Vocabulary Vietnamese

by Mark Alves  

The vocabulary contains 1534 meaning-word pairs ("entries") corresponding to core LWT meanings from the recipient language Vietnamese. The corresponding text chapter was published in the book Loanwords in the World's Languages. The language page Vietnamese contains a list of all loanwords arranged by donor languoid.

Details Value Valueset

Field descriptions

Form

The lexical entries consist of common, modern, less technical vocabulary among a choice of synonymous forms. They are generally considered standard Vietnamese as represented by the northern Hanoi variety. Vietnamese is written using the romanized national orthography of Vietnam, Quốc Ngữ.

Free meaning

Meanings are either the same as those in the LWT list or differ slightly with such differing meanings provided.

Comment on word form

This category consists of reconstructions from two sources: (a) the Proto-Austroasiatic reconstructions, or various sub-branches under Proto-Austroasiatic, taken from Shorto (2006) or (b) reconstructions of Proto-Vietic or Vietic sub-branches as posited by Ferlus.

Ferlus, Michel. Proto-Vietic Reconstruction. Unpublished manuscript.

Shorto, Harry. 2006. A Mon-Khmer comparative dictionary. Edited by Paul Sidwell with Doug Cooper and Christian Bauer. Pacific Linguistics 579. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Analyzability

Below are listed the criteria used to determine the analyzability of word forms. Vietnamese is here considered as having only unanalyzable forms or analyzable compounds.

Unanalyzable

Words in this category fall into the following categories.

A. Monomorphemic words (e.g., giếng “a well”).

B. Bisyllabic reduplicated: These are forms in which neither syllable occurs as a free morpheme but which fall in the category of reduplicated compound (e.g., khập khiễng “to limp”).

Analyzable compound

A. Bisyllabic compounds: Most compounds in Vietnamese are two-syllable compounds, many of which are Chinese in origin, some of which are recognizable by native speakers as separate morphs (e.g., Châu Âu (continent-Europe) “European Continent”), and some which are not readily recognizable to native speakers without training in recognizing Chinese morphs (e.g., chính phủ (political-prefecture) “government”). Other compounds include those which contain a mix of Chinese and native morphs (e.g., đàn ông (đàn is Vietnamese and ông is Chinese 翁) “man”) and those which consist of only native morphs (e.g., chó con (both syllables are Proto-Austroasiatic etyma) “puppy”).

B. Phrasal compounds: Such forms in the database typically are translations of borrowed concepts which are not part of daily usage (e.g., đàn ông có vợ (unit-gentleman-have-wife) “married man”).

C. Reduplicated forms: In some cases in reduplicated compounds, the base morpheme is recognizable as a free morph, while the reduplicated morph only appears in the reduplicated form (e.g., trồng trọt “to cultivate,” in which only the syllable trồng “to plant” is a free morph).

Age

In order to distinguish native Austroasiatic vocabulary and various sub-branches within that language family from loanwords, this category includes information about both native and non-native forms. As the time depth and potential complexity of language contact situations are substantial, such information helps to support the accuracy of the claims. The age of each entry depends in part on whether a word is native or borrowed vocabulary. Borrowed vocabulary is estimated within a period of centuries, while dates of native vocabulary are not given. Only the distance back into the sub-branches under Austroasiatic can be approximately determined. The degree of certainty of the timing depends on available records, as discussed below.

Eras of Borrowing

Pre-Han Dynasty: Before 200 BCE
Han Dynasty: 200s BCE to 200s CE
Tang Dynasty: 700s to 1000s
Post-Tang Dynasty: 1000s to 1800s
Modern Era: Late-1800s to the present

Native Vietnamese Vocabulary from Austroasiatic Languages

1. Vietnamese
2. Proto-Viet-Muong
3. Proto-Vietic
4. Proto-Eastern-Mon-Khmer
5. Proto-North-Eastern-Mon-Khmer
6. Proto-Mon-Khmer
7. Proto-Austroasiatic

Austroasiatic consists of over 150 languages (Gordon) in a territory which extends from Southern China to the tip of peninsular Malaysia to Northeastern India. There is a wide range of perspectives among researchers (Diffloth 1989, Pejros 1998, and Shorto 2006) regarding subgrouping within the Mon-Khmer language group within Austroasiatic. The tentative subgrouping within Austroasiatic considered in this database, which includes Proto-Northeastern and Proto-Eastern Mon-Khmer based on the depth of lexical preservation and innovation, is described in Alves 2005b, though some modifications for specific words were made based on data in Shorto 2006.

Borrowed

Below are some examples for the criteria used to determine the degree of certainty.

1. Very little evidence for borrowing

A. Based on historical linguistic methodology, the phonological evidence is weak.
B. The semantic similarities are extremely tenuous.
C. The sociolinguistic conditions for the borrowing are not likely to have resulted into borrowing into Vietnamese.

2. Perhaps borrowed

A. Phonological similarity is present but lacks consistent patterns of correspondences and is possibly chance similarity.
B. Such words are similar to numerous forms seen throughout in East and Southeast Asia, making the question of borrowing versus connected by being related language impossible to answer based on existing data.

