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© Lonely Planet Publications 513

Language CONTENTS Khmer Lao Mandarin Chinese Thai Vietnamese

513 516 518 521 523

This language guide offers useful words and phrases for basic communication in the five main languages spoken in the regions covered by this book. For more comprehensive coverage of these languages we recommend Lonely Planet phrasebooks: the Southeast Asia Phrasebook for Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese, and the Mandarin Phrasebook for Chinese.

KHMER PRONUNCIATION The pronunciation guide below covers the trickier parts of the transliteration system used in this chapter. It uses the Roman alphabet to give the closest equivalent to the sounds of the Khmer language. The best way to improve your pronunciation is to listen carefully to native speakers. Vowels and diphthongs with an h at the end should be pronounced hard and aspirated (with a puff of air). aa a, ah i uh ii ei eu euh oh ow u uu

as the ‘a’ in ‘father’ shorter and harder than aa as in ‘kit’ as the ‘u’ in ‘but’ as the ‘ee’ in ‘feet’ a combination of uh and ii above like saying ‘oo’ while keeping the lips spread flat rather than rounded as eu above; pronounced short and hard as the ‘o’ in ‘hose’; pronounced short and hard as in ‘glow’ as the ‘u’ in ‘flute’; pronounced short and hard as the ‘oo’ in ‘zoo’

ohm am oam eah ih eh awh oah aw

The final ‘v’ is not pronounced. as the ‘ome’ in ‘home’ as the ‘um’ in ‘glum’ a combination of ‘o’ and ‘am’ combination of ‘e’ and ‘ah’; pronounced short and hard as the ‘ee’ in ‘teeth’; pronounced short and hard as the ‘a’ in ‘date’; pronounced short and hard as the ‘aw’ in ‘jaw’; pronounced short and hard a combination of ‘o’ and ‘ah’; pronounced short and hard as the ‘aw’ in ‘jaw’

Consonants Khmer uses some consonant combinations that may sound rather bizarre to Western ears and be equally difficult for Western tongues, eg ‘j-r’ in j’rook (pig), or ‘ch-ng’ in ch’ngain (delicious). For ease of pronunciation, in this guide these types of consonants are separated with an apostrophe. k kh ng

j ch ny t th

as the ‘g’ in ‘go’ as the ‘k’ in ‘kind’ as the ‘ng’ in ‘sing’; a difficult sound for Westerners to emulate. Practise by repeating ‘singingnging-nging-nging’ until you can say ‘nging’ clearly. as in ‘jump’ as in ‘cheese’ as in ‘canyon’ a hard, unaspirated ‘t’ sound with no direct equivalent in English. Similar to the ‘t’ in ‘stand’. as the ‘t’ in ‘two’, never as the ‘th’ in ‘thanks’



ua as the ‘ou’ in ‘tour’ uah as ua above; pronounced short and hard aa-œ a tricky one that has no English equivalent; like a combination of aa and œ œ as ‘er’ in ‘her’, but more open eua combination of eu and a as ‘ee-ya’; like the ‘ee’ in ‘beer’ without the ‘r’ ia e as in ‘they’ ai as in ‘aisle’ ae as the ‘a’ in ‘cat’ ay as ai above, but slightly more nasal ey as in ‘prey’ ao as the ‘ow’ in ‘cow’ av no English equivalent; sounds like a very nasal ao. The final ‘v’ is not pronounced. euv no English equivalent; sounds like a very nasal eu.

514 K H M E R • • A c c o m m o d a t i o n

p ph r w

a hard, unaspirated ‘p’ sound, as the final ‘p’ in ‘puppy’ as the ‘p’ in ‘pond’, never as ‘f’ as in ‘rum’, but hard and rolling, with the tongue flapping against the palate. In rapid conversation it is often omitted entirely. as in ‘would’. Contrary to the common transliteration system, there is no equivalent to the English ‘v’ sound in Khmer.

sahnthaakia/ohtail (thaok) neuv ai naa?


Do you have a room?



samruhp pii niak

with a bathroom dail mian bantohp tuhk

with a fan dail mian dawnghahl

with a window dail mian bawng-uit


Please. sohm

Thank you. xMƬsMubnÃb' ùùù

aw kohn

Excuse me/I’m sorry. sohm toh


Hi. How are you?


I’m fine.

EdlmanbnÃb'Twk Edlmankgúar Edlmanbgíçc


The Khmer language reflects the social standing of the speaker and subject through various personal pronouns and ‘politeness words’. These range from the simple baat for men and jaa for women, placed at the end of a sentence, meaning ‘yes’ or ‘I agree’, to the very formal and archaic Reachasahp or ‘Royal language’, a separate vocabulary reserved for addressing the King and very high officials. Many of the pronouns are determined on the basis of the subject’s age and sex in relation to the speaker. Foreigners are not expected to know all of these forms. The easiest and most general personal pronoun is niak (you), which may be used in most situations, with either sex. Men of your age or older may be called lowk (Mister). Women of your age or older can

niak sohk sabaay te? kh’nyohm sohk sabaay

Where are you going?

CMrabsYr/sYs¶I lasinehIy CYbK~a«f©e¨kay VT cas eT sUm GrKuN sMueTas G~ksuxsbºayeT? xMƬsuxsbºay

Does any one here speak English? tii nih mian niak jeh phiasaa awngle te?


I don’t understand.

kh’nyohm muhn yuhl te/kh’nyohm s’dap muhn baan te


DIRECTIONS phleuv naa teuv ..?

Is it far? wia neuv ch’ngaay te?

Is it near here? wia neuv juht nih te?

Go straight ahead. teuv trawng

Turn left. bawt ch’weng

Turn right. bawt s’dam

K H M E R • • E m e r g e n c i e s 515


juay kh’nyohm phawng! CYyxMƬpg!

