An Extended Concept List of Vietnamese

As part of our ongoing endeavour to expand the possible mappings in Concepticon, I introduce an extended concept list of Vietnamese based on the Intercontinental Dictionary Series (IDS). The list includes elicitation glosses for 1,310 concepts that can be used as a reference to add more data or for comparative analyses. Here, I present the creation of the list and its content.

1 Introduction

The Concepticon includes 3,924 concept sets in its current version (v3.2, List et al. 2024, and concept lists with elicitation glosses in a variety of languages such as English, Spanish, German and Russian are mapped to concept sets such as 906 TREE or 3626 KNOW. Two of the largest lists in terms of the number of concepts and languages, for which elicitation glosses are available, are the Intercontinental Dictionary Series (IDS, Key & Comrie 2023, and the World Loanword Database (WOLD, Haspelmath & Tadmor 2009, Due to their large scope, the lists are often used as a reference point to map glosses from other concept lists to their respective Concepticon concept set and they contribute to the decisions made by the automated mapping algorithm established in the cross-linguistic database of Norms, Ratings, and Relations of Words and Concepts (NoRaRe, Tjuka et al. 2022; 2023, However, IDS and WOLD offer only partial coverage of Vietnamese glosses and the lists are not exhaustive.

Following List (2020), I used the 1,310 concepts from IDS (Key & Comrie 2023) as a starting point to build an elicitation list for Vietnamese. When deciding on the Vietnamese elicitation glosses for the concepts, I had to carefully consider both linguistic accuracy and context. I used two English-Vietnamese online dictionaries that contain not only translations but also example sentences and are commonly accepted in the Vietnamese community: The Free Vietnamese Dictionary Project (Duc et al. 2004, and the Laban Dictionary ( This allowed me to ensure that each elicitation gloss reflects a given concept. To increase accuracy, I compared my glosses with the Vietnamese dictionary by Ilya Peiros provided in IDS v4.3. However, this list contained fewer items (774 elicitation glosses) and some glosses which I did not find in the dictionaries or for which I could not find context examples. I therefore added the missing glosses and sometimes used alternative glosses where it seemed appropriate. In addition, part of the glosses were double-checked with native Vietnamese speakers. However, not all elicitation glosses have been checked and the remaining errors are the sole responsibility of the author.

2 Structure and Content of the Extended Vietnamese Concept List

I aimed to streamline the elicitation glosses so that in most cases only one gloss is given for a corresponding concept. There are a few cases where this was not possible, for example, the concept SHOW corresponds to cho xem or cho thấy depending on the context. Examples (1) and (2) illustrate the different uses of the two word forms.

(1) Bức ảnh cho thấy cô ta mặc đồ đen.
      The photo shows her dressed in black.
(2) Anh cho tôi xem những bức ảnh của anh.
     He showed me his pictures. 

Vietnamese also has a complex pronoun system that is more detailed than its English or German counterparts. The concept YOU (SINGULAR) corresponds to anh ