Solve This Mystery and Win a Free Dinner!


Hi,

This post is directed at people who can speak Vietnamese: I’ve been thinking about this language mystery a lot and haven’t found a good answer for it. You guys might think that this mystery is such a nonsense but as a language lover I can’t help wondering about it. Here’s the question:

I think Vietnamese is a gender-biased language with the preference of the masculine over the feminine. Men usually get to be mentioned first:  ông bà, bố mẹ,  thầy cô, anh chị em, etc.

But: what about cô chú ? Why is “cô” in front of “chú” ? What makes “cô chú” special?

I’m perfectly aware that there is no right answer for this but there might be some convincing theories out there. Show me your answer/theory by leaving a comment on this post or sending an email to ht.onair AT gmail DOT com. The deadline is 30/09/2012. Solve this mystery and get a free dinner with me.  In fact, I will come to your city and invite you to dinner in a restaurant of your choice!

I look forward to receiving your answers.

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2 thoughts on “Solve This Mystery and Win a Free Dinner!

  1. You forgot “vợ chồng”, which I think is more prominent than “cô chú”. 🙂

    As far as your question goes, I think it has something to do with the tune/melody of the phrase rather than order of importance. Like many styles of poetry (e.g. “thơ lục bát”) that follow the “luật bằng trắc”, the rising and lowering tones dictate the order of words so frequently-used phrases can roll off the tongue more smoothly.

    • Hi there,
      Thank you very much for this answer. You are right, ‘vo chong’ is definitely more common.I am not totally convinced by the melody theory though. I thought about it too before starting this ‘contest’ but as I repeatedly read the words out loud I kind of felt that things could be the other way around too. For example: ong ba seems to be more melodious but let’s say what would have happened if we had chosen’ ba ong’ from the very beginning. People might get used to it and it would be somewhat melodious too, don’t you think?For me it is more of a ‘the chicken or the egg’ dilemma. You know what I mean? Anyway, thanks again for the answer! It made me very happy. I will let you know if there are new theories out there until August.

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