Văn hóa Việt

First Goes Greeting

"Hi Uncle," greeted White-eye, seeing Uncle Red-Whiskered Bulbul.

"Hi Auntie," greeted White-eye, seeing Auntie Nightingale.

"Hi," greeted White-eye, seeing pagpie-robin.

"Hi," greeted White-eye, seeing Brow Starling.

(Hoang Van)

The Little White-eye has been a close friend of many generations of Vietnamese children. He is loved for being respectful and for politely greeting others rather than for his “well-groomed manner” or “shiny silk-like feather.”

How to help Vietnamese children overseas learn and practise Vietnamese culture and greeting etiquette has always been a concern among parents and caregivers. This is largely due to the complicated nature of greeting in Vietnamese, which is not as straightforward as that in other languages and cultures. In the Vietnamese language and culture, children are taught to greet their seniors by pressing both arms in front of their chest and bow slightly while saying a full sentence such as: “Cháu chào bác ạ!”; “Cháu chào ông ạ!” or greeting and adding a report “Thưa cô, cháu về!”; “Thưa bà, cháu mới đi học về!”. Adults often greet children back with a grammatically incomplete sentence such as “Chào cháu!” and “Chào con!”. Vietnamese greeting etiquette is intimately linked to the complicated pronoun system of the language. Unlike languages with fixed words or phrases to say hello, greetings in Vietnamese vary widely depending on the interlocutors and their relationship. Intonation too plays a crucial role in greeting since it expresses the speaker’s attitudes and feelings to the hearer. When greeting, children should greet in a clear and loud voice and look others in the eye to show them courtesy and respect. Greeting is not just a cultural practice, but also a strong indicator of personal morals and manners.

Therefore, to help children make greeting a habit, adults should consistently set a good example and start teaching them early. Parents should always practice greeting so that their children can learn from their behavior. Politely greeting others and initiating a greeting to children upon seeing them are great ways to help children form the greeting habit. Other useful resources include memorable poems, fables, songs and chants that can easily sink in and stay in children’s mind.

(Minh Hương - SoV Team member)