[NetBehaviour] Vietnam, 1962

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Jan 22 02:06:31 CET 2020

Vietnam, 1962


Hello (to a man)
(to a madam)
(to a miss)

I am (1) an American soldier
(2) an American officer who seeks friends
to assist in fighting the enemy.

Who speaks English?

Come forward (1) closer
(2) alone
(3) one of you only

(to a man) What is your name?

Are you alone? Where are your friends?

What are you doing here?

Where are you from?

How far is your home from here? (1) in Kilometers?
(2) in hours?

Who is the (one) (1) best known
(2) most trustworthy
(3) most reliable
in (1) this area
(2) this village
(3) the nearest hamlet
(4) the nearest town?

We wish to talk with him.

We are American soldiers.
There are a lot of American troops in this area.

Are there any (1) resistance forces
(2) individuals (3) groups
(4) fighters (5) patriots
(6) guerrillas (7) rebels
(8) outlaws (9) escapees
(10) deserters
in the (1) woods (2) plains
(3) hills (4) mountains
(5) villages?

Are they fighting the enemy?
Can we (1) trust them (2) rely on them?

How far (many kilometers to the nearest
(1) staff (2) outfit (3) guard (4) relay station
(5) courier (6) commander (7) telephone?

Guide us to (1) him (2) it.
Choose the safest route.

Bring the commander here.

Where can we spend the (1) day (2) night in safety?

What are the best places for our sentries?

Bandage my wound. Take bandage from (my)
(1) knapsack (2) bag (3) pocket (of mine).

Bring me medical aid.

I (1) can (2) cannot)
(1) walk (2) ride a horse. Bring a cart.

I am thirsty.

Hide my parachute. Take my things with us.

Show us the (1) safest
(2) shortest (3) best
route to those (1) hills (2) woods (3) rocks
(4) ridge of mountains.

If we must cross the (1) road (2) railroad,
choose the safest spot.

Avoid (1) villages
(2) inhabited places (3) roads.

In how many hours could we reach ________?

Does anyone here have
relatives in the U.S.?

Are there any Americans (1) here
(2) nearby (3) in the neighborhood?

Where is the (1) enemy
(2) militia (3) police?
How far?

We are looking for them.


Good evening
Good night

Don't be afraid. We
are friends.

We will not harm you.
Trust us.

We wish to talk with (1) you (2) master of the house
(3) father of the family (4) your husband (5) your son
(6) your father (7) your mother (8) your older sister or brother
(9) your brother-in-law (10) your sister-in-law.

Come with me (1) outside
(2) to the backyard
(3) to the orchard.
(4) to the garden.

Open the door or we will force it.

Move a little further away from the house so that we can talk

Have a (1) cigarette (2) candy (3) chocolate.

What is your name?
What is your family name?

Are you safe here?

Are you afraid? Why?
Of (1) whom (2) what?

Where is the (1) enemy
(2) militia (3) police?

What is the name of this
(1) village (2) area (3) forest (4) river?

Does (1) this (2) that
road lead to a (1) village
(2) town (3) crossroad?

We are American troops.

Bring (us) the (1) village chief
(2) trustworthy man (3) friend  (4) leader
(5) member of the underground
(6) member of the secret organization (to us).

We shall wait. All of you will wait.

I will go with you. Two of us will go with you.

Enter the (1) village
(2) house (3) hut

We shall wait (1) here
(2) there.

How long will it take you to return - a quarter,
a half hour, one hour?

Tell him nothing except that important friends wish to see him
(1) at once (2) soon as possible (3) tonight.

Don't talk to anyone else
about our business.

Promise, swear, hurry.

Don't shout.

In case of emergency we will move to (1) this (wood) (2) that (wood)
and wait.

Join us (1) there
(2) in the woods.

(1) Your nickname (2) your code name
in the future will be ______. Mine will be ______.

Give us information
about the enemy.

Who could give us information? Bring (1) him (2) them here.

Distinguish what you know personally from what you have heard
from (1) a reliable source (2) an unreliable source.

Please don't (1) exaggerate (2) minimize.

(Do the) (1) security troops (2) militia (3) gendarmerie
(4) police (5) territorial troops  patrol this area?

Do they use (1) scout cars (2) trucks (3) tanks
(4) motorcycles (5) horses (6) bicycles (7) radios
(8) aeroplanes (9) telephone communications?

Are there any local (1) individuals (2) men (3) women
(1) in the villages (2) in the woods) in the area
spying for the enemy?

Are they (1) known (2) unknown to
(1) you (2) your friends
(3) the people?

Do the people (1) like (2) protect (3) hate (4) fear

If we cannot trust a man,
(1) wink your right eye
(2) place your left hand on your stomach
(3) move your hand to the right, unnoticed,
until we note your signal.


selections, in order,

from Vietnamese Phrase Book, July, 1962

published for the use of all concerned,
By Order of the Secretary of the Army, G. H. Decker,
Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-611, 176 pp.
English-transliterated Vietnamese-Vietnamese

The Phrase Book is haunting, written before the war exploded,
on the verge of exploding, no mention of napalm, bombing raids,
however a phrase in the glossary, "neutralize the enemy," sign
of things to come. The book now reads as an elegy, unutterable,
miserable; I imagine a slow reading, over hours, of the English
in its entirety, perhaps on Yom Kippur or any day of reflection
and memory, of the future anterior of the memory of slaughter,
of the world taking the breath away

would like us to be there
to speak, bear witness, to hear that

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