Subjunctive and Vietnamese

asked 2015-03-19 12:59:51 -0500

anonymous user


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 link to the transcript is here:

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,

R. Varra

(Transferred from old LINGUIST List Ask-a-Linguist site)

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