American English and Vietnamese Use in Public Signs: A Pragmatic Cultural Comparison and Translation


  • Linh Ngoc Truong Pham HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities


Public signs, Cultural schemas, Pragmatics, American English, Vietnamese, Translation


English public signs represent the development and welcome of Vietnam to visitors around the world. However, the Vietnamese-English public sign translation currently has many drawbacks, one of which is a lack of cultural and pragmatic factors to be taken into account. In order to improve the practice, a comparison of American English and Vietnamese use in public signs has been made, applying the framework of a pragmatic set by Sharifian (2017), which supports the idea that the public signs are realizations (practs) of the pragmemes underlying the situational contexts associated with some certain speech acts that can be precisely interpreted based on some pragmatic cultural schemas such as directing, prompting, and compelling. With the help of the street view tool on google maps, a corpus of more than 800 English public signs (in the US) and more than 800 Vietnamese ones (in Vietnam) is created for further corpus-based, metadiscourse, and contrastive analyses. The results show that both American English and Vietnamese pragmatic cultural schemas activate the same speech acts manifested in public signs. The differences are notified in the pragmemes related to territory indication, restriction, reminding, warning, command, and prohibition; also in the formulation and enactment of the practs. Many applications to translation of public signs from Vietnamese into English are also suggested at the end of the article.

Author Biography

Linh Ngoc Truong Pham, HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities

Linh Ngoc Truong Pham is a Ph.D. student in the Faculty of Linguistics at Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He majors in TESOL. His research interests include cultural linguistics, English language teaching, Vietnamese-English contrastive analysis. He has published several papers in English vocabulary teaching, translation, stylistics, and culture.


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How to Cite

Pham, N. T. L. (2021). American English and Vietnamese Use in Public Signs: A Pragmatic Cultural Comparison and Translation. International Journal of TESOL & Education, 1(3), 14–36. Retrieved from