Pronunciation of Pho and Other Vietnamese Words and Phrases, Part 2

Updated 01-08-18. This is Part 2 of a multi-part article on the pronunciation of Vietnamese phrases and words. The very popular Part 1 is closed to requests but has more than 50 audios you can listen too. If you have a request please check there first as someone else may have requested it already. Follow this link to find Part 1 of Pronunciation of Pho and Other Vietnamese Words and Phrases.

Banh pho line 18I know there are folks out there who are looking for help with pronunciation of Vietnamese words and phrases, and are looking for accurate and easy to understand guidance and reference on how to properly pronounce certain words in Vietnamese. This post, which is Part 2 of this series, aims to help you with exactly what a word or phrase should sound like, in both Northern and Southern Vietnamese accents when appropriate.

Have a Vietnamese word or phrase you'd like to hear? Here's what you do: Leave a comment to this post with the word(s) you would like to hear pronounced, and I'll post a response with audio files demonstrating exactly how they should sound. Please include as much information about the words as you can, with maybe the context you found them in, their meanings (if you know), or where you encountered them. This is because with proper accent marks the same looking words may have different pronunciation and meanings altogether. This will help me say them correctly for you. This site is about pho first and foremost, but I'll post answers to whatever inquiry received.

If you're looking for more specific pronunciation, check out these posts:

A single sound can sometime confuse you even more than no sound at all. Therefore, I'm also providing full sentences to demonstrate how the words/phrases should really sound in everyday conversation. You should be able to recognize these sounds in both English and Vietnamese conversational sentences. I'll start with something requested by Luis from the last comment from Part 1.

  1. Pronounce: "Người Rừng" which literally means "jungle people."
    • Southern accent (twice, slower then faster) then Northern (twice.)
      Người Rừng.     
  2. Pronounce the lady's name: "Nguyệt."
    • Southern accent then Northern.
      Nguyệt.     
  3. Pronounce: "Tôi nấu ăn cho gia đình tôi" which means "I cook for my family."
    • Southern accent then Northern.
      Tôi nấu ăn cho gia đình tôi.     
  4. Pronounce: "Bún chả giò chay" which means "Vermicelli noodles with Vegetarian Spring rolls."
    • Southern accent then Northern.
      Bún chả giò chay.     
  5. Pronounce: "Heo xào xả ớt" which means "Pork sautéed in Hot and Spicy Lemongrass."
    • Southern accent then Northern.
      Heo xào xả ớt.     
  6. Pronounce: "Bò xào xả ớt" which means "Beef sautéed in Hot and Spicy Lemongrass."
    • Southern accent then Northern.
      Bò xào xả ớt.     
  7. Pronounce: "nước mắm" which means "fish sauce."
    • Southern similar to Northern, slow then faster.
      Nước mắm.     
  8. Pronounce: "con chó, con mèo, con khỉ" which means "the dog, the cat, the monkey."
    • Southern accent then Northern.
      Con chó - con mèo - con khỉ.     
  9. Pronounce: "Thiên Chúa của tôi" which means "my God"; Thiên Chúa is God, and của tôi is my or of mine.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Thiên Chúa của tôi.     
  10. Pronounce: "nước mía" which means "sugar juice."
    • Southern and Northern accents similar, repeated twice, slower then faster.
      Nước mía.     
  11. Pronounce: "soda xí muội" which means "salty plum with soda drink," also with sugar for sweetness.
    • Southern and Northern accents similar, repeated twice, slower then faster.
      Soda xí muội.     
  12. Pronounce: "bún bò nướng sả" which means "grilled lemongrass beef with vermicelli noodle."
    • Southern then Northern accent, each twice, slower then faster.
      Bún bò nướng sả.     
  13. Pronounce: "tô nhỏ, tô lớn" which means "small bowl, large bowl."
    • Southern then Northern accent, each twice.
      Tô nhỏ - tô lớn.     
  14. Pronounce: "chúc bình an" which means to wish someone to be safe and sound, to be at peace and secured.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Chúc bình an.     
  15. Pronounce: counting from 1 to 10 in Vietnamese; 1-một, 2-hai, 3-ba, 4-bốn, 5-năm, 6-sáu, 7-bẩy, 8-tám, 9-chín, 10-mười.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Counting from 1 to 10 in Vietnamese.     
  16. Pronounce: "cho một (1) tô phở bò, cho hai (2) tô phở bò, cho ba (3) tô phở bò," which means to order 1, 2, or 3 bowls of beef pho, respectively.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Ordering 1-2 or 3 bowls of beef pho.     
  17. Pronounce: "bún riêu" which means rice vermicelli usually served with tomato broth with crab or shrimp paste.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Bún riêu.     
  18. Pronounce: "Huỳnh Thị Thu Hằng" which is a female name.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Huỳnh Thị Thu Hằng.     
  19. Pronounce: "Ninh Đức Hoàng Long" which is a male name.
    • Southern then Northern accent.
      Ninh Đức Hoàng Long.     
  20. Pronounce: "Ba cô gái" which means "Three Girls" or "Three Ladies" as in rice paper brand "Ba Cô Gái".
    • Southern and Northern accents similar.
      Ba cô gái.     
  21. Pronounce: "Tú" which is a name of a male person.
    • Southern and Northern accents similar.
      Tú.     
  22. Pronounce: "Vân" which is a name of a female person, and literal translation is "cloud".
    • Southern and Northern accents, each twice.
      Vân.     
  23. Pronounce: "Bánh ít trần" or just "Bánh ít" which is a small stuffed glutinous rice flour balls or dumpling.
    • Southern and Northern accents, each twice.
      Bánh ít trần.     
  24. Pronounce: "Chúc Anh Chị một trăm năm hạnh phúc!" (Wishing you 100 years of happiness!) or just "Chúc Anh Chị một trăm năm hạnh phúc!".
    • Southern then Northern accents.
      Chúc Anh Chị một trăm năm hạnh phúc!     
    • Better way to say it. Southern then Northern accents.
      Chúc Anh Chị trăm năm hạnh phúc!     
  25. Pronounce: "Cửa Việt". Cửa means "door" or "entrance" depending on how it's used. Cửa Việt is the firth of a river in north of Quảng Trị province in central Vietnam, where a former U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base were located.
    • Southern then Northern accents.
      Cửa Việt.     
  26. Pronounce: "Kỳ Hà", a place in the town of Kỳ Anh, Hà Tĩnh province on the North Central Coast of Vietnam.
    • Normal rate then slower.
      Kỳ Hà.     

