Using Chinese cognates to learn Vietnamese

I often go to Vietnam on business and this time decided to take a few basic lessons. I find I am using Chinese cognates to remember words. Do other Vietnamese learners, who already know a language with the same cognates, use the same approach instinctively?

I find the pronunciation challenging - the tones in particular - as they are not necessarily the same as the Mandarin ones, eg. a rising tone does not sound the same to me. Also the strange stops after words are difficult too. I am not sure if I shall persevere with this language after I return, although I must say the few things I did learn have been extremely rewarding upon application.

I was basically interested in acquiring some simple words and sentences to get by on.
Can anyone offer any learning experience of Vietnamese (time it takes to master tones and pronunciation so that people understand you and other challenges).

I’ve got nothing to add to this but it’s an interesting topic for me as I have wondered the same thing myself. (I’m planning on learning both of the languages)

Thanks for bringing it up Marianne!

Imyrtseshem - on the related issue of mneumonics and I mean just using cues to remember words (useful in the initial stages of learning for some type of learners), I am torn between which language to use for the mneumonic cues. For example if you are learning a word in your target that sounds similar to another word in any of the other languages you use. Sometimes you cannot find a similar sounding word in English but you may find one in German. I am not sure if this confuses the brain and whether you start doing too many unnecessary loops. Example: the preposition па in Russian sounds like the Danish or Swedish equivalent. If I were to use that cue (I do not know if this is a cognate) what happens if I then use another language for other words.
Does anyone else use such mneumonics for learning and do you cross over like that?

If a Dutch word sounds like an English word, I’ll guess what it could be. Often I’ll get this right and through seeing the vowel changes I’m guessing better and better as I go. When I see a word in French which I know in English, it’s usually very obvious (sometimes with a little semantic adjustment) and when I see a word in French which I first learned in Dutch but is original to French, it surprises me sometimes that it is French! This makes French that bit easier.

If the word reminds me of nothing… I don’t know what to do. I just lingq it and once I see it enough times, I remember it. :smiley: Some words are just memorable for some unknown reason.

For Hebrew, I have mostly no choice but to do this for the majority of words. 1/1000 words I recognise a word from Yiddish (and have to learn a new pronunciation). About the same ratio of words from English/international. (radio/telefon/otobus/etc)

So, no real special techniques unless you count looking up the occasional word for etymological information when something makes me think…

Memory works by association. So, the more links you make between different things (which are meaningful), the better, I believe.

Imyirtseshem - from what you are saying it does sound like you can work across languages. Any association is good as you say.

With Chinese is hard insofar a lot of words sound the same so often the association technique does not work. Shishi, shishi,shishi,shishi and shishi (the list is longer) all mean different things and it is only the tones that gives it away :slight_smile:

Marianne, I think the context is more important than the tones. But I agree that our ability to use these association or memory techniques, or our willingness to invest time in them, varies. I personally don’t do it, but I know that others do and find it useful.

I rely on the context, on interesting content, on lingqing phrases etc. and hope it all eventually sticks, which it usually does.

Yeah Marianne, I’m not sure what I’ll do when it comes to Chinese because words aren’t unique as often as they are in other most languages. I’ll have to wait and see, I guess. :slight_smile: