Tây Bồi Pidgin French

Tây Bồi
Native toVietnam
Extinctby 1980[1]
French Pidgin
  • Tây Bồi
Language codes
ISO 639-3tas

Tây Bồi (Vietnamese: tiếng Tây bồi),[3] or Vietnamese Pidgin French, was a pidgin spoken by non-French-educated Vietnamese, typically those who worked as servants in French households or milieux during the colonial era. Literally, it means "French (Tây) [of- or spoken by] male servants (Bồi)". During the French colonisation period, the majority of household servants for the French were male. The term is used by Vietnamese themselves to indicate that the spoken French language is poor, incorrect and ungrammatical.

"Bồi" is the Vietnamese phonetic spelling of the English word "boy", which referred to male household servants.[4]

The French government/colonisers or protectors opened French public schools (from pre-kindergarten through the Baccalaureat II) staffed by all native French speakers to take care of their compatriots/expatriates' children's education. Vietnamese children were admitted as well if they could pass the entrance examination tailored to their age and grade level. The Vietnamese elite class spoke French, and those with French Baccalaureat diplomas could attend French universities in France and in its colonies. After France's withdrawal from Indochina in 1954, Tây Bồi ceased to be used as a common language as standard French was used and is believed to have become extinct around the 1980s. Today standard French continues to be taught at schools and universities in Vietnam as a second language.

Tây Bồi is remarkably close to the stereotypical "broken" French spoken by foreign characters, such as in comics.


Tây Bồi Standard French Literal English Standard English
Moi faim J'ai faim Me hunger I am hungry
Moi tasse Ma tasse Me cup My cup
Lui avoir permission repos Il a la permission de se reposer He have permission rest [noun] He has permission to rest
Demain moi retour campagne Demain, je retourne à la campagne Tomorrow me return [noun] countryside Tomorrow, I return to the countryside
Vous pas argent moi stop travail Si vous ne me payez pas, j'arrêterai de travailler You no money, Me stop work If you don't pay me, I'll stop working
Monsieur content aller danser Monsieur est content d'aller danser Mister happy to go to dance The gentleman is happy to go dance
Lui la frapper Il la frappe Him to hit her He hits her
Bon pas aller Bon, n'y va pas Good, not to go Good, don't go
Pas travail Je ne travaillerai pas No work I won't work
Assez, pas connaître Assez, je n'en sais rien Enough, not to know Enough, I don't know
Moi compris toi parler J'ai compris ce que tu as dit Me understood you speaking I've understood what you've said

(Bickerton 1995: 163) [1]

Other Languages
čeština: Tây Bồi
Deutsch: Tây Bồi
français: Tây Bồi
Piemontèis: Lenga tay boi
svenska: Tây Bồi
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Tây bồi
中文: 越南法语