46 comments

    • dick crawford 23 March, 2016 at 10:06 Reply

      How do you pronounce: “Chuc Anh Chi mot tram nam hanh phuc!” (Wishing you 100 years of happiness!)
      I am to attend a wedding and understand that this is an appropriate expression of good wishes.

      • Cuong 24 March, 2016 at 20:13 Reply

        @Dick Crawford: Thanks for your request. You can find pronunciation of Chúc Anh Chị một trăm năm hạnh phúc! in #24 above.

        I would suggest leaving out the word một and instead just say “Chúc Anh Chị trăm năm hạnh phúc!” which sounds much more natural. Vietnamese just don’t say “one hundred years” as in Chúc Anh Chị một trăm năm hạnh phúc! It’s better to say hundreds of years or many years by dropping the một.

        Hope this helps.

  1. Cuong 25 September, 2011 at 19:25 Reply

    Unule: That’s a tough one 🙂 In the old days, and even now in many places, you don’t ask a girl to marry you. Everything is arranged for you by your parents. Easy! As far as I know, there isn’t a formal way for a boy to propose to a girl. Our culture is such that if you go out, you are expected to become husband and wife. Yes even today! And for Vietnamese, by the time you feel you are ready for marriage, then you both would know, wouldn’t you?? And the matter is really handled very privately, not like what they show in the movies. Now asking a girl to marry you is more of a Western way anyway, so the younger generation is more open to this. Sounds like I’m dodging your question, but the reality is … hmm there isn’t a way that I can think of to say this in Vietnamese. If I translate the Western words into Vietnamese, it would sound very funny and out of place. Hope someone else reading this can help me out here, lol. If you do it the Western way and in English, it will be more romantic I think.

    Now do you have a question about pho?

  2. Craig 7 October, 2011 at 19:12 Reply

    Hello,

    How do you say, “May I have a refill on my drink?” and something like, “I am drinking”…iced tea, water, coke or whatever I’m drinking.

    Thanks!

  3. caroline 9 October, 2011 at 13:42 Reply

    HI! i need help, very urgent!!! i hope you can help 😉
    i would need this in audio files, cause i work at the theatre and we are playing a piece which includes a lot of vietnamese dishes…
    but as we dunno how to pronounce it the right way, i hope you can help me with the following:

    bun chao gio chay

    heo xao xa ot

    bo xao xa ot

    sate

    bao-zi

    bami pat

    bami goreng

    gai grob prio wan

    phad med mamoang nüah

    pa pra

    gaeng kiau wang pag

    pat thai gai

    su ko ya ki

    thannnnks so much

  4. Cuong 16 October, 2011 at 20:56 Reply

    Hi caroline: Of the many words you requested, only the first 3 are Vietnamese. The 4th, sate, really comes from satay from Indonesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satay). The first request is probably “Bún chả giò chay” which means “Vermicelli noodles with Vegetarian Spring rolls,” not bun chao gio chay (without the letter o.) All three can be heard in numbers 4, 5 and 6 above. Sorry I can’t help you with the rest.

  5. Mina 17 October, 2011 at 19:46 Reply

    Hello,

    How would you say and pronounce “Aunt” in Vietnamese? I want to surprise my mother’s sister by calling her Aunt in her native language 🙂

  6. Cuong 20 October, 2011 at 08:06 Reply

    Hi Mina: The word “Aunt” in Vietnamese depends on if the aunt is older or younger than your mother, or father, and where (what region) they live and/or are from. It could be “bác” for older, “cô” for younger, or could also be “dì” in many places in the South. So some clarification can help. Also it is considered rude to address your aunt by name, so instead you may want to address her as “Third Aunt” or “Fourth Aunt” depending on where she is in sequence with her siblings.

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