Call a doctor!

juay hav kruu paet mao! CYyehA¨KUeBT´mk!

Call the police!

juay hav polih mao!

niak teuv naa? G~keTANa? (a very common question used when meeting people, even strangers; an exact answer isn’t necessary)

How can I get to ...?

pÂèvNaeTA ùùù? vaenAq©ayeT? vaenACitenHeT? eTA¨tg' bt'eqÃg bt's¶S

Where are the toilets?


bawngkohn neuv ai naa? bgðn'enAäNa?

pii bei buan bram bram muy bram pii/puhl bram bei bram buan dawp dawp muy dawp pii dawp bram muy m’phei m’phei muy saamsuhp saisuhp muy roy

muy lian


I’m looking for the ... kh’nyohm rohk ...

Where is a/the ... ... neuv ai naa?

bank th’niakia

market p’saa

police station poh polih/ s’thaanii nohkohbaal

post office praisuhnii

public telephone turasahp saathiaranah

public toilet bawngkohn saathiaranah

How much is it? nih th’lay pohnmaan?

That’s too much. th’lay pek

What time is it?









eileuv nih maong pohnmaan? th’ngay nih th’ngay s’aik

th’ngay jahn








db'BIr «m¸


samsib Essib mYyry


xMƬrk ùùù ùùù enAäNa? FnaKar mnÃIreBT´ p§ar b"s‘b"UlIs/

sÄanIynKrVl «¨bsNIy TUrs&BÃsaFarNî bgðn'saFarNî

enH«fÂb"unμan? «fÂeBk


BIr bI



mohntii paet

Khmers count in increments of five. Thus, after reaching the number five (bram), the cycle begins again with the addition of one, ie ‘five-one’ (bram muy), ‘five-two’ (bram pii) and so on to 10, which begins a new cycle. This system is a bit awkward at first (for example, 18, which has three parts: 10, five and three) but with practice it can be mastered. You may be confused by a colloquial form of counting that reverses the word order for numbers between 10 and 20 and separates the two words with duhn: pii duhn dawp for 12, bei duhn dawp for 13, bram buan duhn dawp for 19 and so on. This form is often used in markets, so listen keenly. muy

muy poan




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 16 20 21 30 40 100


th’ngay ahngkia th’ngay poht th’ngay prohoah

Friday th’ngay sohk

Saturday th’ngay sav

Sunday th’ngay aatuht

²LèvenHem"agbu"nμan? «f©enH «f©Esík «f©cnà «f©Ggðar «f©BuF «f©¨Bhsºti_ «f©su¨k «f©esAr_ «f©GaTit´



juab kh’nia th’ngay krao-y


damlay muy th’ngay pohnmaan?

for two people

See you later. baat (used by men) jaa (used by women)

How much is it per day?

samruhp muy niak

lia suhn hao-y


niak mian bantohp tohmne te?

for one person

Hello. Goodbye.

Where is a (cheap) hotel?

kh’nyohm sohm bantohp ...

be called bawng srei (older sister) or for more formal situations, lowk srei (Madam). Bawng is a good informal, neutral pronoun for men or women who are (or appear to be) older than you. For third person, male or female, singular or plural, the respectful form is koat and the common form is ke. johm riab sua/sua s’dei


I’d like a room ...

516 L A O • • P r o n u n c i a t i o n



What time does the ... leave?

... jein maong pohnmaan? ùùù ecjem"agb"unμan?




bus laan ch’nual

train roht plœng

plane yohn hawh/k’pal hawh

airport wial yohn hawh

bus station

LanQ~çl rfePÂIg yn¶ehê/kV"lehê valyn¶ehê

kuhnlaing laan ch’nual kEnÂgLanQ~çl

bus stop

jamnawt laan ch’nual

train station s’thaanii roht plœng

cMNtLanQ~çl sÄanIyrfePÂIg

LAO PRONUNCIATION as in ‘it’ as in ‘feet’ or ‘tea’ as in ‘aisle’ long ‘a’ as in ‘father’ half as long as aa above as the ‘a’ in ‘bad’ or ‘tab’ as the ‘a’ in ‘hate’ as the ‘u’ in ‘fur’ as the ‘i’ in ‘sir’ as in ‘flute’ as in ‘food’ as the ‘a’ in ‘father’ + the ‘i’ in ‘pipe’ as in ‘now’ or ‘cow’ as in ‘jaw’ as in ‘phone’ as in ‘toe’ diphthong of ‘eu’ and ‘a’ as the ‘i-a’ sound in ‘Ian’ as the ‘u-a’ sound in ‘tour’ ‘u-ay-ee’ ‘i-oo’ (as in ‘yew’) a triphthong of ‘ee-a-oo’ as the ‘a’ in ‘bad’ + ‘w’ as the ‘a’ in ‘care’ + ‘w’ same as ehw above, but shorter (not as in ‘yew’) ‘oe-i’ as the ‘oy’ in ‘boy’ ‘oh-i’

Transliterated consonants are mostly pronounced as per their English counterparts (the exceptions are listed below). An ‘aspirated’ consonant is produced with no audible puff of air. An ‘unvoiced’ or ‘voiceless’ consonant is produced with no vibration in the vocal chords. k kh ng j ny t th p ph

as the ‘k’ in ‘skin’; similar to the ‘g’ in ‘good’, but unaspirated and unvoiced as the ‘k’ in ‘kite’ as in ‘sing’; used as an initial consonant in Lao similar to ‘j’ in ‘join’ or more closely, the second ‘t’ in ‘stature’ or ‘literature’ (unaspirated and unvoiced) as in ‘canyon’; used as an initial consonant in Lao a hard ‘t’, unaspirated and unvoiced – a bit like ‘d’ as in ‘tip’ a hard ‘p’ (unaspirated and unvoiced) ‘p’ as in ‘put’, never as ‘f’

dįi (good) – low tone; produced at the relative bottom of your conversational tonal range – usually flat level het (do) – mid tone; flat like the low tone, but spoken at the relative middle of the speaker’s vocal range. No tone mark is used heúa (boat) – high tone; flat again, but at the relative top of your vocal range sǎam (three) – rising tone; begins a bit below the mid tone and rises to just at or above the high tone sâo (morning) – high falling tone; begins at or above the high tone and falls to the mid level khào (rice) – low falling tone; begins at about the mid level and falls to the level of the low tone

