Hà Nội Scribbles

Travel & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam

Red river, pink river in Hanoi

Ever wondered why the Red River in Ha Noi is so called?

In Vietnamese, the ‘Sông Hồng’, which creates the bend in which Ha Noi is built, translates confusingly as ‘pink river’. This apparent anomaly has occurred because the Red River originates in China where ‘hong’ means red, not pink. So at one end, the river is literally red but at the other end is literally pink.*

The influence of Chinese (Mandarin) is widely evidenced throughout the Vietnamese language in the same way that French (from the Normans) has been adopted into English. It’s estimated that some 30% of English words have their roots in French. For example, passport, restaurant, entrepreneur, etc. etc. The list goes on and on.

It’s pretty much the same with Vietnamese and Mandarin evidently.

I once went to Times City to visit the aquarium there. Going down the elevator, I subconsciously decided that the signs would say ‘nhà cá’ (fish house) since Vietnamese is such a logical language. On complaining to the wife that I couldn’t see any signs for the aquarium, she pointed to a sign that said, “thủy công”. This comes from Mandarin, too, and literally means ‘water palace’.

To be honest, I preferred my rendering of aquarium into tieng Viet, but sometimes you just have to go with convention.

*  This could be complete bollocks. I am open to correction.

One comment on “Red river, pink river in Hanoi

  1. vietnamvisa.cheap
    October 9, 2019

    Wow! I didn’t know this about the river in Hanoi, even though I’ve traveled there severally. Thanks for the great info!


Do you agree? Let me know now

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on August 3, 2019 by in Culture, Language, Sights, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 461 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 24,208 hits
%d bloggers like this: