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A corpus-based approach and analysis of teen language in Vietnam nowadays

Author: Trần Thị Mai Đào

Applying corpus-based approach to study teen language (TL) in the process of international integration in Vietnam is necessary and urgent. Especially in the current period, the Vietnamese language (VL) being used by the majority of teenagers is a matter of controversy. When texting, chatting, speaking or participating in online forums, they use VL without tone marks or marks such as: ˘ , ˆ, …(Ban that la dam dang!...), write with the changes of words, letters (The la cau hem bit roai, hihi, hay là: Th3 l4 k4u h3m pjt r04j, hyhy, hay là: ThE^ lA` kA^.u hEm pYt r0A`j nhA, hYhY, …), use of English Vietnamese language (style --> tin, tyn, xì tyn, xì teen, hay … xì ten, (Professional -->prồ, prô, pzo, pzo …), use some English words when speaking VL with Vietnamese friends (Hi mọi người! Mình là abc,xyz, mình rất vui được làm quen với everybody. Mình đang study ở abcxyz High School. Mình rất confident trong các extracurricular activities. Hiện nay mình đang cope up with chương trình học rất killer của trường… Nhưng mình tin với capacity của mình, mình sẽ hoàn thành completely cái syllabus đó), use words like idioms which collected, listed andillustrated in the book “Sát thủ đầu mưng mủ” by Thanh Phong (published by Nha Nam Co. & Fine Art Publishing House).

Language of Vietnamese Teen In this article the author presents some features of TL and initial corpus of TL on the basis of data collected from forums on the internet. This promotes the advantages of linguistic corpus in studying the development and change of VL in the current stage of integration.

 1. Introduction

Currently, most of teenagers are using VL with changes in letters, words and without marks and tone marks when writing messages, chatting, participating in online forums. They often write and speak with some English words in Vietnamese text and like using words such as idioms or we call them teen slangs.

The using VL in the period of integration and information technology boom as presented above is a normal language phenomenon. However, to make surveys, study impacts, or explain the causes and consequences of this phenomenon for TL in the view of sociology, psychology, culture, society, ... are necessary. Thus, the immediate need to gather, store this type of language is the basis for conducting further researches.

In the languages of the world, particularly in English, there has had deformation phenomena created and used by the vast majority of teenagers. Some of these language phenomena associated with the advent of computers and mobile phones. This phenomenon has been concerned by many researchers, for example, Sali A. Tagliamonte and Derek Denis (University of Toronto) researched on instant messaging/IM and TL, Martin Howard (Department of French, University College, Cork, Ireland) studied of language variation of social linguistics and second language acquisition, Naomi S. Baron (American University) researched on gender issues and the instant message of teenagers, project COLT (The Bergen Corpus of London Teenage Language) (Department of English, University of Bergen, Norway) studied natural TL to examine changes in the development and transformation of the language, ... Along with this phenomenon, some different slang dictionaries, softwares to decode the language changes ... have been published. The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary has announced the addition of some IT words in English.

For VL, we have seen the emergence of the phenomenon using the @ language or TL. Most of the linguists agree that this is a normal language phenomenon. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Van Khang said about the VL of netizens that there is the existence of social groups, then there must be “the language of those social groups”. The appearance of netizens means appearance of netizens’ language as well. Dr. Mai Xuan Huy also recognized that this is a language phenomenon so it should be viewed objectively as a rule of society and of the language. Social changes also make the language changes. Prof. Dr. Tran Tri Doi said that language is a social phenomenon, it is always the same social development. The phenomenon of "chat language" and the "fixed words" as in the book “Sát thủ đầu mưng mủ” is shown as the ongoing development of the language among the masses, including those young.

But there is not a comprehensive study of this phenomenon in VL. On the basis of scientific research, further specific research studies must be implemented such as to build Vietnamese keyboard for typing on the computer, or to write off, or to update frequency words in TL to Vietnamese dictionary, etc. Therefore the first thing to do, for us, is to conduct research to determine characteristics, thereby gradually build corpus of TL in VL.

 2. Some Features of Vietnamese Teen Language

2.1. Writing Vietnamese Language without Marks or Tone Marks and with Changes in Letters and Words

With instruction of Dr. Le Viet Dung (Department of French, the University of Da Nang), Nguyen Dam Thanh Trang, Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy and Nguyen Thi Thu Hang was conducted "Study the effects of @ language to Vietnamese language”. They made a survey about the influence of @ language/teen language on the use of VL of students in class 11A1 at Le Quy Don High School, and students in class 10TN11, Phan Chau Trinh High School (Danang City). The research results show that there are four groups of changes in the current TL:

Addition: add some new letters into words to make new sounds. For example: vui = dzui, thôi = thoai, về = dzìa, …

The result shows that 93.1% of those surveyed know this addition and 71.4% of survey students tend to use this addition.

