How to say ‘Where are you from?’ in Hmong
To ask, ‘Where are you from?” in Hmong you would use the phrase:
Koj tuaj qhovtwg tuaj?Where are you from? / Where did you come from?
And you would answer with:
Kuv tuaj (name of place) tuaj.I come from (name of place).
Why the extra ‘tuaj?’
Many wonder, why do you have to have an extra ‘tuaj’ at the end? That doesn’t make sense. Isn’t that redundant?
Not exactly. In Hmong, often a verb, or action, will require another verb to show how that first verb was completed. This pattern is as shown below:
ACTION + OBJECT + ACTION (completed)Action, or verb is done to an object (a thing, person, place, etc). Then a verb follows to show how the action is completed.
We have this in English as well. For example:
Send them away.‘Away’ shows the direction they were sent.
Send them here.‘Here’ shows the direction they were sent.
Instead of looking at the ‘tuaj qhovtwg tuaj’ example, let’s look at the above English example in Hmong. This will help us understand the idea more easily.
Txib lawv mus.Send them go (away).
Txib lawv tuaj.Send them come (here).
In this case, there is the action word ‘txib’ which means to send someone on a mission or to complete a task.
Next is the OBJECT – ‘lawv,’ which means ‘them.’
Finally is either the word ‘mus,’ or ‘tuaj,’ which means ‘go,’ or ‘come,’ respectively. Either of these words show how an action is completed.
Now let’s look back at our original example:
Koj tuaj qhovtwg tuaj?You come where come?
The first ACTION word is ‘tuaj,’ to ‘come.’ After that is the OBJECT of that action, ‘qhovtwg’ which means ‘where?’ Then, finally, the big question. How was the action ‘come’ completed? In this case, as strange as it sounds, by the exact same word, ‘tuaj.’ It is similar to the sentence ‘txib lawv tuaj.’ The second instance of the word is showing the direction: ‘You came from another location TO this location’
Whatever the case, as strange as it may sound in English, it is necessary in Hmong to complete the thought and make it a complete sentence.
I this makes sense, please leave a comment below if you have more questions.