I’m a Vietnamese-American, born and raised in California — the state with the largest Vietnamese-American community. Vietnamese was my first language, and I did not learn English until I started school. My kindergarten teacher was upset at how little English I knew and how inept I was at reading. My father’s response to her was that he was not worried about me falling behind in English, but how I would forget Vietnamese — the tongue of my ancestors. And his concerns were justified, I caught up to my peers by the second grade and went on to take accelerated English classes. English is now my primary language, and the only language I feel confidently fluent in.
I can still carry on conversations in Vietnamese when discussing daily activities and what-not. But I get stumped when it comes to metaphorical and poetic language, and technical terms. So now, I am determined to not only master “Medical Nutrition Vietnamese”, but also to compile that knowledge into an open-source resource.
So let’s start with lesson one. What do my parents tell their friends am I studying? “Nutrition”. Yes, they actually say nutrition, because the average Vietnamese-American probably hears that the word nutrition more than the Vietnamese word, dinh dưỡng. And usually my parents explanations of what nutrition is will involving the words đồ ăn (food) and đồ uống (drinks).
Đồ can be translated to “thing”. So the verb to eat is ăn and the word for food (or thing to eat) is đồ ăn. Likewise, the verb to drink is uống, and the noun is đồ uống.