Subtraction: deform or cut down letters in words to make new words with almost the same sound. For example: biết = bít, viết = vít, buồn = bùn, …

The research results showed that 79.3% of students participated in the survey know the subtraction and 79% of them regularly use the subtraction to chat, post blogs, join forums, …

Substitution: There are two forms:

- Replacement component of words: replace a letter by another letter in the word. For example: Bé = pé, thôi = thui,…

- Replacement the whole words: replace one word by a completely different word.

For example: không = hẻm, gì = j,…

There are about 65.5% of students know the substitution and 36.7% of them use it to chat, post blogs, join forums, …

Encode: write numbers next to letters in words. For example: G92U (Good night to you), 9wk (nice weekends), 2day (today), 2nite (tonight), …

(According to the Report Selection "Student Conference for Scientific Research" 6 th, pp.270-274, the University of Danang, 2008.)

2.2. Writing (and Speaking) with Some English Words in Vietnamese Text

After investigating the use of English words on a number of newspapers/magazines for young people such as Hoa Hoc Tro (HHT, Weekly Magazine for Students), Thieu Nien Tien Phong (Magazine for Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneers), ... from January 2008 to December 2008 we collected some English words used in Vietnemese text in some topics, such as: IT words ( 66 items), music, fashion, movie words (68 items), others (others 1,related to food, clothing, …(25 items) and others 2, related to everyday language (103 items). Moreover, we noticed the following remarks:

Remark 1

The English words are used in a number of relatively new topics such as information technology, music, film, fashion, and a number of other everyday topics. Sometimes the terms are used to mean many different features: save, show, single, hot, mix…

The English words are used original form: send, friend, copy, ... a few are transcribed Vietnamese: xì tin, chát, …

Remark 2

- The English words are used in bare infinitive form:

E.g.1.“…đa số các bài báo được copy + paste từ các nguồn khác nhau.” [HHT, 779]

E.g.2.“…chỉ chăm chăm học ngữ pháp, còn từ vựng và luyện nghe …, thôi “say goodbye nhé” [HHT, 779]

- The English words are used in non-prototype (past, present participle):

E.g.3.“…là cô Sheryl – giáo viên dạy tiếng Anh trong trường, cực kỳ khó tính và cho học sinh “failed” là chuyện bình thường.” [HHT, 779]

E.g.4.“Thế hệ của những công dân teen đang tự training …” [HHT, 775]

E.g.5.“Giờ thì chả cần đi đâu xa, cả lũ có thể tụ tập trong phòng tớ, posing điên đảo và tận hưởng tác phẩm đầu tay của mình.” [HHT, 784]

Remark 3

The English words are used with Vietnamese identifiers:

E.g.6.“Chúng tôi chọn một góc khuất trong canteen, hai chai nước ngọt và một gói snack.” [HHT, 776]

E.g.7.“Còn với áo T-shirt khoẻ khoắn và quần bò ngang gối, chúng ta đã gắn thêm một em “cá” cho tính cách của mình …” [HHT, 776]

E.g.8.“Áo babydoll đơn giản, quần jeans đơn giản, giày cũng đơn giản, …” [HHT, 784]

E.g.9.“Zoom vào một quyển day-runner của một teen part-time-er nổi tiếng, tớ tí nữa thì choáng ngất trước cái bảng thu chi của nàng.” [HHT, 776]

E.g.10.“Máy tính laptop thời trang, kích thước nhỏ, mỏng, giá cả hợp lý dành cho học sinh.” [HHT, 776]

E.g.11.“Bù lại thì bạn ý học được cách pha chế đồ uống cực ngon, được nói tiếng Anh với người nước ngoài miễn phí, đã thế còn rủng rỉnh tiền tip, …” [HHT, 776]

E.g.12.“H. Như, 17 tuổi, đang làm phục vụ ở quầy bar của khách sạn, khá là vất vả.” [HHT, 776]

Remark 4

English Words are used in the plural.

E.g.13.“Phiên bản mới này có giao diện đẹp hơn và có nhiều tính năng mới tiện ích cho các members, hứa hẹn sẽ là một diễn đàn cực vui.” [HHT, 776]

Remark 5

The English words are are used with the explanation in Vietnamese.

E.g.14.“Đầu tiên là những TV series dạng “reality”: tức là những show truyền hình làm về đời sống thật.” [HHT, 777]

E.g.15.“Trò “cashflow” (teen Việt cũng gọi là “dòng kim lưu”) đang thuộc dạng “hot” nên tớ hạ quyết tâm phải nhờ mua cho kì được, để “lên level” đời sống game của teen Việt” [HHT, 774]

E.g.16.“Lỗi là tại tớ, tớ đã xài hack cash (tiền bất chính). [HHT, 773]

E.g.17.“Làm một leader (người lãnh đạo) chẳng bao giờ dễ dàng.” [HHT, 773]

E.g.18.“Regulator (hộp tự thở) giúp bạn thở thoải mái như trên cạn.” [HHT, 760]

Remark 6

The English words are used to verify the Vietnamese translation of that English word.

