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How did you become interested in Vietnam and Vietnamese culture?

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How did you become interested in Vietnam and Vietnamese culture?

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When I started learning Japanese.

You know, as a Chinese, I was in a good mood while learning Japanese. Because I don't need to spend much time learning how to write Chinese characters, I can spend my time elsewhere. Such as grammar or vocabulary.

Some time I went home after class, because on the way home, I happened to chat with my classmates from Vietnam for a while, and found that I occasionally guess the meaning of some words they said. Because pronunciation is very close to Chinese. So I googled about Vietnam and Vietnam history.

Wow, it's really fun. I used to think that Japanese and Chinese cultures were closest, because Japan still retains Kanji. However, after consulting some information about Vietnam, I found that Vietnamese culture and Chinese culture are the most similar. This is interesting because the Chinese don't know much about Vietnam. This is not hostility, just don't know. Because our eyes are usually on the United States, the European Union and Japan, we don't know enough about our neighbors. So I became interested in the history of Vietnam, but unfortunately, there is not much Chinese information about Vietnamese history, and almost all the English information is about the Vietnam War.

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I grew up in Jamaica, as far away from Vietnam as you could possibly get.

As a young boy I was always interested in the country. I read the horror stories about the French occupation, the war with the USA and came away being very interested in the country for a variety of reasons I cannot begin to really explain coherently.

Part of it is probably my respect for how they managed to overcome all these wars and move the country forward.

It seemed like a far-away exotic place as much as Jamaica might have seemed a far-away exotic place to Vietnamese people.

So in early 2019, I decided to visit. First Ho Chi Minh City, then back with my teenage daughter to HaNoi in the summer, then living there for the past 6 months.

My reasons for being here thus long now, are these:

The culture is so different - I love “different”

Personal service is fantastic.

Very direct people - not wasting time.

Filled with style

Authentically Asian and very opposite to the west

I feel at home

So now I have many Vietnamese friends - before I knew no Vietnamese people at all. Hanoi is very dynamic and I have the freedom of the city to enjoy. What’s not to like at this point?

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My maternal grandfather is from Vietnam. He once fought against Ho Chi Minh and Wu Tingyan. He used to be a guerrilla in Vietnam and fought against Japanese, French, South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese. Later returned to China to do business.

My ancestors have one-eighth Vietnamese descent, one-fifth Indian descent and one tenth Chinese descent.







Vietnamese spring rolls and rice noodles are delicious. The climate is pleasant, there are many monuments, and there are many beaches.

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I was born in Vietnam, visited there several times, I have family there and my wife is also from Vietnam. We are both born there. We are both firstborns. We are both overseas Chinese. I learned the Vietnamese language in an attempt to speak with several family members who spoke mostly in Vietnamese.

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Thanks for your request A2A !

Actually, I was born and raised by a traditionally-modern family in a multiracial environment so learning about different cultures and languages was extremely common and still is today. So I got really interested in the Vietnamese language during the mid-early high school year (10th grade to be accurate).

Another reason was I had Vietnamese friends, that took Japanese classes with me during my high school year. During my Kanji (Sino-Japanese) studies, I went to a local Vietnamese restaurant and notice Chinese Characters which at first confused me since the outdoor sign was written in Latin Characters (with diacritical marks; in your language, “Chữ Quốc ngữ”). The same goes for Vietnamese (water) store, laundry, and hair/ beauty salon. At first, I thought that Vietnamese were like the Japanese (“active” on Chinese Characters), it turns out they aren’t.

So, I did my research about it and came across Hán-Nôm script. This allowed me to appreciate and “awaken” my interests in Chinese Characters from different nations, despite that there ARE certain countries (Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan) that “evolved” their writing system in their own native writing system, which we see today.

I DID wanted to take Vietnamese class during high school years but my high school did NOT have Vietnamese class. So in college, I took Vietnamese class along with Japanese and Korean classes at the same school term. Turns out, they all have their similarities in language and culture context.

My Vietnamese teacher (or in your language “thầy [tiếng việt]”). Yes, my Vietnamese teacher is a “HE” so interesting enough, he taught me both North and South Vietnamese since he enthusiastically says “Why not learn both?”. I really didn’t mind. Also, most of my classmates were Vietnamese particularly from the South so learning the Northern dialect proves to be a challenge to them except for some foreigners which they find that Northern dialect is more “easier”.

I would half-agree since my vocabulary was purely based on Sino-Vietnamese ( Từ Hán-Việt ) rather than Native Vietnamese ( Từ thuần Việt ) which some of the verbs tense were difficult since they were mostly Native Vietnamese. The most noticeable words I knew were “ học ” (學) and “ đọc ”(讀) which meant “to study” and “to read”. Because Sino-Japanese and Sino-Korean say this similar, Japanese is “学” / gaku / and Korean is “학” / hak / for “learning” or “study” and Japanese is “読” / doku / and Korean is “독” / dok / for “read”.

So if I say “I study Psychology.” in Vietnamese. I can simply say

Tôi học tâm lý học .” easily because…

Tôi ” is a pronoun for “me”, “my”, and “I”

“học ” means “study”

tâm lý ” (心理) + “ học ”(學) meaning “mental” + “study of” so “study of mental” is “psychology”. Japanese and Korean has this exact meaning with similar pronunciation as well.

Japanese: 心理学 (しんりがく) / shin ri gaku /

Korean: 심리학 (心理學) / shim ri hak /

For my knowledge about Vietnamese cultures, I did participate in wearing áo dài and nón lá. Plus I tried Vietnamese food (other than “ Phở” ), I tried “ Bún bò Huế ”, “ Bánh xèo ”, “ Bánh chưng ” (for Northern Vietnamese)/ “ Bánh tét ” or ” Bánh tày ” (Southern Vietnamese), “ Chè ” with Calpico, “ Sầu riêng ”, “ Cơm cháy ”, “ Bún thịt nướng ” with “ Kalbi ”, and “Bánh tráng nướng” . All of them were delicious.

Also, I learned about the story of “ Ông Táo” which literally means “Kitchen God” during Vietnamese Tết (Chinese Lunar New Year).


What really got me interested in Vietnamese was the similarities between Japanese and Korean, how they are connected through Chinese. If anyone were to view Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean, and Sino-Vietnamese, they are NOT so very different once being exposed to it, you start to understand the concept and patterns. Also, I learned from a certain VietnamAnswern , about Sinosphere and Sino-Xenic cultures and languages.

I hope this answers your question. :D

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