The portmanteau Vietglish refers to the combination of specific aspects belonging to both the Vietnamese language and the English language in particular ways, of which this paper will focus on two divisions. The first is a combination of English words in the day-to-day Vietnamese communication, signifying a lack of correct vocabulary. The speaker usually maintains the Vietnamese accents to keep the conversation mainly in Vietnamese, despite the difficulties that they have to deal with finding the lexicon needed. The other is the “incomplete” formation of Vietnamese conversation, mixing in English grammatical structures, making each sentence sound less “natural” to the mainland’s standard. Its existence was not very well-documented in comparison to the many similar counterparts, usually Western ones, like Spanglish (the mixture of Spanish and English) and Franglais (the mixture of French and English). However, there is one similarity that it shares with Spanglish—that is the reluctant acceptance, mostly tolerance and some hatred and demand for reverting back to the monolingual dialect, towards such a speech mixture. In the case for Vietglish, via online newspaper, blog forums, and the popular social media—Facebook, this blatant hatred comes from Vietnamese mainlanders who claim to protect the “sacred” language and those who claim it is a notion of an attack coming from the more educated—apparently to make those who are Vietnamese monolingual to be of great stupidity. I would like to argue against both these claims, stating that Vietglish is not a detriment to the Vietnamese language, nor is it an attack from the educated to put Vietnam in a state of neo-colonialism. Vietglish is a result of the nature of language learning, specifically on the incomplete acquisition aspect. I would also expand that Vietglish is relevant to the discussion of Orality, Literacy, and Illiteracy, based on the applications made from theoretical readings, like Walter Ong’s Orality and Literacy, Graham Furniss’s Orality: The Power of the Spoken Word, Abraham Acosta’s Orality and Literacy in Latin America: Threshold of Illiteracy, and Angel Rama’s The Lettered City, as well as references towards the usage of Vietglish in the current time. I would argue further that the existence of Vietglish is a potential empowering tool to be used for illiterate purposes in expanding what Vietnam can understand about the world.
Nguyen, Ngoc Hai '26, "Vietglish - A Reluctant Acceptance of the Close-Minded Literate Society" (2022). Best First-Year Seminar Writing. 6, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.