ACCOMMODATION ... yùu sǎi?

camping ground born dâng kêm

guesthouse héu-an pak

hotel hóhng háem


... μøÈæ? ®Èº−ª˜¤À£˜´ À»õº−²ñ¡ »¤Á»´


suay dae!

Go away!


pąi dôe!

I’m lost.


khàwy lǒng tháang

Where are the toilets?


hàwng sùam yuu sǎi?

Call a doctor! suay tąam hǎa mǎw hài dae! §È¸¨ª¾´¹¾Ï ðùÉÁ©È!

Call the police!

suay ôen tam-lùat dae! §È¸¨Àºš$ª¿¹ì¸©Á©È!

Do you have a ...? double room

Lao is a tonal language, whereby many identical phonemes are differentiated only by tone (changes in the pitch of a speaker’s voice). The word sao, for example, can mean ‘girl’, ‘morning’, ‘pillar’ or ‘twenty’, depending on the tone. Pitch variations are relative to the speaker’s, natural vocal range, so that one person’s low tone isn’t necessarily the same pitch as another person’s.

L A O • • E m e r g e n c i e s 517


jôw míi ... wâhng baw?


Where’s a ...?

hàwng náwn tǐang khuu

single room hàwng náwn tǐang diaw

How much is it per ...? ... thao dąi?

night khéun-la

person khón-la

bathroom hàwng nâm

toilet sùam

À¥í¾´ó ... ¹¸È¾¤®Ò? ¹Éº¤−º−ª¼¤£øÈ ¹Éº¤−º−ª¼¤©È¼¸ ... Àꉾé? £õ−ì½ £ö−ì½ ¹Éº¤$Õ ¦É¸´

CONVERSATION & ESSENTIALS Greetings/Hello. sábąai-dǐi

Goodbye. (general farewell) sábąai-dǐi

Goodbye. (person leaving) láa kawn pąi kawn Goodbye. (person staying) sǒhk dǐi (lit: good luck)

See you later. phop kąn mai

Thank you. khàwp jąi

Thank you very much. khàwp jąi lǎi lǎi

Excuse me. khǎw thǒht

¦½®¾¨©ó ¦½®¾¨©ó 쾡Ⱥ$į¡Èº$ ¦¡©ó °Ü®¡ñ$ÃÏÈ ¢º®Ã¥

How are you?


sábąai-dǐi baw?

I’m fine.



And you? jâo dêh?

Can you speak English? jâo pàak pháasǎa ąngkít dâi baw?

I don’t understand. baw khào jąi

À¥í¾À©É? À¥í¾¯¾¡²¾¦¾ºñ¤¡ò©Ä ©É®ƒ? ®ƒÀ¢í¾Ã¥

NUMBERS 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 20 21 22 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 200 1000 10,000 100,000


















































sǎwng hâwy


phán meun (síp-phán) sǎen (hâwy phán)




... yùu sǎi?

Where is the ...?



... μÈøæ?



Vowels i ii ai aa a ae eh oe eu u uu aai ao aw o oh eua ia ua uay iu iaw aew ehw ew oei awy ohy

518 MA N D A R I N C H I N E S E • • P r o n u n c i a t i o n

I’m looking for (the) ... khàwy sâwk hǎa ...

bank thanáakháan

hospital hóhng mǎw

pharmacy hâan khǎai yąa

post office pąi-sá-níi (hóhng sǎai)

public toilet hòrng nâm să-ta-là-nà

telephone thóhlasáp

How much (for) ...? ... thao dąi?

The price is very high. láakháa pháeng lǎai

¢Éº¨§º¡¹¾ ... ê½$¾£¾$ »¤Ïð »É¾$¢¾¨μ¾ į¦½$ó (»¤¦¾¨) ¹Éº¤−Õ¦¾ê¾ì½−½ Âê콦ñ® ... Àꉾé? ì¾£¾Á²¤¹ì¾¨

wáir-láh ják móhng

At what time? dorn ják móhng

At ... dorn ...

today mêu nîi

tomorrow mêu eun

Monday wán jąn wán ąngkháan

Wednesday wán phut

Thursday wán phahát

Friday wán súk

Saturday wán sǎo

Sunday wán ąathit


bus lot

héua bǐn

ìÜ©ªøÉ À»õº®òò$

What time (do we, does it, etc) arrive there? já pai hâwt phûn ják móhng?

Where is the ...? ... yùu sǎi?

airport doen bǐn

bus station sathǎanii lot pájąm tháang

bus stop bawn jàwt lot pájąm tháang

khàwy yàak pąi ...

Go straight ahead. pąi seu-seu


How far?

