Part I introduction

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1. Rationale

In Vietnamese, the verb ‘chạy’ does not only indicate a physical activity only but also imply other situations in real life communication. To some extent, it is not too difficult to find such circumstances in which people use the verb ‘chạy’: ‘chạy ăn từng bữa toát mồ hôi’, ‘chạy làng’, ‘chạy triện đồng’ etc. Especially, modern Vietnamese language, which has developed and reflected the life in its own way, has been supplemented with many new words, or new interpretations to the existing words such as ‘chạy điểm’, ‘chạy trường’, ‘chạy án’, ‘chạy thận, ‘chạy sô’, etc.

The verb ‘run’ in English, similarly, is rich in meaning which can be listed some expressions like ‘run in the race’, ‘run a company’, ‘run a risk’, ‘run a temperature’, ‘run the risk’ etc.

How do English people find equivalents for such expressions like ‘chạy tang’, ‘chạy làng’, ‘chạy mả’, etc. in their language, and how do Vietnamese people translate such expressions like ‘run guns’, ‘hit and run’, etc? This is the very question that seriously runs in the author’s mind.

Language is widely accepted as the reflection of life. By comparing languages, the similarities and differences not only between the languages but also between the speakers of the languages as well as their cultures can be revealed.

R.J. D Pietro (1971:12), a French educational linguist, believed that CA was founded on the foreign language teaching experiences. Each language has its own phonological, morphological and syntactical features that could present difficulties for language learners. To help overcome specific teaching and learning predicaments, this thesis has been made with an attempt to create a definite pedagogical value with its presentation of effective teaching strategies. On these points of departure, the author has conducted the study entitled “A Contrastive Analysis between the Verb ‘Run’ in English and the Verb ‘Chạy’ in Vietnamese”.

2. Aims of the Study

The study is aimed at:

* Finding the similarities and differences between the verb ‘run’ in English and the verb ‘chạy’ in Vietnamese mainly in terms of MiCA and briefly in term of MaCA;

* Providing recommendations for the teaching and learning as well as some tips when translating ‘run’ and ‘chạy’ into the target language.

To fully achieve these aims, the study should answer the following questions:

  • What are the grammatical and semantic features of each verb and how are they similar and different in terms of these features?

  • What are their synonyms and idioms?

  • What are the implications of the study for EFL teaching/learning and translation?

3. Scope of the Study

This is a minor thesis. Consequently, it is unfeasible to discuss both the verbs in terms of MiCA and MaCA in details. Therefore, within this study, the author focuses on analyzing and contrasting them in terms of MiCA (concerning grammatical and semantic features of the two verbs), and just briefs the similarities and differences between them concerned with MaCA.

The verbs ‘run’ and ‘chạy’ have numerous synonyms and are used in relevant idioms. Thus, after an overview on them is given, some most common ones shall be introduced.

4. Methods of the Study

The study has been carried out based on a combination of different methods as follow:

- Document;

- Synthesize and;

- Analyze and contrast;

The procedures of the study are:

- To synthesize meanings of ‘run’ and ‘chạy’ as well as examples to illustrate from different sources such as from dictionaries, literary works, newspapers, magazines, films, native speakers and websites.

- To collect synonyms of each verb as well as idioms in which they are used.

- To analyze and contrast each verb in terms of MiCA and MaCA respectively to make clear the similarities and differences between them.

- To suggest how to apply these findings to the language teaching/learning and translation.

5. Design of the Study

The study consists of three parts organized as follows:

Part I entitled “INTRODUCTION” outlining the background of the study in which a brief account of relevant information such as the rationale, aims, scope, methods and design of the study are provided.

Part II, the “INVESTIGATION”, is subdivided into two chapters. The first Chapter is discussed the “THEORETICAL BACKGROUND” which provides necessary and relevant theoretical concepts for the main contents of the study, covering a series of concepts ranging from CA, contrasts between MiCA and MaCA, verbs in English and in Vietnamese, a brief introduction of synonyms, and idioms. Chapter 2: “A CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS BETWEEN THE VERB ‘RUN’ IN ENGLISH AND THE VERB ‘CHẠY’ IN VIETNAMESEdiscusses the two verbs in terms of MiCA and MaCA in succession. Each chapter ends with some concluding remarks.

