Wednesday, March 26, 2008

First Hmong Lesson

Hello everyone. Two posts in one day, how do you like that??? So, if this Hmong business is going to continue in any degree, I believe I should give you all a very brief and condensed first lesson in reading Hmong. There's no way to get into grammar and tones, however, since this is not a verbal lesson, but I can give you the basic idea of pronunciation. The Hmong language has only been romanized for just over 50 years, and there is little to no written history and/or language since anytime before then. Now then, in Hmong, there are some 13 vowels, some 50-something consenants and 8 (arguably 9) tones. A lot of the consenants are just combinations of consenants put together, such as t, ts, tsh, ntsh, etc. SO, for the sake of brevity, I will just teach a few key Hmong phrases, that will come in handy if you talk to me on the phone or in person. Key: Anytime a word ends in a consenant, it is the tone marker, and therefore unpronounced. Such as my Hmong name: Kuab Ci --the b in "Kuab" is silent, as it indicates the tone. If the word ends in a consenant, there is no tone, or, midtone. Anyway, enough ado, here are five key terms:

1. Nyob zoo

Literally, "To exist well," this is the common greeting, or, rougly, "hello". As outlined before, the b in "nyob" will be unpronounced, and the z makes a "zh" sort of sounds, as in "azure," so this phrase will be pronounced, "nyah zhong".

2. Sib ntsib dua

"To reciprocally meet again," or, roughly, goodbye, this is a good opportunity to learn a couple of new consenants. The s is pronounced "sh", and the nts is pronounced "nj", and of course each b will be silent, so this will be said, "Shee njee doua".

3. Ua tsaug

"To do thanks", this, of course, means thank you. As before, the ts will be pronounced as "j", and as a point of interest, the g tone in "tsaug" makes it a breathy sound (hard to explain, ask me sometime). So, this will be pronounced as "ua jao".

4. Thov txim

Literally "to plead punishment," this is commonly used as the American "I'm sorry." The th makes a hard t sound, and the tx makes a sort of "dz", like the sound at the end of "lids" or "meds." So, this will be pronounced "tah dzi."

5. Tsis ua li cas

"To not do like how," this phrase is used as "You're welcome," "Don't worry about it," or "No problem." It's used very often in many different circumstances, and is a very useful phrase to know. It will be pronounced like, "jee ua lee gyah."

So there you go! Now you all know all you need to know! You can now make your away around California, Minnesota or Wisconsin, or even Laos or Thailand! Good luck with your practicing, and I will be very glad to give anyone personal lessons.

Ua tsaug! Sib ntsib dua!


  1. Well it didn't take you long to get the hand of the blogging thing. A fine time for my internet to be down too. I can only check at friend's houses.

    All that Hmong stuff is quite a bit to take in. I can only imagine how you felt the first time you were introduced to the language.

    Hooray for the new blog.I was needing some fresh words to read.

  2. I don't think I will ever be able to learn your language Drew, as long as I shall live. And I thought Russian was hard!

  3. Well, congrats on being able to speak that. It tired me out after phrase #2. Any other language you want to learn from here on out will be a cinch.

  4. I give up. Too much brainpower for right now. I think I'll go take a nap.

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  6. I'm so glad you're home! Although I do believe the last time you saw me could have either been when I was still in Jr High or possibly at a twin's wedding. I've been hoping you would begin the world of blogging adn also hoping that I could possibly persuade you to do a song with one of those shark or animal stick puppets?

  7. Well, that is just crazy! I think you either have to be a genious or have the spirit to learn that language. Good thing you had both! Anyway I haven't heard hide nor hair of you since whatever day that was. Should we have a movie or something this weekend?

  8. I finally found your blog! I like the mhong, but tacketeeesseeyy..

  9. Must have been some pretty smart people who came up with the romanization of that difficult language. Amazing that you learned it.