Vietnamese – the language is tricky. You cannot address everyone YOU and yourself I in all circumstances.
That said, if you don’t know the age and gender of the person you’re speaking to or exchanging emails with, ASK! Simple and easy and that will help you from all the troubles and misunderstanding.
If you don’t ask and have already addressed people wrongly, make sure next time you do it correctly. That will be fine.
Now, I have a situation here.
Person A wanted to work with us on a project and I told her half of our team are at her same age. However, I am a special case. I was one year younger than her but academically, I’m on a same batch with her. I don’t find there would be such a reason I have to address her as “chị” and I thought she could understand that.
1. She addressed me “em” even before asking me how she should address me properly
2. I didn’t want to be rude to tell her “Hey woman, don’t think i’m gonna call you “chị”” although I could have done it, seriously.
Two weeks after our follow-up email, we haven’t heard anything from her. Today, she added our Facebook and said “Hello (các) em, …”. I’m annoyed!
Say I’m sensitive and anal, I don’t care. Think, okay! You could have put it in a more nicely acceptable way, for example:
Mình abc … nên chưa xyz được với các bạn …”
And obviously, there’s always English to help you when you’re not sure how.
Now I need somebody to answer my questions since i’m not sure if i’m right to feel this irritating:
– Am I too sensitive?
– Is that something acceptable that people don’t need to address others properly?
– Is that right that I must definitely address her “chị”?
– Is that okay that she could generalize all of us (our team) and dress us “các em”?
– How to not feel annoying?
– How to reply to her properly in Vietnamese now?
Ya, those are questions lingering in my mind. This is really a no-big-deal but I still like to think about it. Need some comments here!