Chatting in Vietnamese

Stephanie Sackman is learning Vietnamese to communicate with her daughter’s birth family. You can read her latest post here, and see her blogging history here.

About a week ago, I was doing something on my computer and suddenly got an instant message. It was in Vietnamese. I froze. It was McKenna’s birth father IM’ing me! Would I be able to chat with him? Would I be able to come up with anything to say, let alone type it? Would he understand me? The conversation went something like this (all in Vietnamese):

Him: Hello, Stephanie.

Me: Hello, guy of youngish age, how are you?

Him: We are fine. [Oh boy! He understood me!] How are you?

Me: Sheridan is sick, but Steve, McKenna, and I are fine.

Him: I just got a picture of Sheridan. [I think he had taken a look at the blog with Sheridan’s picture in it.]

Him: Do you intend to come to Vietnam? Do not call me balance of months younger. [Huh?]

This is one of the main reasons I’m learning Vietnamese. Online translation programs just don’t cut it sometimes! I decided to use a phrase I’ve learned from my Rosetta Stone studies:

Me: When do you work?

Him: I am not busy right now. [He understood me!]

This short conversation took about 15 minutes as I shifted from my IM service to my Vietnamese keyboard emulator to the online translator when I didn’t understand something he wrote.

I chatted with my daughter’s birth father. I was a little stunned that I’d done it.

Somehow, half a world away doesn’t seem so far when you can chat with someone in their language.

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