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Words: Loaned by the French, Borrowed by the Vietnamese

From pho and banh mi to motorbike culture, elements of French influence can still be found throughout Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese language also contains dozens of French 'loan words' that, while often spelled and pronounced a bit differently, serve as a reminder of the country's colonial past. And, unless you have a grasp on both French and Vietnamese, many of them don't seem particularly obvious.

With the help of 23-year-old Abby Nguyen and numerous other sources, the Taipei Times compiled a list of French 'loan words' still in use today in Vietnam.

Here are some of our favorites: 


Many suspect that Pho comes from the French, pot au feu.

Cheese/pho mat - from fromage.

Cake/ga to - from gateau.

Butter/bo - from beurre.

Suitcase/Va li - from valise.

Beer/bia - from biere.

Mailman/Phac - from facteur.

Beefsteak/Bit-tet - from biftek.

Coffee/ca phe - from cafe.

Soap/xa bong - from savon.

Circus/xiec - from cirque.

Ice cream/ca rem - from creme

Bra/su chien - from soutien.


If you know any other French 'loan words,' write them in the comments below!

[Taipei Times // Photo via Gavin White]

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