ªº− ...

near/not near


far/not far


kąi thao dąi? kâi/baw kâi kąi/baw kąi

Turn ... ¸ñ$¥ñ$ ¸ñ$ºñ¤£¾$ ¸ñ$²÷©


lîaw ...

left sâai


... μÈøæ? À©†$®ò$ ¦½ç¾$óìÜ©¯½¥¿ê¾¤ ®Èº$¥º©ìÜ©¯½¥¿ê¾¤

Wǒ yào zhǎo ...





tourist hotel


youth hostel

ian ie o ou u ui uo yu/ü




as the word ‘yen’ as the English word ‘yeah’ as in ‘or’, with no ‘r’ sound as the ‘oa’ in ‘boat’ as in ‘flute’ as the word ‘way’ like a ‘w’ followed by ‘o’ like ‘ee’ with lips pursed

Consonants as the ‘ts’ in ‘bits’ as in ‘chip’, but with the tongue curled up and back

青年旅舍 我想要... 一个床位

single room yìjiān dānrénfáng


bed for two shuāngrén chuáng



the police 警察



Wǒ tīngbudǒng.

Please write it down. Qǐng xiěxiàlai.

我听不懂 请写下来

Yes & No There are no specific words in Mandarin that specifically mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when used in isolation. When a question is asked, the verb is repeated to indicate the affirmative. A response in the negative is formed by using the word bù (meaning ‘no’) before the verb. Nǐ qù shànghǎi ma? Qù. (‘go’)

...多少钱? 每天晚上 每个人

你好 您好 再见 请 谢谢 多谢 不客气 请问,... 对不起

Nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma? 你会说英语吗?


per person měigerén


a doctor


per night měitiān wǎnshàng

Qǐng jiào ...!

Are you going to Shanghai?

How much is it ...? ... duōshǎo qián?

Call ... !


room with two beds shuāngrénfáng


I don’t understand.

bed yí ge chuángwèi

Cèsuǒ zài nǎr?


I’d like (a) ... Wǒ xiǎng yào ...


Where are the toilets?

Do you speak English?

bīnguǎn/fàndiàn/jiǔdiàn 宾馆/饭店/酒店 qīngnián lǚshè


Wǒ mílùle.

Leave me alone!




ìɼ¸ ...


c ch



Jiùmìng a!

I’m lost.



camping ground lùyìngdì


Nǐ hǎo. Nín hǎo. (pol) Goodbye. Zàijiàn. Please. Qǐng. Thank you. Xièxie. Many thanks. Duōxiè. You’re welcome. Búkèqi. Excuse me, ... Qǐng wèn, ... I’m sorry. Duìbùqǐ.

I’m looking for a ...




mā (mother) – high tone má (hemp, numb) – rising tone mǎ (horse) – falling-rising tone mà (scold, swear) – falling tone



... ¥½ºº¡¥ñ¡Â´¤

Mandarin has four tones – high, rising, falling-rising and falling, plus a fifth ‘neutral’ tone which you can all but ignore. To illustrate the importance of getting tones right, look at the word ma, which has four different meanings according to tone:



Bié fán wǒ!




as the ‘ch’ in ‘cheese’ as the ‘s’ in ‘pleasure’ as in ‘ship’, but with the tongue curled up and back as in ‘ship’ as the ‘dz’ in ‘suds’ as the ‘j’ in ‘judge’, but with the tongue curled up and back

¢Éº¨μ¾¡Ä¯ ...



q r sh x z zh

MA N D A R I N C H I N E S E • • A c c o m m o d a t i o n 519



What time will the ... leave? boat


I want to go to ... À¸-ì¾-¥ñ¡-´¤?


... já àwk ják móhng?

lot tûu

No. Bú qù. (‘no go’)

No. Méi yǒu. (‘not have’)

No. Búshì. (‘not so’)

你去上海吗? 去 不去 没有 不是






TIME & DATES What time is it?

520 MA N D A R I N C H I N E S E • • N u m b e r s

NUMBERS 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 20 21 22 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 1000 2000

零 一,幺 二,两 三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十 十一 十二 二十 二十一 二十二 三十 四十 五十 六十 七十 八十 九十 一百 一千 两千

líng yī, yāo èr, liǎng sān sì wǔ liù qī bā jiǔ shí shíyī shí’èr èrshí èrshíyī èrshíèr sānshí sìshí wǔshí liùshí qīshí bāshí jiǔshí yìbǎi yìqiān liǎngqiān

SHOPPING & SERVICES I’m looking for a/the ... Wǎ zài zhǎo ...

bank yínháng

chemist/pharmacy yàodiàn

market shìchǎng

police jǐngchá

post office yóujú

public toilet gōnggòng cèsuǒ

How much is it? Duōshǎo qián?

That’s too expensive. Tài guìle.

银行 药店 医院 市场 警察 邮局 公共厕所

Jǐ diǎn?

When? Shénme shíhòu?





The ‘ph’ in a Thai word is always pronounced like an English ‘p’, not as an ‘f’.

I’m lost.

... hour ... minute now today tomorrow

... diǎn ... fēn xiànzài jīntiān míngtiān

...点 ...分 现在 今天 明天

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

xīngqīyī xīngqī’èr xīngqīsān xīngqīsì xīngqīwǔ xīngqīliù xīngqītiān

星期一 星期二 星期三 星期四 星期五 星期六 星期天

TRANSPORT What time does ... leave/arrive? ... jǐdiǎn kāi/dào?


boat chuán

intercity bus/coach chángtú qìchē


local/city bus gōnggòng qìchē


plane fēijī


train huǒchē


airport fēijīchǎng


long-distance bus station chángtú qìchē zhàn

train station huǒchē zhàn


... zài nǎr?

I want to go to ... Wǒ yào qù ...


Go straight ahead. Yìzhí zǒu.


Turn left. Zuǒ zhuǎn.


Yòu zhuǎn.



far yuǎn



near jìn


Could you show me (on the map)? Nǐ néng bunéng (zài dìtú shang) zhǐ gěi wǒ kàn? 你能不能(在地图上)指给我看?

pai sí!

rohng raem

[hkoryd! gdl^NgVklN Fi'ci} [hkogpk;(o }ushv';jk'ws}`

I’d like (a) ... tâwng kaan ...

