for the last five in the number (the one in the ones column). Hence, fifteen is “mười lăm”. Another exception is that four in the ones column changes to “tư” for numbers over twenty.

To make twenty through ninety, you simply put the corresponding number followed by “mười”. So twenty is “hai mười”, thirty is “ba mười”, etc. You have to be careful about the order, because it is meaningful...”sáu mười” means “forty”, but ”mười sáu” means “fourteen”.

Then to fill in the rest of the numbers, you just add the corresponding number at the end. So “hai mười một” is “twenty-one”, “hai mười hai” is “twenty-two”, etc. Don't forget that the fives change in the ones column, so “hai mười lăm/nhăm” would be “twenty-five”. But the “mười” part is optional, so most say “hai mốt” instead for “twenty-one”. For example, “fifty-five” might be expressed as “năm lăm”. Another exception is that four in the ones column changes to “tư” for numbers over twenty. So “bảy (mười) tư” would be “seventy-four”. Also the accent changes on the “one” in the ones column, from “một” to “mốt”...I included that in the example for “twenty-one” above. So “tám (mười) mốt” is “eighty-one”.

Then “one hundred” is “một trăm”, and you just append all the stuff I listed above after it to make the numbers from 101 to 199. “Hai trăm” is “two hundred”, etc.  I could give you the numbers for 1000, 1,000,000 and 1,000,000,000, and points between, too, but you don't really care.  On the off-chance that you do, just go to Google Translate.

I'm not even going to try to describe the tonal differences from the tonal accents here. You can probably find some YouTube videos or other sources online that can help with that. Suffice it to say that with simple numbers, you will most likely be understood even if you get the tones not quite right, because of the context...if you're handing out money to someone, and saying the number, even with the wrong tone, they will most likely understand what you are trying to say. Or if someone asks you how old you are, and you respond with a slightly mangled number, they will probably catch what you are meaning to say. But that is not necessarily the case if the context is not that have to use the right tone to convey the right meaning of a word. There are many words that are spelled the same except for the tonal accent (and the accompanying change in sound), and they will have completely different meanings.

On a side note, while I was writing this, my firewall told me I had an attempted port attack from IP, which I looked up online, and it comes from China Unicom Hebei, in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China. So someone in China is trying to hack me, and it is apparently a known IP number for port scans, and has been blacklisted by several routers. They are at longitude 114.8731, and latitude 39.0728, or they are coming from a proxy there.  According to WhoIs, the person this IP is registered to is Kong Lingfei, and that person's address of record is 45, Guang An Street, Shi Jiazhuang City, HeBei Province, 050011, China, and this person's phone number is +86-311-86681601, and email is Quote: “We have received reports of abusive activity from this IP address within the last week. It is potentially still actively engaged in abusive activities.” More on this IP at the Anti-Hacker Alliance. Just sayin'.

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