Part III, the “CONCLUSION”, which provides recapitulation, implications of the study for EFL teaching and learning and to translation from English to Vietnamese and vice versa, and recommendations for further research. The “REFERENCES” and “SOURCES OF THE DATA” mark the end of the thesis.


1.1. An Overview on Contrastive Analysis

1.1.1. Definition

The modern foreign language teaching tendency requires the teachers not only to teach their learners about the language but also how to use the language. To a certain extent, CA was established to meet that requirement.

According to Richards, J.C et al (1992), CA is “the comparison of the linguistic systems of two languages, for example the sound system or the grammatical system,

From Carl James’ view (1980:2) CA is “a linguistic enterprise aimed at producing inverted (i.e. contrastive, not comparative) two values typologies (a CA is always concerned with a pair of languages), and founded on the assumption that languages can be compared.”

CA describes similarities and differences among two or more languages at such levels as phonology, grammar, pragmatics, and semantics. According to Carl James (1980), CA is both a form of pure linguistics and applied linguistics. However, CA is only a peripheral enterprise in pure linguistics. CA is central concern of applied linguistics. So the term CA we use within this study intends “Applied CA”.

1.1.2. CA and Foreign Language Teaching and Learning

Charles Fries (1945:9) wrote: “The most efficient materials are those that are based upon a scientific description of letthe language to be learned, carefully compared with a parallel description of the native language of the learner”. Robert Lado (1957) thought: “Individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings and the distribution of forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign language and culture- both productively and when attempting to speak the language and to act in the culture and receptively when attempting to grasp and understand the language and culture as practiced by natives.” Then Lado made a conclusion that “those elements which are similar to the learner's native language will be simple for him, and those elements that are different will be difficult". Obviously, teachers can make use of CA to minimize the effects of that interference.

Contrastive Analysis is not merely relevant for second language teaching and learning but it can also make useful contributions to machine translating and linguistics typology. It is relevant to the designing of teaching materials for use in all age groups. Le Quang Thiem (2004:69) confirmed that CA helps to find out the root of mistakes that language learners may make.

1.1.3. MiCA versus MaCA

MiCA and MaCA are broad terms, which refer to two major types of linguistics. Microlinguistics refers to phonetics, phonology, grammar and semantics, whereas Macrolinguistics covers sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and other related disciplines. In sociolinguistics, the micro level is often equated with variation and face-to-face communication, whereas macro sociolinguistics involves language planning and sociology of language.

In microlinguistics’ view, languages should be analyzed for their own sake and without reference to their social function, to the manner in which they are acquired by children, to the psychological mechanisms that underlie the production and reception of speech, to the literary and the aesthetic or communicative function of language, and so on. For example, a study of this kind often finds out what the consonant phonemes in languages X and Y are, how they differ in inventory, realization and distribution; what the tense system of language X and Y, etc.

The main aim of MiCA is a formal description of the language system based on the interrelationships and independencies of its elements without any recourse to external factors. Obviously, the translation situation which involves equivalent messages, that is speech units or texts, in two different languages is not part of the system of either of these languages and can not be studied and described in terms of microlinguistics.

Macolinguistics is the term that Yngve (1975) calls ‘broad’ or ‘human’ linguistics aiming at achieving a scientific understanding of how people communicate or we may define macrolinguistics as a field of study concerned with language in its broadest sense and including cultural and behavioral features associated with language.

Carl James (1980) suggested that “the communicating individual must be able to identify the situational constraints to which speech events are subjects and produce utterances that conform to them.”

Hymes (1974) identifies six variables which he suggests the ethnographer of speaking must refer to in characterizing any particular event, they are setting, participants, purpose, key, content, and channel.

Whereas, Carl James (1980:101) simplified these six variables in to “who says what to whom, where and when, how and why”

1.2. A Brief Description of Verbs

In most languages, verbs are part of speech expressing existence, action, or occurrence.