^hv'dki... bed

g^up'ovo single room hâwng dìaw shv'gfÅp; room with two beds hâwng thîi mii tiang shv'mÅ}ug^up' sǎwng tua lv'^y; ordinary room (with fan) hâwng tham·má· shv'Tii}fk daa (mii pát lom) Z}uryf]}X tiang nawn

...gmjkwi` %no]t %o]t

CONVERSATION & ESSENTIALS When being polite, a male speaker ends his sentence with khráp and a female speaker says khâ; it’s also the common way to answer ‘yes’ to a question or show agreement.

laa kàwn

Do you have any rooms available? mii hâwng wâang mǎi?

giupd...sojvp mǎw s}v tam·rùat ^ei;&

How much is it ...? ... thâo rai? per night kheun lá per person khon lá


z}!fbCyode]y'sk... hotel

rîak ... nàwy

a doctor the police

sà·wàt·dii (khráp/khâ)

phǒm/dì·chǎn kam·lang hǎa ...

kèt háo (‘guest house’)

Call ...!


I’m looking for a ...

bâan yao·wá·chon ...在哪儿?

chǎn lǒng thaang

Go away!

bàat (baht – the Thai currency) – low tone; a flat pitch pronounced at the relative bottom of the vocal range dii (good) – level or mid tone; pronounced flat, at the relative middle of the vocal range, no tone mark is used mâi (no/not) – falling tone; pronounced as if emphasising a word, or calling someone’s name from afar máa (horse) – high tone; pronounced near the relative top of the vocal range, as level as possible sǎam (three) – rising tone; sounds like the inflection used by English speakers to imply a question


(j;pfh;p Cyos]'mk' wx:b

chûay dûay!

Thai is a tonal language, where changes in pitch can affect meaning. The range of all five tones is relative to each speaker’s vocal range, so there’s no fixed ‘pitch’ intrinsic to the language. The five tones of Thai:

youth hostel

Directions Where is (the) ...?

T HA I • • P r o n u n c i a t i o n 521


bâan phák/ 长途汽车站

Turn right. 多少钱?

TIME & DATES What’s the time?

Yes. châi

No. mâi châi

Please. kà·rú·naa

Thank you. khàwp khun

Excuse me. khǎw à-phai

Sorry. (forgive me) khǎw thôht

How are you? sa·bai dii rěu?

I’m fine, thanks. sa·bai dii

l;ylfuZ%iy[!%jtX ]kdjvo B(j w}jB(j di=Ik *v[%=I *vv#yp *vFmK l[kpfusinv` l[kpfu

NUMBERS 0 1 2 3 4 5

sǔun nèung sǎwng sǎam sìi hâa

L)opN soÃ' lv' lk} lÅ shk



hospital yīyuàn


6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 200 300 1000 2000 10,000 100,000

hòk jèt pàet kâo sìp sìp-èt sìp-sǎwng sìp-sǎam sìp-sìi sìp-hâa sìp-hòk sìp-jèt sìp-pàet sìp-kâo yîi-sìp yîi-sìp-èt yîi-sìp-sǎwng sǎam-sìp sìi-sìp hâa-sìp hòk-sìp jèt-sìp pàet-sìp kâo-sìp nèung ráwy sǎwng ráwy sǎam ráwy nèung phan sǎwng phan nèung mèun nèung sǎen

sd g&Hf cxf gdhk lb[ lb[gvHf lb[lv' lb[lk} lb[lÅ lb[shk lb[sd lb[g&Hf lb[cxf lb[gdhk pÅlb[ pÅlb[gvHf pÅlb[lv' lk}lb[ lÅlb[ shklb[ sdlb[ g&Hflb[ cxflb[ gdhklb[ soÃ'ihvp lv'ihvp lk}ihvp soÃ'ryo lv'ryo soÃ's}Æo soÃ'clo

SHOPPING & SERVICES I’m looking for ... phǒm/dì·chǎn hǎa ...

a bank thá·naa·khaan

the market ta·làat

the post office prai·sà·nii

a public toilet hâwng nám sǎa·thaa·rá·ná

z}!fbCyosk... Tok%ki ^]kf wxiKIupN shv'oμklkTkiIt

the telephone centre sǔun thoh·rá·sàp


the tourist office sǎm·nák ngaan thâwng thîaw


V I E T N A M E S E • • T o n e s & P r o n u n c i a t i o n 523

Directions Where is (the)...? ... yùu thîi nǎi?


Can you show me (on the map)? I’d like to buy ... yàak jà séu ...

How much is it? thâo rai?

It’s too expensive. phaeng koen pai

vpkd&t:³v... gmjkwi` cr'gdbowx

hâi duu (nai phǎen thîi) dâi mǎi?

(Go) Straight ahead. trong pai

Turn left. líaw sáai


Turn right.

What time is it?


kìi mohng láew?

It’s (8 o’clock). pàet mohng láew

today tomorrow Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

líaw khwǎa

dÅF}'c]h;` cxfF}'c]h; wan níi ;yoo² phrûng níi rij='o² wan jan ;yo&yomiN wan ang·khaan ;yovy'%ki wan phút ;yor=T wan phá·réu·hàt ;yor+sylO wan sùk ;yoL=diN wan sǎo ;yoglkiN wan aa·thít ;yovkmb^pN

TRANSPORT What time does the ... leave? ... jà àwk kìi mohng?



near/not far klâi/mâi klai

Bshf)ZBoczomÅX wfhws}` ^i'wx g]²p;:hkp g]²p;*;k wd] Bd]h!w}jwd]

VIETNAMESE There are differences between the Vietnamese of the north and the Vietnamese of the south; where different forms are used in this guide, they are indicated by ‘N’ for the north and ‘S’ for the south.

