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Hmong Language
Last revised: December 30, 2008

If you are looking for information about the Hmong Language, you might want to visit this site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hmong_Daw_language. The information provided on that web site is not mine, however.

Another useful website you might be interested is www.answers.com For more information about Hmong/Mong and/or Hmoob click www.answers.com/hmong

Hmong Language is a tone-based language, and that means each word might sound very close to each others, if not carefully listen to they sound the same to non-Hmong people, but they have different meanings. Take a look at the following examples (I will provide sounds soon):

  1. Dev (sounds like day) and means a dog in Hmong. Click on the "D" and then the vowel "e" + tone marker "v" "ev"
  2. Deb (sounds like day, but with the highest possible pitch) and it means far in Hmong. Click on the "D" and then the vowel "e" + tone marker "b" "eb"
At first it might seems very strange when compares to the English language; however, there're also words in the English language that are very confusing to Hmong, too. For examples, the English words "Had" and "Hat" sound very much the same for most Hmong people at first since they are not familiar with the ending "D" and "T" sounds.

Hmong language is similar to another languages, i.e., it has pronouns, adverbs, verbs, classifiers (lots of them), adjectives, and nouns (objects, subjects, things). However, Hmong people use/place the adjective AFTER the noun. For example:

  1. I see a yellow house. Would be translated into Hmong as "Kuv pom ib lub tsev daj."

Notice that the English "a" after the verb "see" indicates that it is "ONE" object -- house. But in the Hmong language, we use the number "ib" plus the classifier "lub" and then the object -- house/tsev. So to translate the Hmong sentence more correctly back into English would be as follows:

I see one round house yellow. The classifier "lub" sounds like "LOO" means "a" and mostly used for objects such as "house, bed, pants, shirt, car, and other objects"--but not all things, however. Classifiers such as "rab, daim, res, tus, txoj etc..." are used for objects such as "knife, paper, flower, stick, rope" respectively.

Below here are a few suggestions about how to speak Hmong and more information about some differences between the Hmong Language and English Language.

Please do not use the word "Koj" to mean "You -- more than two persons in English." The word "Koj" should only be used when speaking/talking to one person only, and use the word "Neb" when conversing with two persons, and the word "Nej" when dealing with a group of people -- more than two persons. Always use the word "Nej or Mej" when talking on the radio, TV, and/or to an audience.


Here are some examples:

HmongEnglish
Kuv qhia rau koj tias... I tell you that... (one person only)
Kuv qhia rau neb tias... I tell you two that... (two persons only)
Kuv qhia rau nej tias... I tell you that... (more than two persons only)


Some people use xav hais tias to mean xav tias...

"Kuv xav hais tias koj yog ib tus neeg zoo" when they really meant to say "Kuv xav tias koj yog ib tus neeg zoo." Have you noticed the difference? Let see if we can translate this into English. "I would like to say that you are a good person" when they really meant to say "I think you are a good person." The word "xav hais" literally means "would like to say or speak" and that is not the same as the word "xav" or "think" in English.

Singular and plural

There is no "s" after the nouns in the Hmong language. We use number in front of nouns to indidicate the quantity. For example, Kuv muaj tsib tus npua. To translate this into English would be something like "I have five pig" and not "I have five pigs." However, the prefer translation should've been "I have five pigs." At first you might think this is wierd but it is because you have been spoken and learned that way only. That type of usage is no different than this very perfect line -- I have five deer and/or I have five fish! Five already means more than one; therefore, the s placed after the noun/object is not necessary. As you can see, English is a very complicate language because it has so many exceptions. In other words, things, words and verbs, that don't follow the rule, and these exceptions make people who like consistency and like rule crazy.

I swear if we spend as much time improving our spoken language as we have on computer programming language, we would not be talking about these million years old exceptions. But perhaps we are too stuborn to learn a new way and eliminating these exceptions, we will be carrying and living with these exceptions forever and ever. With that being said, if you wish to speak English correctly, you will need to take many English classes and able to memorize all the exceptions and rules, and only then you perhaps will be able to speak English EXCEPTIONALLY!

Past, present and future is all about times...

The Hmong people use time, date, month and year to indicate when certain events happen. For example, I wash my shirt yesterday which means I have done and/or washed it already since I mentioned yesterday. Again, this might seems a bit strange to most English speakers, but this very line is no different than this line -- I cut my lawn yesterday. The word/verb cut stays the same no matter you use it for past, present or future.

This is also true for verbs as well. For example, he like to play soccer and not he likes. All Hmong verbs and words always stay the same no matter what kind of pronouns (singular or plural) we are referring to. Again, this type of usage is very similar to the past tense of English. Take a look at the following examples and you will see what I mean:

He did, we did, it did, and they did is still about the same did -- the past tense of do! So now you know why some Hmong and foreign people speak like "He eat, she like" etc... It is not incorrect, it is rather correctly spoken, but it did not conform to the exceptions only. Furthermore, I hope that you understand that no one language is better than others. Each language has its own roots and (crooked) branches just like trees, but its purpose is still the same -- to communicate.

Yog peb yuav hais peb cov lus kom yog thiab zoo, peb yuav tau muab peb cov lus los sau thiab xav kom zoo ua ntej peb hais lossis tham mas thiaj li yuav zoo meej. Peb qhov teeb meem yog vim peb tsis muaj tebchaws thiab muaj ntawv sau; yog li, peb thiaj li tsis paub txhim thiab kho peb cov lus kom zoo li luag lwm haiv neeg cov.

koJ muS kuV niaM neeG siaB zoo toD
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