According to Jack C. Richards et al (1992:398), a word is a verb when it satisfies these following criteria:

  • Occurs as part of the predicate of a sentence;

  • Caries markers of grammatical categories such as tense, aspect, person, number, and mood; and

  • Refers to an action or state.

Generally in English, the verb tense shows the time of the action or state; the aspect of a verb defines the temporal flow (or lack thereof) in the described event or state. In English, for example, the past-tense sentences ‘I swam’ and ‘I was swimming’ differ in aspect (the first sentence is in what is called the perfective or completive aspect, and the second in what is called the imperfective or durative aspect); voice is used to show relationships between the action and the people affected by it; mood is one of a set of distinctive verb forms that are used to signal modality. It is distinct from grammatical tense or grammatical aspect, although these concepts are conflated to some degree in many languages, including English. To some extent, the same word patterns are used to express more than one of these concepts at the same time, mood shows the attitude of the speaker about the verb currently identified moods include conditional, imperative, indicative, injunctive, optative, potential, subjunctive, and more. Verbs can be affected by person and number to show agreement with the subject. Some English verblike forms have properties of two parts of speech (e.g., participles may be used as adjectives and gerunds as nouns).

On the contrary, verbs in Vietnamese do not have the concord with other parts of speech. In other words, they are not affected by number, person, gender, mood, voice, and tense. In Vietnamese, “A sentence refers to the basic time of the context—that is the time which has been made clear in the context up to that point." (Thompson 1965:209), in addition, when functioning as central component of a verb phrase, verb can combine with other modal auxiliary components before it to indicate scope of the action or activity such as ‘cũng’, ‘đều’, ‘cứ’, etc. to indicate continuation like ‘còn’, ‘vẫn’, etc.; to indicate tense, aspect such as ‘sắp’, ‘đang’, ‘sẽ’, ‘đã’, etc.; to refer to negative meaning, for example: ‘chưa’, ‘không’, ‘chẳng’, etc.; to indicate advice or prohibit such as: ‘hãy’, ‘đừng’, ‘chớ’, and so on. However, as Cao Xuan Hao suggested, such auxiliary components, especially ‘sắp’, ‘đang’, ‘sẽ’, ‘đã’ should be used with great care because in some cases these auxiliaries do not at all indicate the tense. For instances, a soldier reunited with his family for five days, and the next day when he had to come back to his military unit. His wife said to him: “Ngày mai anh đã đi rồi à?”, “đã” here does not indicate tense, it just helps to show regret. Obviously, in Vietnamese, context holds the key factor to define tense of the verbs.

In each language, there are different ways to classify verbs, however, in this thesis, the classification of which verbs are divided into transitive and intransitive verbs shal be applied, which would be convenient to compare the two verbs ‘run’ in English and ‘chạy’ in Vietnamese. According to Diệp Quang Ban and Hoàng Văn Thung, intransitive verb does not need a direct object to function, for examples: Dung đang chạy tung tăng trong công viên (Dung is running here and there in the park); Bé Ball ngủ say trong vòng tay mẹ (Little Ball is fast sleeping in her mother’s arms), He is running in a park near by, etc., transitive verbs, in contrast, can not stand alone, they need help from other words to complete their meaning as in: Anh ta đã bán cổ phần của mình cho tôi (He sold me his stocks); Họ soạn thảo lại hợp đồng (They redrafted the contract); Chị ta đang bàn giao sổ sách cho người kế nhiệm (She is handing over the records for the successor); or They ran their own company for years.

In both languages, verbs indicating movement can combine with words of directions. For example: run upstairs; come down; go over; or chạy lên; đi xuống, etc. However, in Vietnamese, there exist directional verbs in their own sense such as: ‘ra’, ‘vào’/‘vô’, ‘lên’, ‘xuống’, ‘qua’, and so on as in:

- “Đường vô xứ Nghệ quanh quanh

Non xanh nước biếc như tranh họa đồ” (Vietnamese proverb)

1.3. Meanings of Meaning

Meaning refers to what a language expresses about the world we live in or any possible or imaginary world. The theories of meaning and its types can be found in the literature of Leech (1974), Lyon (1977), (1995), Palmer (1981), and Crystal (1995). There are two types of meanings: grammatical meaning and lexical meaning.

