Homographs (words that spell the same but with different meaning, i.e. ‘bat’ as a winged creature often associated with vampires vs ‘bat’ the sport equipment used in basball) is a fun feature of every language and Vietnamese is no exception. We remember poring over our grammer exercises picking out the different meanings of each homographic word, wondering what good use it would do us when we grow up. Good times.
Well, if you grow up to be a vacation home host who loves doling our language tips for out-of-town travelers, those lessons in homographs paid off. We’ve been sharing those words with guests over the past two years as after-dinner-fun and below are their 5 favorites Vietnamese fruit punches:
Exhibit #1: Dâu – The fruit vs the daughter-in-law
Example: Dâu nhà tôi thích ăn dâu (my daughter-in-law loves strawberries).
Exhibit #2: Bơ – the avocado vs unamused or oblivious
Example: Mình vẫy chào thế mà nó cứ bơ mình – I waved at him like crazy but he’s totally oblivious.
Exhibit 3: Chuối – the fruit vs that sucks
Examble: Vụ ấy chuối lắm, đừng dính vào! – The whole thing sucks, don’t get involoved!
Exhibit 4: Mít ướt -the fruit vs quick to cry
Example: Bọn mít ướt! – You guys are quick to cry!
And last but not least – the traditional five fruit displayed every Lunar New Year that literally translates into “wishing for just enough good things to enjoy” – Cầu (short for soursop – mãng cầu also meaning wish/hope for); thơm (pineapple – also all good things); dừa (coconut – also same as just); đủ (short for đu đủ – papaya, also meaning enough) and xài (mango – in local southern dialect also means to enjoy).
Got more examples? Share with us in the comment section!