Your hemi-semi-weekly Vietnamese proverb


“Tèo cao, té nặng”: “the higher you climb, the greater you fall” (“climb high, fall heavy”). As lapidary as usual 🙂

Not much progress those past two weeks, other than listen to tapes (parents away on holiday). I can confirm my written comprehension is fairly good as long as we’re talking basics (asking people’s names, ordering in a restaurant, managing train tickets, etc.). However, oral comprehension still sucks (mostly, people are talking too fast for me to parse). Continuing my drills with the FSI tapes, and hoping that something clicks at some point.

In other sort-of-related language news, I finished Huỳnh Sanh Thông’s An Anthology of Vietnamese Poems, and his translation of Nguyễn Du’s The Tale of Kiều (Truyện Kiều), one of the major works of Vietnamese literature. Kiều was particularly interesting, because it’s a bilingual edition that’s heavily annotated, and it was really interesting to see the notes and compare with the text (not, you know, that I understood more than a few words here and there, but I could see some of how it was all pieced together). Huỳnh Sanh Thông’s scholarship is fairly impressive, and it’s full of fascinating tidbits (also very fascinating to see how the novel echoes the original Chinese work while clearly forging its own specific identity). Also, even though it’s a metaphor for scholars (the woman who doesn’t know who to entrust her fate to represents the scholars unsure of where their allegiances should lie), it’s really nice to have a woman main character in a tale. In many ways, it reminded me of Dream of Red Mansions;: the content is very different, but it’s also ostensibly focused on domesticity and the upheavals in daily lives in a way that the more martial novels aren’t.

Also, at some point I will post a report of the Bucharest event, once I have actually sat down and written it…


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