Suddenly separated from the motherland in 1975, Vietnamese expatriates or Việt Kiều have well adapted to their new homeland.
After the initial shock of isolation and worthlessness, they succeeded in regrouping in prosperous economic communities across North
America, Australia and Europe. Fiercely nationalistic, they have strived to maintain their culture and language, from writings, songs,
paintings, sculptures, music, to their beloved yellow flag with three red stripes symbolizing the three regions of Vietnam, North,
Central and South. As a sign of cultural vitality, their birth language has developed new expressions to identify new conditions or
realities. This article will address some of these neologisms in North America.
Finger-pointed food - cơm chỉ
Cơm (cooked rice) is commonly used to mean "food" - đồ ăn.
Chỉ is "to point to," "to designate."
Though heavily influenced by Confucianism, South Vietnamese society has quickly evolved in the 20th centurỵ. Women in South
Vietnam enjoyed increased freedom and opportunity under French administration and later under the strong feminist advocacy of Mrs.
Nhu (Madame Nhu), in her role of South Vietnam First Lady. A favorite target of communist propaganda for defamation, Mrs. Nhu was
the wife of supreme Advisor Ngô Đình Nhu, the trusted brother of President Ngô Đình Diệm
who was single. Mrs. Nhu was famous for introducing the áo dài with a low neckline.
After coming to the Shores of Freedom, many Vietnamese women, free from the guilt and pain of defeat and with their natural social
skills, joined the workforce or enjoyed opportunities for self-development. Frequently, in late afternoon, they would go, not to a
restaurant because it is more expensive, but to a supermarket to buy prepared food for the family evening meal. Supermarkets catering
to Asians, seeing the need for oriental food, managed to provide daily a choice of appetizing entrées marketed in stainless
steel bins protected from contamination by glass panels. Customers would walk over to the brightly illuminated display, visually make
their choice, then point the finger to the selections, specifying the amount as how many portions (mấy phần) or dollars
in worth (cho tôi 4 đô (đồng).