Linguistic Viruses Render You Impotent, Maim, Kill

[Vung Tau, 6/22/22]

Each language is a unique vision of the world. You have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re not supposed to. I’m not speaking your language.

Eternally young, or so they think, sexpats frequent hostess bars, massage parlors and whore houses, slur dumbed down phrases to jaded liars, swap jivey smiles and have minimal interactions with those who don’t lick dicks for a living, so they can spend years in a foreign society without learning shit about it.

Traveling through any country, you can generally get away with speaking English, even badly, for the locals will deem their own bad English as a failing. Unjustly, English has become an international standard. Worse, native speakers of English can too easily lapse into the farcical illusion that any foreigner’s retarded English is a sign of his native stupidity.

A virus, English infects alien societies to corrode their integrity, dignity and virility. Due to English, foreign genitals shrivel and even disappear. Just search on YouTube to witness innumerable examples of this, in real time even. A Pashtun mom sobs as her son’s dick falls right off as soon as he utters, “Hello, my name is Andam. How do you do?”

On Ba Cu Street, more than half of the shop signs are contaminated by English, often bad. There’s “P.O.N.—PEOPLE OF NOW,” “MECIA-FASHION OF FUTURE,” “Doctor Teeth Dental Clinic, etc. Lamell's Pet Shop has a poster of a white couple with two toddlers, just sitting on a bed and grinning. Despite its name, it’s a Vietnamese chain selling cutesy clothing, bedding, backpacks and masks for kids.

Just like English, whiteness is ultra-cool and implies a higher quality, if not transition to a better life. Though few items sold in Vietnam, or the USA, for that matter, are made in the USA, English reassures buyers these made in China, Vietnam or India merchandises are good enough for white people.

On Lê Lai, there’s a hair and nail salon called Beautifur! On Trương Công Định, there’s Fuku Café, and though inscrutable is no longer kosher when it comes to Orientals, it may apply here, perfectly. Since Fu Yu or Phu Yu means nothing in Vietnamese, and there isn’t even an F in the Vietnamese alphabet, Fuku is clearly foreign-inspired, as in Fuk U, perhaps, but why? In any case, patrons are responding in kind, for out of 50 times or so I’ve walked by there, I’ve seen no more than half a dozen customers. Fuku too!

On Sô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh, there's a drinking joint, “wèo wéo weo,” which is a comic Vietnamese spelling of the English “well, well, well.” Nice joke.

Listen, I’m no purist. Every language has been infiltrated, thickened, expanded and enriched by loan words, many quite charming, transplanted. The Vietnamese for waiter is “bồi bàn,” with “bồi” derived from “boy,” as in garçon for waiter in French. The colloquial “ghệ” is derived from “girl” and means girl, girlfriend or the similarly flippant “chick” in English.

In the end, though, each language contains a slew of words that can’t be translated cleanly, if at all, because, again, each language is a unique vision of the world.

Walking by Vung Tau’s wet market, I noticed a missing person flyer. He’s 31-years-old, without most front teeth and mute. He wears a baby blue shirt, “ATILENTIC,” with “Happy” in cursive just visible.

What’s really odd is his name, Cu. Meaning literally “penis,” it’s a familial term of endearment for little boys. No grown man should be called this in public, which means Cu didn’t get around much, so how can he be missing, or end up in Vung Tau, 60 miles from home?! Unable to tell stories, joke and banter, Cu clearly looks retarded, but dumb also means mute for a reason. Since he’s least likely to be kidnapped, this sad man probably just ran away. I hope you’re OK, Cu.

Moving away from calling their little boys Cu, many Vietnamese parents now give them English nicknames. I know a kid in Saigon called Pepsi, and another, Cô Ca, which is Vietnamese for Coke.

Just now, Jimmy McGee walked by. Fifty-one-years-old, bald and stocky, Jim shows up at Café Ca Dao maybe three times a week. Usually with a headphone on, he’s trying hard to learn Vietnamese. I suggested he pronounce each word with his entire body. Like, really speak it.

Born in Glasgow, Jim spent a decade in Brighton. There, he started Poetry Brothel, an event where each poet is paired with a listener then left in a room for ten minutes. At the end, said listener can tip, or strangle, perhaps, the poet.

Before Vietnam, Jim never spent more than two weeks in a foreign country. Jim’s been here seven years.

“Have you been back to the UK since, Jim?”

“No, I’m afraid what I might see. Vietnam changes and modernizes year-by-year, not always in a good way… The UK is going in the other direction, and seems to always be getting worse.”

I’d say that’s true of the entire American sphere. The tighter the American grip, the more degraded, insane and deracinated a population.

Jim admits to knowing less than five words of Gaelic, “I don’t even know how to say hello.”

“Man, that’s bad.”

“You could get your head chopped off for speaking Gaelic.”

Fumbling through a language usually takes decades. Seeing “cá chiên” [“fried fish balls”], Jim thought chiên was derived from the French chien, for dogs. Overhearing someone ask for “thịt nguội” [“cold cuts”], Jim assumed it was “thịt người” [“human flesh”]. “My God, I thought. I’m up for anything, but human flesh?!”

Nothing Jim eats in Vietnam can be as alarming as deep-fried Mars bar or battered pizza. It’s pizza crunch for supper. You’ve got to love them Scots. Robert Burns:

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.”

Chien et al. What the Scots no longer hae is their own language in circulation, and that’s a grand tragedy.

During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong had a slogan, "Chống Mỹ, Cứu Nước," meaning "Fight America, Save the Country." It's time for a new movement, "Chống Tiếng Mỹ, Cứu Nước." Fight America's language, save your country.

Americans, too, need to recover their tongue.

[Vung Tau, 6/24/22]