Proceedings of the 18th International Conference of the Asia Association of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (AsiaCALL–2-2021)

The Semantic Change of RA and VÀO in Vietnamese in Contrast to Their Equivalents in English


Duong Tran Van1*

1Department of English/American Language and Culture, Hoa Sen University, Viet Nam

*Corresponding author. Email:

Corresponding Author

Duong Tran Van

Available Online 24 December 2021.

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ra; vào; conceptualization; orientational metaphor; container metaphor


This study investigates the semantic change of the two words denoting spatial orientations RA and VÀO in Vietnamese, in contrast to their translation equivalents in English. Originally expressing spatial meanings, these words have gradually been used to represent abstract concepts. This fact results from the semantic change involving orientational metaphors and container metaphors. The bilingual Vietnamese-English data used in this study were mainly extracted from the collection “Tình yêu sau chiến tranh: Tuyển tập truyện ngắn Việt Nam đương đại”, including short stories by 45 Vietnamese writers, and the English translation “Love after war: contemporary fiction from Viet Nam,” translated by 19 Vietnamese and American translators. In addition, this study also used data extracted from Vietlex Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English. The results show that non-spatial meanings of RA and VÀO are systematically derived from spatial experiences of Vietnamese native speakers, and four clusters of non-spatial meanings have been identified: (1) getting into and out of a situation; (2) appearance and disappearance; (3) knowing; (4) support and exclusion. These extended conceptualizations are clearly reflected in both Vietnamese and English languages. However, the process of encoding non-spatial concepts varies across linguistic communities.


© 2021 The Authors. Published by Atlantis Press SARL.

Open Access This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC license

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