In Vietnamese the term for the literal meaning of a phrase is nghĩa bong ( which translates to “white meaning”) and the idiomatic meaning is called nghĩa đen (the “black meaning”). Here are 2 of our favorite sayings that you can easily use in conversation:
Giạn cá, chém thớt – the literal translation of this is “angry with the fish, chop the board” and it refers to someone being angry with person A but taking out their frustrations on person B instead.
Dất lanh, chím đậu – this phrase means “peaceful land attracts the birds” and you can use this to explain why you enjoy living in Hanoi so much – it means that a location is safe and comfortable & that’s why people choose to live there.
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