Introduction to Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt): Part Three

mekong market 

Tiếng Vit

In Part Two I mentioned how Ornette Coleman’s HARMOLODIC  Theory inspired my approach to language learning. In Part Three now I will expand on that idea, using what Ekkehard Jost called Coleman’s “motivic chain” associations (in Jost’s book Free Jazz). By shifting from primary to secondary or tertiary centers, Coleman (Jost suggests) does not limit himself to the tonal center of the piece or indeed of the moment, thus second and third order motifs can become primary (Free Jazz: 51). Indeed, Coleman’s work does move in such a manner, a manner that reminded me of the nature of language: becoming tangential then primary if the subject changes to a new topic of interest.

Thus, by using a Vietnamese verb or personal pronoun as a “tonal” center, I laid out my language study plans to build on such centers to order what I would learn in conjunction or a supplement to my primary grammar studies. Thus in the last two lessons I have been building primarily on “I,” what “I am” or “I was” and what “I am capable of” – all in relation to the being a musician and/or saxophonist: musician being primary, and saxophonist taking the second order of learning, a secondary motif on my being musical.

Now, in the third order of expression I will add the verbs “to think”, and “to say” as a reference to my state of being a musician, and being capable of playing the saxophone. I will thus be able to contemplate and ‘speak on’ the subject of the saxophone.

Tôi đang ____.                      I am ___ – ing   (pronounced like it looks: dang).

In Vietnamese, the letter đ sounds like the English ‘d,’ and the letter ‘d’ in Vietnamese is actually pronounced more like ‘zee’

Tôi đang ăn.                       I am eating (pronounced “dang anne”).

Tôi đang nghĩ v ______.      I am thinking about ______.

Tôi nghĩ về nhạc ja .          I am thinking about jazz.

NOTE: The Vietnamese word for jazz can also be da or ja, depending on where you live in Vietnam. I have heard Northerners use da so it is the word I use.

Tôi nói…                       I say…    (pronounced gnoy, like “gnosis”)

Tôi đang nói.                I am saying.

Tôi đã nói.                    I said/was saying.

Tôi sẽ nói                     I will say.

Tôi đã nói, “tôi không phải là thiên tài.”     I said, “I am not a genius.”

Thus, by expanding vocabulary and grammar outward from a primary thought or central expression, one can develop their conversational abilities faster and more efficiently, via topics that are directly relevant to their immediate concerns or lifestyle.


© 2014 Daniel


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