E.g.19.“Phần thích nhất của cheer là chồng tháp (pyramid).” [HHT, 780]

E.g.20.“Cheer cùng chia làm các nhóm: Nhóm làm trụ (bases), nhóm lên tháp (flyers) và nhóm thực hiện động tác quay và lộn.” [HHT, 780]

Remark 7

Some English words are used with the new meaning (change in part of speech). E.g. "Teen" in English can be explained as follows: teenager (noun), is teen (US), which means people aged 13 to 19; adolescents [pp. 1849, English-Vietnamese Dictionary, Institute of Linguistics]; “teens” (n,pl) the age of 13 to 19: girls in their ~, between their ages of 13 and 19 inclusive. She’s still in/not yet out of her ~, is under 20. Teenage (adj) of or for a ~ager: ~age fashions/problems. Teenager (n) boy or girl in his or her ~, (loosely) young person up to 21 or 22 years of age: a club for teenagers. [pp.887, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, A.S.Hornby, OUP, 1974].

E.g.21.“Từ mới được teen Việt sáng tạo ra hàng ngày và với những lý lẽ của riêng teen.” [HHT, 736] And the part of speech of “teen” has been changed.

E.g.22.“Chúng tớ đã “cả gan” gạch đầu dòng những “gương mặt” tiêu biểu và nổi trội của năm 2007 dựa trên tính mới mẻ, hay ho, rất teen và đủ tiêu chuẩn để bước vào từ điển.”[HHT, 736]

In Vietnamese language, "very" likely to emphasize adjectives: rất đẹp, rất béo, rất chăm, … The ability to emphasize " rất teen" in the example (22) can be understood "teen" as an adjective of character and nature.

Above are 7 remarks about using English words in Vietnamese text in some magazines for teenagers.

[According to "Using English in some Vietnamese magazines for teenagers", Tran Thi Mai Dao, Journal of Language and Life, No.10 in 2009].

2.3. Using Teen Slangs

Discusing about the using of words, phrases such as idioms or teen slangs which artist Thanh Phong was collected, listed and illustrated in the book “Sát thủ đầu mưng mủ” (published by Nha Nam Co. & Fine Arts Publishing House ) there are some following ideas.

Nguyen Duc Dan: The slangs in this book have not reached the standard idiom. Number of meaningful and creative slangs, such as: “Đã siđa còn xông pha hiến máu”, are very rare. They imitate many idioms, proverbs in literally way, mostly meaningless, mainly to make more amusing. Then there are some slangs make unconscious or hurt to others, such as: “Bộ đội phải chơi trội”; “Hận đời cắt tóc đi tu, nghĩ đi nghĩ lại đi tù sướng hơn”. In general, they are the "ranh ngon" for teens.

Tran Tri Doi has said: “The language is a social phenomenon, it always has development as the social development. The “chat language” and “fixed speech” in the book as “Sát thủ đầu mưng mủ” are shown the ongoing development of the language in public, including those young. According to him: “The way to create the “fixed speech” as in “Sát thủ đầu mưng mủ” is not strange to VL ... The very nature of the VL allows to create “fixed speech” as in “Sát thủ đầu mưng mủ” but there must not be anything new there. So if denied making speech by habit (and then become fixed) it will not find out the ability to producewords in VL.

The author of the book, Thanh Phong, said that this is the book of stylish expression collection of young people through paintings. He told the truth with readers in the humorous introduction: “... you flip the book in your hand with curiosity, and wondering what kind of book it is… with “thoải con gà mái”, “bét nhè con gà què”, ... with “cướp trên giàn mướp”, “ngất trên cành quất” ... Oh, it is great handbook illustrated by idioms for “young people”…

 3.Some Suggestions in Building Corpus for Teen Language

The reviews above are presented from our research results, study of our colleagues and the views of the language experts on some teen language phenomena in Vietnam. To conduct more thorough research on this phenomenon we suggest to build corpus based on the features presented. They are divided into three corpus groups and designed on the website: www.wikispaces.com with the wiki named “teenlanguage” in August 2012 so that we can edit, update and share the corpus about Vietnamese teen language.

3.1. Corpus 1: Writing Vietnamese Language without Marks or Tone Marks and with Changes in Letters and Words

Table 1.1. The First Consonants (26 items)

Table 1.2. The Last Consonants (8 items)

Table 1.3. The Vowels (20 items)

3.2. Corpus 2: Writing with Some English Words in Vietnamese Text

Table 2.1. IT Words (66 items)

Table 2.2. Music, Fashion, Movie Words (68 items)

Table 2.3. Others

Table 2.3.1. Others 1, related to food, clothing, …(25 items)

Table 2.3.1. Others 2, related to everyday language (103 items)

3.3. Corpus 3: Using Teen Slangs

Table 3. Teen slangs (112 items)

 4. Conclusion

This article has just proposed building corpus of teen language phenomena in Vietnam. The author wishes to receive the opinions of experts and colleagues.

References

  1. Crystal, David. 2006. Language and the Internet. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ.Press.
  2. Dao Hong Thu. 2009. Corpus Linguistics and Issues (V.1), Social Science Publishing House, Hanoi, 2009.
  3. Kenedy G. 1998. An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics. London: Longman.
  4. Sinclair J. 1991. Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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