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

  1. Stephanie 6 May, 2013 at 11:12 Reply

    How do you pronounce “chuc binh an”? There is an accent mark over the “u” in “chuc” and over the “i” in “binh”. I am trying to say “Peace be with you” during a Catholic Mass.

  2. Cuong 11 May, 2013 at 13:35 Reply

    @Stephanie: You can find the audio for “Chúc bình an” in #14 above. “Chúc bình an” literally means to wish someone to be safe and sound, or to be at peace and be secured. This works great especially when someone is going on a long trip. “Peace be with you” is also fine as a translation.

    Alternatively, “Chúc bình yên” might work better if your context is a Catholic Mass. “Bình an” has the word “an” in it which is a part of “an-toàn” meaning safe and secure, or it could be “an-tâm” which leans more toward the soul or spirit because of the word “tâm” (pronounced “tum” as in tummy.) When you use yên (as in “bình yên” or “yên tâm”, “yên” itself means at rest or unmoved or relaxed) you can be sure that you are referring to the soul being at peace or being secure.

    Sorry for the long winding explanation. Hope this helps.

  3. Debra 11 May, 2013 at 15:42 Reply

    Thanks Cuong! My mom now that I am in my late 30s call me Ba’ naw (sounds like small in Vietnamese) Funny how we called everyone. I grew up here but my brothers didn’t make it here until I was 15. My dad was an American he wasn’t in the war he was in WWII so he was working as military contract electrician. He stayed there so long my brothers who didn’t know their fathers claimed him. Two still live there. I also find it funny that when my husband comes with me to my brother’s house my sister in law is always waiting on him or trying to feed him. My daughter calls our closest friends Aunt and Uncle. I still even as an adult call my American aunts/uncles Aunt Sally etc and not just Sally. I totally appreciate your time!

  4. Cuong 11 May, 2013 at 17:00 Reply

    @Debra: I really enjoy hearing your story. It is true most everywhere you go in Asia, and I would guess the Middle East and even Africa and South America, that offering/sharing food or a meal is still a sign of family, friendship, trust, etc. between any two or more persons. It is a sign of caring and respect. Sharing a meal is a very strong tie that binds social creatures. And I hope the younger generations will continue the aunt/uncle thing. It provides a much more personal meaning to the relationship. You rock.

  5. Amir 24 December, 2013 at 13:16 Reply

    Hi Caroline or anyone else that can help

    I’m doing the same play and was wondering if you found out the correct pronunciation for:

    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

    Thanks

  6. Cuong 25 December, 2013 at 14:06 Reply

    @Amir: Thanks for your question. As I’ve replied to Caroline, only the first 3 are Vietnamese, and pronunciations for those have been provided in numbers 4, 5 and 6 above. The rest are not Vietnamese so I cannot help you here. Hope you find what you need.

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