3. Probably borrowed

A. Regarding likely Chinese loanwords, including ancient Han dynasty borrowings and borrowings in Post-Tang Dynasty era, such words show consistent phonological and semantic patterns though they are not listed in Sino-Vietnamese dictionaries as Chinese in origin.
B. Regarding possible Tai loanwords, such words are considered likely borrowed due to the combination of consistent phonological and semantic patterns and the sociolinguistic situations in which the borrowings may have taken place.

4. Clearly borrowed

A. Thousand of words that are listed in Sino-Vietnamese dictionaries as Chinese in origin are accepted as such. Such records are the result of documentation spanning more than a millennium and can be considered highly reliable.
B. Other words in this category are words borrowed from French and/or English. These words are phonologically and semantically consistent. In addition, such forms can be considered clearly borrowed as they belong to recently introduced concepts and technology.

Borrowed base

Comments in this field are for words that contain both native and borrowed elements in ways that are likely the direct result of language contact with some awareness of the borrowed element as foreign.

Comment on borrowed

The comments in this field mainly refer to words of Chinese origin which are not literary borrowings entered in standard Sino-Vietnamese dictionaries. As these differ slightly from the phonological forms of the standard readings, the likely corresponding literary readings are provided for clarification and support for these as borrowed.

Reference

References for words of Chinese origin from Tang Dynasty era readings are not provided when such forms are readily indentified in standard Sino-Vietnamese dictionaries. For all other loanwords, references are provided.

Alves, Mark J. 2005a. Sino-Vietnamese grammatical vocabulary and triggers for grammaticalization. Hội Thảo Quốc Tế Ngôn Ngữ Học Liên Á Lần Thứ VI (The 6th Pan-Asiatic International Symposium on Linguistics). Hà Nội: Nhà Xuất Bản Khoa Học Xã Hội (Social Sciences Publishing House). 315-332.

Alves, Mark J. 2005b. The Vieto-Katuic hypothesis: lexical evidence. Edited by Paul Sidwell. SEALS XV: Papers from the 15th meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Pacific Linguistics: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Electronic Publication E-1, the Australian National University. 169-176.

Benedict, Paul K. 1947. An analysis of Annamese kinship terms. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 3: 371-390.
Diffloth, Gérard. 1989. Proto-Austroasiatic Creaky Voice. Mon-Khmer Studies 15:139-154.
Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.), 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/.

Ferlus, Michel. Proto-Vietic Reconstruction. Unpublished manuscript.

Lê, Ngọc Trụ. 1967. Việt-Ngữ Chánh-Tả Tự-Vị (xx) (2nd ed.). Saigon: Than-Tan.

Li, Fang Kuei. 1977. A Handbook of Comparative Tai. University Press of Hawaii.

Nguyễn, Tài Cẩn. 1995. Gíao trình lịch sử ngữ âm tiếng Việt (Textbook of Vietnamese historical phonology). Hà Nội: Nhà Xuất Bản Gíao Dục.

Nguyễn, Phú Phong. *1996. Negation in Vietnamese and in some of the Viet-Muong Languages. Pan-Asiatic Linguistics: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Languages and Linguistics, January 8-10, 1996, Vol. II: 563-568. Thailand: Mahidol University at Salaya, Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development.

Peiros, Ilia. 1998. Comparative Linguistics in Southeast Asia. Pacific Linguistics Series C-142. Canberra, Australian National University.

Shorto, Harry. 2006. A Mon-Khmer comparative dictionary. Edited by Paul Sidwell with Doug Cooper and Christian Bauer. Pacific Linguistics 579. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Wang, Li. 1958. Han-yu-shi Lun-wen-ji. Beijing: Ke-xue Chu-ban-she. 290-406.

Effect

Replacement: In the two instances of replacement (those for “head” and “liver”), a native etymon is known to have existed in Vietnamese.

Insertion: This category is indicated in situations in which the word corresponds to an introduced technology or concept.

Coexistence: This means that (a) another native word exists in Vietnamese and (b) the concept is less likely to be the result of cultural contact. Ultimately, this category represents a judgment rather than something that can be absolutely confirmed.

Salience

Present in pre-contact environment: Such words are presumed to have been part of life before contact between the ancestors of the Vietnamese and other groups whether or not words have remained in the language (e.g., “head”).

Present only since contact: Decisions for this entry are based on the likelihood of such concepts, typically culturally specific concepts or technologies, as being new to Vietnamese culture.

Abbreviations

Abbreviations were used little in the vocabulary. The use of “UNIT” in the morpheme-by-morpheme gloss refers to morphs that effectively nominalize the following verbal forms. ORDINAL is the morph that combines with numbers to indicate ordinals.

Parentheses mean common but not absolutely necessary.

Other information

Comments on Word Form (W5B)
This category consists of reconstructions from two sources: (a) the Proto-Austroasiatic reconstructions, or various sub-branches under Proto-Austroasiatic, taken from Shorto (2006) or (b) reconstructions of Proto-Vietic or Vietic sub-branches as posited by Ferlus.

Meaning (W6)
Meanings are either the same as those in the main entry or differ slightly with such differing meanings provided.

Morpheme-by-morpheme gloss (W8)

Morpheme-by-morpheme glosses are provided for all polysyllabic entries.