A Mini-Vietnamese Writing Demonstration from my Mom

I’m a bad Vietnamese girl and do not know how to read or write in Vietnamese. I was telling my mom about how I was talking to Kym (who is a literate Viet), about how Anthony Bourdain seems so carefree and in love with life. What really captured what I was trying to say is this Vietnamese phrase that directly translates to “in love with life” (but it means so much more than just that). I was having a hard time communicating to her the phrase so I tried to phonetically sound it out for her. However, it didn’t quite land. Here’s the snippet of our conversation.

Kym: what vietnamese phrase?
me: um
i cant spell it but it directly translates to “in love with life”?
Kym: oh man. i don’t know
me: ew duh
Kym: i’ll have to ask my parents now
me: like “love world”
Kym: i want to know
me: love life
me: its suppose to mean like a personality trait. someone. who is enamoured with life/full of life, dreamy
Kym: i think it might be yêu dời.

I shamefully told my mom about this conversation. She was so embarrassed by her daughter, she gave me a mini lesson right then and there. She demonstrated what all the little accents and squigglies do to pronunciation. A common assumption is that all Asian languages are comprised of funky characters instead of script, but Vietnamese is actually all script, save the accents and “squigglies.”

I totally would have taken a class in college but UT didn’t offer the classes til after I graduated!