Does anyone know the actual origin of this word? I can't help thinking of the Italian 'Ciao' and wonder whether it is a coincidence or not... Thanks.
It's arguable. Just like the word "Phở" could have the origin from "pot-au-feu", the origin of "chào" is yet to be known but denying its connection like this Wikipedia article is not credible.
I see what you mean. It is interesting that, according to the reference from above, 'chao' in Japanese is linked to 'ciao' but not the one from Vietnamese. I would not be surprised if the Vietnamese did not get it from the French who got it from the Italians! Enjoy the lingot!
Chào again. I see; thanks for shedding light on my ignorance! I am glad to see that there are plenty of venues through which the word could have made it from Italy to Vietnam!
Did I miss anything? Do you know of any Vietnamese links/ties to Portugal/Brazil prior to modern times? If I had to pick a second source, it would have been Japan. Of course, my assumption that a common expression as "Hello" would go further than modern times (given the divergence in political views during modern era as well as the lack of "official" origin of the word) could very well be wrong.
If anything (this is merely a hypothesis), the link would be somewhere from French, which I have yet to study. Since Vietnam was colonized under the French, it is very likely that if French, a Romance language like Italian and Portuguese (which both have Ciao and Tchau respectively), had such an expression, it's also likely that Vietnam would have picked it up. Now that I think about it, if my hypothesis is true, then maybe the other French Indochinese countries may have it too. This is a good question to research.
Ciao was also taken directly to French as a loan word, same meaning, spelling, etc.
I lived in Colombia and they say "Ciao" as a form of informal farewell as well. I would be curious to see its origins within the context of Romance languages. I remember that I first heard it when I visited Italy as a child.
When I lived in Normandy, in France, it was common to say "Tchao" when leaving. Of course, Vietnam was a French colony, so my guess would be from where it originated in Vietnam.
In northern Thai, they say "Sawadee Chao/Jao" for "hello", so I suspect they share the same origin.
There are some words from my Thai friends that sound exactly the same. I only remember "đồi" (small mountain?). It's the exchange of vocabulary during the old times but not necessary means two languages have the same root.
You are correct; many languages have words that sound similar or exactly to words from other languages yet they seem to have nothing in common. In this thread, I was interested in those that might...
It was simply because of colonialism, trade and migration (pre-1945 period). Words don't usually sound similar and mean the same concept by chance. The constant moving and trading among people of Asia in those early days played an important role. For example, I learned that Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian languages all carry some words originated from Cantonese due to the migration of people from southeastern part of China in 19th century.
That makes sense. Similar stories occurred in Europe, Africa, South America and few other places. The fun puzzle to me is to figure out some of the basic words that preserved their meaning across cultures. For example, I am amazed on how thousands of years old Hebrew concepts are preserved in the Chinese language...
Stumiller, Thanks for adding yet another language to the list of those using the word!
Likely not, cao in northern thai is used like a polite particle similar to kha/khrap/ca, when used on its own means something like 'yes' or 'mmhmm', and has no actual meaning.