TONES & PRONUNCIATION To help you make sense of what is (for nonVietnamese) a very tricky writing system, the words and phrases in this language guide include pronunciations that use a written form more familiar to English speakers. The symbols used for marking the tones are the same as those used in standard written Vietnamese.

What time does the ... arrive? ... jà thěung kìi mohng?

...&t$@'dÅF}'` boat bus (city) bus (intercity) plane train

reua rót meh rót thua khrêuang bin rót fai

airport sa·nǎam bin

bus station sa·thǎa·nii khǒn sòng

bus stop pâai rót meh

train station sa·thǎa·nii rót fai

ginv i$g}]N i$my;iN g%iÆv'[bo i$wa

lok}[bo l$kou*ol•' xhkpi$g}]N l$koui$wa


Cứu tôi!

ğuhr·oó doy!

I’m lost.

Tôi bị lạc đường.

doi beẹ laạk đuhr·èrng

Leave me alone! Thôi!


Where’s the toilet? Nhà vệ sinh ở đâu?

nyaà vẹ sing ẻr doh?

Please call ... Làm ơn gọi ...

laàm ern gọy ...

a doctor bác sĩ

baák seẽ

the police công an

ğawm aan

There are six tones in spoken Vietnamese. Thus, every syllable in Vietnamese can be pronounced six different ways. For example, depending on the tones, the word ma can be read to mean ‘phantom’, ‘but’, ‘mother’, ‘rice seedling’, ‘tomb’ or ‘horse’. The six tones are represented by five diacritical marks in the written language (the first tone is left unmarked). ma mà mả mã mạ

(ghost) – middle of the vocal range (which) – begins low and falls lower (tomb) – begins low, dips and then rises to higher pitch (horse) – begins high, dips slightly, then rises sharply (rice seedling) – begins low, falls to a lower level, then stops má (mother) – begins high and rises sharply



c, k đ d

Đâu có ... (rẻ tiền)?

gikhngnhphr s trthx -ch -ng -nh

ğ đ z/y

an unaspirated ‘k’ (with crossbar) as in ‘do’ (without crossbar) as the ‘z’ in ‘zoo’ (N); as the ‘y’ in ‘yes’ (S) z/y as a ‘z’ (N); as a ‘y’ (S) ch as the ‘ch’ in German buch ng as the ‘-nga-’ sound in ‘long ago’ ny as the ‘ny’ in ‘canyon’ f as in ‘farm’ z/r as ‘z’ (N); as ‘r’ (S) s/sh as ‘s’ (N); as ‘sh’ (S) ch/tr as ‘ch’ (N); as ‘tr’ (S) t a strongly aspirated ‘t’ s like an ‘s’ k like a ‘k’ ng as the ‘ng’ in ‘long’ but with the lips closed; sounds like English ‘m’ ng as in ‘singing’

Where is there a (cheap) ...? camping ground

nơi cắm trại


nhà khách


khách sạn

air-conditioning máy lạnh


phòng tắm

hot water

nước nóng


nhà vệ sinh

đoh ğó ... (zả đee·ùhn)? ner·ee ğúhm chại nyaà kaák kaák saạn máy laạng fòm dúhm nuhr·érk nóm nyaà vẹ sing



522 T HA I • • S h o p p i n g & S e r v i c e s

524 V I E T N A M E S E • • C o n v e r s a t i o n & E s s e n t i a l s

I’d like (a) ... Tôi muốn ...

doy moo·úhn ...

single room

phòng đơn

fòm dern


giường đôi

zuhr·èrng đoy

room with two beds

phòng gồm hai giường ngủ

How much is it ...? Giá bao nhiêu ...?

per night một đêm

fòm gàwm hai zuhr·èrng ngoỏ zaá bow nyee·oo ...? mạwt đem

per person một ngừơi

mạwt nguhr·eè

CONVERSATION & ESSENTIALS There are many different forms of address in Vietnamese. The safest way to address people is: ông (to a man of any status), anh (to a young man), bà (to a middle-aged or older woman), cô (to a young woman) and em (to a child). Hello.

Xin chào.


Tạm biệt.


Làm ơn.

Thank you. Cảm ơn.


Không. Có khỏe không?

Fine, thank you. Khỏe, cám ơn.

Do you speak English? Bạn có nói được tiếng Anh không?

I (don’t) understand. Tôi (không) hiểu.


Tôi tìm ...

dụm bee·ẹt

nhà thương

làm ern


the hospital the market the post office

bưu điện

a public phone

phòng điện thoại

a public toilet

phòng vệ sinh

tourist office

văn phòng hướng dẫn du lịch


How are you?

I’m looking for ... a bank

vang yạ

káw kwảir kom?

How much is this?

kwảir kảm ern

It’s too expensive.

Baạn ğó nóy đuhr·ẹrk díng aang kawm?


doy (kawm) heẻ·oo mạwt hai baa

doy dìm ... nguhn haàng nyaà tuhr·erng


hôm nay

tomorrow ngày mai

Monday thứ hai

Tuesday thứ ba

Wednesday thứ tư

Thursday thứ năm


thứ sáu

Saturday thứ bảy


chủ nhật

hawm nay ngày mai túhr hai

xe buýt

sa lủhr·uh

Directions Where is ...? ở đâu ...?

ẻr đoh ...?

túhr duhr

Go straight ahead.

túhr nuhm

Can you show me (on the map)?

túhr sóh

Tôi muốn đi ...

Thẳng tới trước.

Xin chỉ giùm (trên bản đồ này)?

túhr bảy

Turn left.

jỏo nhụht

Turn right.

Sang trái.

