by Lan Lan
The Vietnamese language has been developing very quickly along with the development of the country but many strange and complicated words and phrases being used by young people nowadays have altered the language, says Associate Professor Ha Quang Nang.
He agrees that the country's open doors also mean opening the mother tongue to new vocabulary through the borrowing and combining of words from other languages to create new words and phrases, which grows and modernises the language.
"The growing Vietnamese vocabulary has helped increase communication in the fields of economics, trade, and scientific research," says Nang, adding that these words make Vietnamese more meaningful.
However, apart from these new phrases, there are many others that have a vague meaning, or even mean absolutely nothing, in Vietnamese. "Some Vietnamese researchers have said our Vietnamese will face a crisis in our lifetime," says Nang.
He pointed out that many people fail to use the proper Vietnamese structure when speaking, or use many English words at schools or in daily life. Sometimes English words are paired with Vietnamese in advertisements.
Many shops hang billboards that are written half in Vietnamese and half in English, causing confusion among people, but more importantly, damaging Vietnamese, he says.
As a result, many young people don't really understand all of the Vietnamese words they read or say.
"The ‘disorder' and ‘pollution' of Vietnamese reflects the disrespect of the mother tongue which has caused a loss in our traditional, moral, philosophy and national cultural characteristics," says Nang.
In response to Nang's ideas, teacher Tran Quang Dai of the Tran Phu Secondary School in the central province of Ha Tinh says that to help the country's solid development and integration into the world, Vietnamese people should try their best to improve their Vietnamese and protect it.
Dai says he does his best to teach Vietnamese correctly and tries to encourage his students to improve their Vietnamese through their writing and speaking.
"All teachers should be ashamed to use complicated and nonsense Vietnamese words," says Dai.
His sister's family, who has been living in Germany for more than two decades, has tried their best to preserve Vietnamese at home.
Dai says his sister makes her entire family to speak Vietnamese at home and anywhere they socialise with other Vietnamese people.
"She often asks me to send her Vietnamese text books she can use to teach her children. She said we are Vietnamese so we should know how to speak Vietnamese," he says.
As a result, Nang's two nephews, aged 22 and 20, speak Vietnamese very well in addition to their German language skills.
"My parents are very proud of them and say that our Vietnamese origin will never be lost," he says.
President Ho Chi Minh once said "Vietnamese is our long-standing and invaluable national asset."
"Vietnamese is an important factor contributing to the nation's principle, national characteristics and cultural quintessence," he said.
The president always paid attention to preserving Vietnamese and educating people in speaking and writing Vietnamese and using a larger and more contemporary vocabulary.
Many teachers and linguistic researchers have followed the president's words. Teacher Hoang Xuan Tam, 70, is an example.
Despite having invested more than 50 years in researching and preserving Vietnamese, Tam said he is still an ‘illiterate' in Vietnamese because it is so comprehensive.
"I have to check the dictionary very carefully before teaching any new words to my students," said Tam.
When he was assigned to teach ethnic students in the northern province of Cao Bang, Tam had to learn the Tay language and then translate Vietnamese into Tay for his students to understand.
"One day I had to travel by foot for nearly 30km to reach one of my Tay student's homes in the high mountains to teach him Vietnamese because he was struggling with a long illness. In turn he taught me his Tay language.
"As a result of this work, my students know how to speak Vietnamese quicker than usual and I also understand the Tay language and the daily lives of the Tay ethnic people," says Tam.
He says he has collected more than 1,500 Tay folk songs to translate into Vietnamese in his nearly nine years teaching in Cao Bang. He also wrote more than 50 books on Vietnamese and ethnic languages.
Vietnamese researcher Nguyen Duy Xuan has launched the website nguyenduyxuan.net to call people to preserve the Vietnamese soul.
Site content aims to encourage people to exchange views on how to use Vietnamese correctly and effectively.
"I hope to receive effective responses from teachers, students and readers to contribute their ideas to protecting and preserving our Vietnamese," he says. — VNS