The Art of conversation

For the past 3 months there has been an overall sense of inevitably about the outcome of many of my daily one-to-one conversations with local Vietnamese here in Saigon.

Communicating with taxi drivers, supermarket check-out staff, waiters, security guards, and the like, more than often becomes a slow, truncated, and unsatisfactory exchange where both parties appear genial and responsive, but neither is really grasping what the other is talking about.

Despite embarking on a short course of Vietnamese, and initially buoyed by some of its relatively simple grammatical rules, the very unfamiliar tonal aspects of Vietnamese remain a point of departure for me – as they do, I have heard, for many others who have come here with European trained diction, and tried and failed to master the (somewhat disputed) number of tones which make up the language. Continue reading

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