Sang phải.

at the corner

Chuyến ... (sớm nhất) chạy lúc mấy giờ? jwee·úhn ... (sérm nyúht) jạy lúp máy zèr? tàu/thuyền

xe lửa

máy bay

I want to go to ...

What time does the (first)... leave/arrive?



túhr baa




máy bay

dòw/twee·ùhn sa beét

ở góc đường

at the traffic lights tại đèn giao tawm



near (to) gần

doy moo·úhn đee ... tủhng der·eé chuhr·érk sin jeẻ zùm (chen baản đàw này)?

saang chaí saang faỉ ẻr góp đuhr·èrng dại đèn zow thông saa gùhn

jẹr buhr·oo đee·ụhn fòm đee·ụhn twaị fòm vẹ sing vuhn fòm huhr·érng zũhn zoo lịk

Cái này giá bao nhiêu? ğaí này zaá bow nyee·oo? Cái này quá mắc.

What time is it? Mấy giờ rồi?

It’s ... o’clock. một hai ba

báwn nuhm sóh bảy dúhm jín muhr·eè muhr·eè mọt muhr·eè jín hai muhr·ee hai muhr·ee máwt hai muhr·ee hai ba muhr·ee jín muhr·ee mạwt chuhm hai chuhm jín chuhm mạwt ngyìn mọt ngaàn muhr·eè ngyìn muhr·eè ngaàn


sin lõ·ee

Vâng. (N) Dạ. (S)


bốn năm sáu bảy tám chín mười mười một muời chín hai mươi hai mươi mốt hai mươi hai ba mươi chín mươi một trăm hai trăm chín trăm một nghìn (N) một ngàn (S) mười nghìn (N) mười ngàn (S)

© Lonely Planet Publications V I E T N A M E S E • • T r a n s p o r t 525



Xin lỗi.


4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 19 20 21 22 30 90 100 200 900 1000

sin jòw

kảm ern

Excuse me.

Bây giờ là ... giờ.


bây giờ

ğaí này gwaá múhk

máy zèr zòy? bay zèr laà ... zèr bay zèr

Also available from Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia and Mandarin Phrasebooks

© Lonely Planet Publications 526

G L O S S A R Y 527

Glossary For food and drink terms, see Eat Your Words, p94. ABBREVIATIONS

C – Cambodia L – Laos T – Thailand V – Vietnam Y – Yúnnán province (China)

American War (V) – Vietnamese name for what is also known as the ‘Vietnam War’ ao dai (V) – traditional Vietnamese tunic and trousers APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation apsara (C) – heavenly nymphs or angelic dancers Asean – Association of Southeast Asian Nations asura (C) – demon

bâan (T) – house, village; also written as ‘ban’ bąasǐi (L) – sometimes written as ‘basi’ or ‘baci’; a ceremony in which the 32 khwǎn are symbolically bound to the participant for health and safety baht (T) – the Thai unit of currency báijiǔ (Y) – literally ‘white alcohol’, a type of facenumbing rice wine barang (C) – foreigner baray (C) – ancient reservoir BCEL (L) – Banque pour le Commerce Extérieur Lao; in English, Lao Foreign Trade Bank BE (L, T) – Buddhist Era boeng (C) – lake bówùguǎn (Y) – museum Brahman – pertaining to Brahmanism, an ancient religious tradition in India and the predecessor of Hinduism; not to be confused with ‘Brahmin’, the priestly class in India’s caste system BTS (T) – Bangkok Transit System (Skytrain); Thai: rót fai fáa bun (L) – festival buu dien (V) – post office

chnnang (C) – pot Chunchiet (C) – ethnolinguistic minority CITS (Y) – China International Travel Service; deals with foreign tourists in China CPP (C) – Cambodian People’s Party cūn (Y) – village cyclo (C, V) – pedicab

deva (C) – god devaraja (C) – god king DMZ (V) – the misnamed Demilitarised Zone, a strip of land that once separated North and South Vietnam doi moi (V) – economic restructuring or reform dong (V) – the Vietnamese unit of currency duong (V) – road, street; abbreviated as ‘Ð’

Ecpat – End Child Prostitution & Trafficking falang (L) – Western, Westerner; foreigner fānchuán (Y)– pirate-sized junks with bamboo-battened canvas sails faràng (T) – Western, Westerner; foreigner feng shui – literally, ‘wind water’; used to describe geomancy Funan (C, V) – first Khmer kingdom, located in Mekong Delta area Funcinpec (C) – National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful & Cooperative Cambodia

gōng (Y) – temple gōngyuán (Y) – park gopura (C) – entrance pavilion in traditional Hindu architecture

háang thíen (L) – candle rail Han (Y) – China’s main ethnic group hǎw wái (L) – prayer hall HCMC (V) – Ho Chi Minh City héua hang nyáo (L) – long-tail boat héua phai (L) – rowboat héua wái (L) – speedboat Hinayana – literally, Lesser Vehicle; the school of Bud-

Champa, a Hindu kingdom dating from the 2nd century BC

chedi (T) – see stupa Chenla (C, L, V) – Pre-Angkorian Khmer kingdom covering parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Trail (V) – route used by the North Vietnamese to move supplies to guerrillas in the South Hoa (V) – ethnic Chinese, the largest single minority group in Vietnam Honda om (V) – motorbike taxi hú (Y) – lake

moto (C) – motorcycle taxi Mt Meru – the mythical dwelling place of the Hindu

colony of Indochine; the name derives from Indian and Chinese influences Isan (T) – general term used for northeastern Thailand

gods, symbolised by the Himalayas múan (L) – fun, which the Lao believe should be present in all activities muay thai (T) – Thai boxing

jataka (C, L, T) – stories of the Buddha’s past lives, often enacted in dance-drama jumbo (L) – a motorised three-wheeled taxi, sometimes called a túk-túk