According to Lyons (1995:52) a lexeme may have different word-forms which will generally differ in their grammatical meaning. For example, the forms of ‘teacher’ and ‘teachers’ differ in respect of their grammatical meaning. ‘Teacher’ is singular form (of a noun of a particular class), and ‘teachers’ is plural form (of a noun of a particular class); and the difference between singular forms and plural form is semantically relevant: it affects sentence meaning. The meaning of a sentence is determined partly by the meaning of the words of which it consists and partly by its grammatical meaning.

Baker (1992:12) stated that lexical meaning of a word may be viewed as the specific value it has in a particular linguistic system. It is the most outstanding individual property of words, and in contrast with grammatical meaning, it can stand on its own.

Different types of lexical meaning as recognized by Leech (1974) are:

(1) Conceptual meaning: Logical, cognitive, or denotative content.

(2) Associative meaning

- Connotative meaning: What is communicated in terms of what language refers to.

- Social meaning: What is communicated of the social circumstances of language use.

- Affective meaning: What is communicated of the feelings and attitudes of the speaker/writer.

- Reflected meaning: What is communicated through association with another sense of the same expression.

- Collocative meaning: What is communicated through association with words which tend to occur in the environment of another word.

(3) Thematic meaning: What is communicated by the way in which the message is organized in terms of order and emphasis.

Do Huu Chau (1999:111-130) uses the terms ‘ý nghĩa biểu vật’ (denotational meaning) and ‘ý nghĩa biểu niệm’ (connotational meaning) to generalize the meanings of words in Vietnamese. According to him, entities and phenomenon in the objective world are reflected in the mind as the concepts and reflected in the language as the denotational meanings which lead to the relevant connotational meanings.

Therefore, to some extent, in terms of lexical meaning, verbs in English and in Vietnamese are similar. However, they differ in respect of grammatical meaning. English verbs carry two kinds of meanings; meanwhile, Vietnamese verbs themselves do not carry grammatical meaning such as tense, aspect, etc.

1.4. Synonyms

Synonyms are different words with identical or very similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. Synonymy is a kind of sense relation or more specifically, one of the substitutional sense relations.

Jack C. Richards et al (1992:368) defined synonym as a word which has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word. It should be noted that two words which are synonymous must belong to the same part of speech.

Lyon (1995:60) divides synonyms into three kinds: absolute synonyms, near synonyms and partial synonyms. However, some linguists such as Jack C. Richards et al (1992:368), Palmer (1981:88) argue that no two words have exactly the same meaning (denotational and connotational meanings). Absolute synonyms, according to Lyon (1995:61), must satisfy three conditions:

  1. all their meanings are identical;

  2. they are synonymous in all contexts;

  3. they are semantically equivalent (i.e. their meaning or meanings are identical) on all dimensions of meaning, descriptive and non-descriptive.

Some lexicographers claim that in English, no synonyms have exactly the same meaning (in all contexts or social levels of language) because etymology, orthography, phonic qualities, ambiguous meanings, usage, etc. make them unique. Different words that are similar in meaning usually differ for a reason: feline is more formal than cat; long and extended are only synonyms in one usage and not in others (for example, a long arm is not the same as an extended arm). Therefore, in this study, only partial synonyms of “run” are dealt with.

However, absolute synonyms can be found in Vietnamese as in: ‘sân bay’ and ‘phi trường’; ‘ti vi’ and ‘máy vô tuyến’, ‘bóng đá’ and ‘túc cầu’, etc.

1.5. Idioms

Idioms are widely defined as words collocated together that happen to become fossilized, becoming fixed over time. This collocation words commonly used in a group and changes the definition of each of the words that exist. The collocated words develop a specialized meaning as a whole and an idiom is born.

