Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Yuon is neutral word to refer to Vietnam, not a racist epithet



Yuon is neutral word to refer to Vietnam, not a racist epithet

Yuon is neutral word to refer to Vietnam, not a racist epithet

Editor’s note: The decision to characterise the term yuon as a racist epithet when used to describe the country of Vietnam or its citizens in the story ‘Sam Rainsy declares border victory’ (February 2, 2010) by Meas Sokchea was made by the editors of The Phnom Penh Post. We invite all readers to register their opinions on this issue and urge them to direct their comments to the editors of the newspaper and not individual reporters, who played no role in determining editorial policy on this matter.

Dear Editor,

I am dismayed at Sokchea Meas’s ignorance of the meaning of the word yuon (“Sam Rainsy declares border victory”, February 2, 2010). As a Cambodian, Mr Meas should have known clearly that this word had existed in the Khmer vocabulary since time immemorial, even before the existence of the word “Vietnam” and that the meaning of the word is not “a racist epithet”.

The word yuon we Cambodians use to describe the Vietnamese people is equivalent to the word mien the Vietnamese people use to describe the Khmer people. If the Vietnamese are offended by the word yuon, then should we Khmer be offended by the word mien that they use to describe us?

The word yuon is a neutral vocabulary. It does not carry any racist connotations. If anything at all, it is just a slang word equivalent to the words “Aussie” for the Australians, “Yankee” for the Americans, “Pommie” for the English or “Kiwi” for the New Zealanders, etc.

Also, the word yuon is a Khmer word we use to call the Vietnamese, while the word Vietnam is a Vietnamese word the Vietnamese people use to describe themselves. If the Vietnamese are offended by the word yuon, should the French be offended when the English people called them French instead of the French words “Francais” or “Francaise”? Or vice versa, should the English people feel offended when the French people call them “Anglais” or “Anglaise” instead of “English”?

The Thai call Khmer kmen, not Khmers, and we don’t feel offended. But when Khmer people call Thai people siem (derived from the word Siam), the world thinks that we are racist. The world has always looked at Cambodians as the villains with regard to Khmer-Vietnamese relations and Khmer-Thai relations. It is not fair.

I hope The Phnom Penh Post can be clear on the definition of the word yuon from now on.

For your information, I’d like to draw your attention to a detailed article by Kenneth T So regarding the definition of the word yuon:
http://khmerization.blogspot.com/2008/01/is-using-word-yuon-justified-an...

Khmerization
Phnom Penh

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • First Khmer woman to pass out of West Point

    The life of a soldier certainly isn’t for everyone. The training is gruelling, the hours long and there’s no room for excuses. On top of that, soldiers must be ready to respond to sudden threats at a moment’s notice. Just ask Sithyka

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last