nâa (T) – face nâam (L, T) – water, river naga (C, L, T) – mythical serpent-being nákhon (T) – city nǎng (T) – shadow play nha-rong (C, T, V) – Jarai communal house NPA (L) – National Protected Area NTAL (L) – Lao National Tourism Administration NVA (V) – North Vietnamese Army

karst – limestone peaks with caves, underground streams and potholes káthoey (T) – transvestite, transsexual khaen (L) – panpipe khao (T) – hill, mountain khlong (T) – canal Khmer (C) – ethnic Cambodians; Cambodian language Khmer Rouge (C) – literally Red Khmers, the commonly used name for the Cambodian communist movement responsible for genocide in the 1970s khwǎn (L) – guardian spirits of the body Kinh (V) – the Vietnamese language kip (L) – the Lao unit of currency ko (T) – island koh (C) – island krama (C) – chequered scarf Kuomintang (Y) – Nationalist Party, also known as KMT; the KMT controlled China between 1925 and 1949 until defeated by the communists lákhon (C, T) – classical Thai dance-drama lǎowài (Y) – foreigners liǎng (Y) – see tael lí-keh (T) – Thai folk dance-drama linga (C, L, T, V) – phallic symbol luóhàn (Y) – arhat or noble one mâe chii (T) – Buddhist nun mae nam (L, T) – river mah jong (Y) – popular Chinese card game for four people, played with engraved tiles

Pali – ancient Indian language that, along with Sanskrit, is the root of Khmer, Lao and Thai

Pathet Lao (L) – literally, ‘Country of Laos’; both a general term for the country and the common name for the Lao communist military during the civil war PDA (T) – Population & Community Development Association Ph (C) – abbreviation for phlauv phansǎa (T) – Buddhist lent phlauv (C) – road, street; abbreviated as ‘Ph’ phleng phêua chii-wít (T) – songs for life, modern Thai folk songs phnom (C) – mountain phu (L) – hill or mountain Pinyin (Y) – the official system for transliterating Chinese script into Roman characters ponglang (T) – northeastern Thai marimba (percussion instrument) made of short logs POW – prisoner of war praang (C, T) – Khmer-style tower structure, found in temples; see also stupa prasat (C, T) – tower, temple PRC (Y) – People’s Republic of China psar (C) – market PSB (Y) – Public Security Bureau

Mahayana – literally, Great Vehicle; a school of Buddhism that extended the early Buddhist teachings; see also Theravada mát-mìi (T) – cloth made of tie-dyed silk or cotton thread; also written as ‘mat-mii’ meuang (L, T) – city MIA (C, L, V) – missing in action, usually referring to US personnel mondòp (T) – small square, spired building in a wat Montagnards (V) – highlanders, mountain people; specifically the ethnic minorities inhabiting remote areas of Vietnam

quan (V) – urban district quoc ngu (V) – Vietnamese alphabet Ramakian (T) – Thai version of the Ramayana Ramayana – Indian epic story of Rama’s battle with demons

Reamker (C) – Khmer version of the Ramayana remorque-moto (C) – motorcycle-pulled trailer riel (C) – the Cambodian unit of currency roi nuoc (V) – water puppetry rót fai fáa (T) – Skytrain; BTS



dhism correctly known as Theravada

cāntīng (Y) – restaurant Cao Daism (V) – Vietnamese religious sect Cham (C, V) – ethnic minority descended from the people of

IDP – International Driving Permit Indochina – Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the French

© Lonely Planet Publications 528 G L O S S A R Y

sǎamláw (T) – three-wheeled pedicab; also written as ‘samlor’

sâiyasaat (L) – folk magic, officially banned in Laos sampot (C) – the national saronglike garment, usually worn at important occasions Sanskrit – ancient Hindu language that, along with Pali, is the root of Khmer, Lao and Thai sànùk (T) – fun sǎwngthǎew (L, T) – small pick-up truck with two benches in the back; also written as ‘songthaew’ shān (Y) – mountain sĭm (L) – chapel sima (L) – ordination stones soi (L, T) – lane, small street song (L, V) – river Songkran (T) – Thai New Year, held in mid-April SRV (V) – Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam’s official name) stung (C) – small river stupa – religious monument, often containing Buddha relics


tael (Y) – unit of weight; one tael (liǎng) equals 37.5g; used throughout the Mekong for weighing gold and precious stones talat (L) – market Tam Giao (V) – literally, ‘triple religion’; Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism fused over time with popular Chinese beliefs and ancient Vietnamese animism Tao (V) – the Way; the essence of which all things are made

TAT (T) – Tourism Authority of Thailand tat (L) – waterfall Tet (V) – lunar New Year Th (L, T) – abbreviation for thànǒn thâat (L) – Buddhist stupa, reliquary; also written as ‘that’ thànǒn (L, T) – road, street, avenue; abbreviated as ‘Th’ Theravada – a school of Buddhism found in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand; this school confined itself to the early Buddhist teachings unlike Mahayana tonlé (C) – major river tripitaka (T) – Buddhist scriptures túk-túk (L, T) – motorised sǎamláw; written as ‘tuk-tuk’ in Cambodia tuóchá (Y) – smoked green tea

UNDP – UN Development Programme UXO (C, L) – unexploded ordnance VC (V) – Viet Cong or Vietnamese Communists vihara (C) – temple sanctuary vipassana (L, T) – insight awareness meditation wâi (L, T) – palms-together greeting wat (C, L, T) – Buddhist temple-monastery wíhǎan (T) – sanctuary, hall, dwelling xe om (V) – see Honda om yuán (Y) – the Chinese unit of currency

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uah as ua above; pronounced short and hard aa-œ a tricky one that has no English equivalent; like a combination of aa and œ œ Vowels and di...