An expression is an idiom, described by Jon Wright (1999:7), when it carries the following features:

1. It is fixed and it is recognized by native speakers. You cannot make up your own!

2. It uses language in a non-literal-metaphorical-way.

According to Jack C. Richards et al (1992:172), idiom is an expression which functions as a single unit and whose meaning cannot be worked out from its separate parts. This view is shared by Robins (1989), Palmer (1981), Jackson and Evenla (2000), Seidle (1978), Jack C. Richards et al (1992:172), and Cruse (1986). For example, ‘Still waters run deep’ - the collocation of ‘still’, ‘water’, ‘run’ and ‘deep’ is an idiom meaning ‘something thay you say which means people who say very little often have very interesting and complicated personalities’ (suggested Vietnamese equivalent idiom is ‘thẩm lẩm, thầm lầm mà đấm chết voi’ which is not systematically determinable from the meaning of its constituents.

Palmer (1981) states that an idiom is semantically like a word but it does not function like a word. For example, if an idiom may be inflected, the inflectional affixes are carried by the grammatical appropriate elements within the idioms whether or not they are semantic constituents.

To put in a nutshell, discussion on idioms explains one of the reason why we conduct this thesis which help to reduce difficulties that learners of the second language may face when dealing with idioms with “run” and “chạy”.

1.6. Concluding Remarks

Theoretical background for the contrastive analysis between the verb “run” in English and the verb “chạy” in Vietnamese in terms of Mic and Mac has been introduced in this chapter. Readers are provided with an overview on CA, brieft contrasts between MiCA and MaCA, and between verbs in English and verbs in Vietnamese. Moreover, different kinds of meaning, synonyms and idioms are also discussed. Based on this theoretical foundation, we will commence chapter 2 “A Contrastive Analysis between the Verb ‘Run’ in English and the Verb ‘Chạy’ in Vietnamese”.



With the aims of drawing an overall picture of the two relevant verbs in the English and Vietnamese languages, the author made effort to deeply investigate into the objective verbs by analyzing and synthesizing basing on more than twenty English dictionaries; over ten Vietnamese dictionaries; hundreds of writing works; valuable addition from colleagues and revision from the respected supervisor.

In this part, we firstly study the two verbs in terms of MiCA. The verbs will be studied separately within two of the three aspects of MiCA: the grammatical features, the semantic features which are focused to figure out their general meanings and meanings in some idioms respectively, the synonyms of each verbs are also discussed. Then the findings are reached with the statements on the similarities and differences between the objects of the study. This chapter is followed up with the analysis and contrast the “run” and “chạy” in terms of MaCA which is much related to extralinguistic components.

2.1. A Contrastive Analysis between the Verb ‘Run’ in English and the Verb ‘Chạy’ in Vietnamese in Terms of Microlinguistics

As we already mentioned in the early parts, in terms of microlinguistics the verb ‘run’ in English will be worked with three features: grammatical features (including syntactic and morphological features) and semantic features.

2.1.1. An Investigation into the Verb ‘Run’ in English Grammatical Features Syntactic Features

‘Run’ is an ordinary verb, sharing the typical syntactic functions of a verb, as following:

  1. Being part of the predicate of a sentence. For example:

- Barack Obama's campaign ran a 30-minute advertisement simultaneously on multiple television networks in an attempt to reach and sway a large number of undecided voters. (17:1)

- It's hard to explain, but you must run as fast as you can using as little energy as possible. (24:2)

- If you don't run very fast in practice, you won't be able to run very fast in races.


(b) Derivates of ‘run’ have different grammatical functions such as subjects, objects, or complements, etc. as in:

- Running so fast made him exhausted.

- Not everybody is fast enough to run in the Olympics. (2:48)

- When U.S. inflation was running at 20 percent, he forecasted that inflation would remain in the double digits. (8:67)

- So who is the greatest runner of all time? That would have to be Michael Johnson. (24:5)

(c) Carries markers of grammatical categories such as tense, aspects, person, number and mood as in:

- As I said, all of this ran through my mind as I sat in my airplane seat high over the Atlantic. (7:289)

- And she was running, running for her life, her feet flying across the fields. (14:65)

(d) ‘Run’ is both a transitive and intransitive verb. This means ‘run’ can work with or without objects.

As an intransitive verb:

- I am always running about, looking for my glasses.

- Sorry, I have to run.

As a transitive verb:

- Disney runs a training program that lasts a week in order to convey what experience the company wants customers to have at Disneyland. (12:33)

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