The hidden gems of the Vietnamese language

If you’re a bilingual or a multilingual person, then you’ve probably been in a situation when you know the exact word or phrase you need to express your emotions but it’s just not in the language you’re communicating in with your companion. You`re left searching for words and you probably continue by paraphrasing but you continue thinking about that one untranslatable word long after.

Today we are going to dive into the Vietnamese extraordinary vocabulary and meet you with some peculiar Vietnamese words that cannot be translated.

Bâng khuâng

Bang khuang is a special type of sadness, which you haven`t discovered the reason for. It is not a melancholy but rather a wholesome state of mind where you assess your surroundings – you are feeling under the weather, but you understand this is a normal human feeling and it will soon pass. If bang khuang has to be illustrated, it is the mood you`re in when you`re alone in the house, not having any special tasks to do and look out of the window, contemplating.

Kỳ diệu

This is one of the very peculiar Vietnamese words. If we have to translate it roughly, it has the sense of “wondrous” or “magical”. The word is an adjective but Vietnamese use it to describe those small miraculous moments when you discover something and share even the tiniest piece of happiness this thing brought with your loved ones.


Vietnamese wordsThương is a special word that Vietnamese use to show gentle affection towards their closed ones. This expression stays in the middle of the scale between “like” and “love” and is a very casual word to use when you want to tell somebody you`re fond of them. Thương is used in the family, when kids tell their parents they love them, or in friendships when you show your appreciation of the people you hold dear.

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đa đoan

This expression is an adjective used to describe people. The words đa đoan are the literal description of somebody who is constantly troubled and worried. Such people are always facing problems in every aspect of their lives – personal and social. What is interesting is that the word doesn`t mean the people create troubles for themselves but are accidentally finding themselves in such situations.

Xin lỗi

Translated from Vietnamese “lỗi” means a crime. Having this in mind, we should understand that Vietnamese use this phrase to apologize in situations they know they have offended somebody. What is peculiar, however, is that there is no equivalent of the respectful “excuse me”. As the English language and culture are getting mixed more and more in the everyday lives of young people, you can often hear them use xin lỗi when they are in a supermarket or when trying to make their way through a dense crowd.

Apart from meeting you with those exceptional Vietnamese words, with this article we also wanted to make you stop and think for a while about the vocabulary gems of your own language. It is the meaning of words that helps people get close and knowing this, we should cherish and respect every language out there, with all their little peculiarities.