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Lesson Transcript

Giang: Hi everyone! Welcome back to VietnamesePod101.com. Giang here!
Jason: And I’m Jason! This is Pronunciation, lesson 3, Vietnamese Tones. In the last two lessons, you learned how to pronounce the 17 native consonants and their compounds, 12 single vowels, and the 29 diphthongs that make up the Vietnamese language.

Lesson focus

Giang: That’s right, and in this lesson, we’re going to talk about the tones of words.
Jason: There are 6 tones in Vietnamese that we want to introduce.
Giang: Let’s jump right in.
Jason: First, the unmarked tone, or a mid level tone.You start at the middle of your normal voice range and remain the same.
Giang: This tone is called “ngang” in Vietnamese. For example – ăn cơm, which means “to have a meal” or “quê hương”, which means “hometown”. Again, ăn cơm and quê hương.
Jason: Secondly, the gradual falling tone. You start at a fairly low level and gradually lower your voice to the lowest level.
Giang: This tone is called “huyền”. For example, “nhà hàng” which means “restaurant” or “phàn nàn” which means “to complain”. Again – nhà hàng and phàn nàn.
Jason: Thirdly, the high rising tone.You start at the middle level of your voice range then raise your voice to the highest.
Giang: This tone is called “sắc”. For example “mất tích” which means “missing” or “khóc lóc” which means “cry and cry”. Again–mất tích and khóc lóc.
Jason: Now, the fourth tone the mid-dipping falling tone. You begin at the middle of your voice and lower it quickly.
Giang: This tone is called “hỏi”. For example, bỏ dở which means “to quit in the middle of doing something” and củ tỏi which means “garlic”. Again bỏ dở and củ tỏi.
Jason: The next one is the broken rising tone. Start just a little above the normal voice range, dip down a bit then raise it suddenly.
Giang: This tone is caled “ngã”. For example ngã rẽ which means “a turn in the road” and mẫu mã which means “a model”, usually of a product. Again ngã rẽ and mẫu mã.
Jason: And finally, the heavy falling tone. Start just a little below the middle range, then fall immediately and suddenly to the lowest level. You’ll feel the constriction of the glottis when your voice falls suddenly. Try pronouncing this tone while gradually lowering your head as if you are nodding suddenly
Giang: This tone is called “nặng”. For example “học tập” which means “study” in general and “ục ịch” which means “being too fat to move normally”. Again, học tập and ục ịch.
Jason: Now, let’s practice saying words with different tones at the same time.
Giang: Firstly, combine mid level - gradual falling tone con gà which means “a chicken” and “ông bà” which means “grandparents”
Jason: Secondly, gradual falling and high rising tones.
Giang: màu sắc which means “colors in general” and “nhiều quá” which means “too much”.
Jason: Next, high-rising tone and dipping falling tone
Giang: trái phải which means left and right and “tá lả”, a Vietnamese way of playing cards.
Jason: Then dipping falling tone and broken rising tone.
Giang: “giải mã” which means “to decode” and “bản vẽ” which means “a drawing”.
Jason: Finally, broken rising and heavy falling tones
Giang: “dã ngoại” which means “a picnic” and “xã hội” which means “society”


Jason: Ok. Well, that’s everything for this lesson. Now you should have a good overall picture of the Vietnamese word structure and sound system.
Giang: Make sure you take a good look at our lesson notes, because that will help you remember better.
Jason: Also check out the lesson notes for information on the tripthongs, which we weren’t able to cover here. We’ll see you again in the next lesson about regional variation of Vietnamese pronunciation.
Giang: Tạm biệt!