Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Subjunctive and Vietnamese|
I recently viewed a TEDx Talk by a Phuc Tran. His narrative was moving, but in
his telling of it he asserts that his Vietnamese father could not think about ''what could have been'' because Vietnemese lacks a subjunctive. (His words exactly: ''There were no sustained moments of contemplating what could have been for him [Phuc's father] because Vietnamese didn’t allow it.
His talk can be seen here:
<a href='http://tedxdirigo.com/speakers/phuc-tran/' target='_blank'>http://tedxdirigo.com/speakers/phuc-tran/</a>
a link to the transcript is here:
<a href='http://www.racialicious.com/2012/12/12/grammar-identity-and-the-dark-side-of-the-subjunctive-phuc-tran-at-tedxdirigo/' target='_blank'>http://www.racialicious.com/2012/12/12/grammar-identity-and-the-dark-side-of-the-subjunctive-phuc-tran-at-tedxdirigo/</a>
What are the actual facts about how hypotheticals, recommendations and well-
wishes are communicated in Vietnamese?
I would like to use this TED Talk with students as a demonstration of the allure,
drama and pervasiveness of the idea of linguistic determinism, but need some
hard facts about the Vietnamese itself.
Best wishes and thank you for your time,
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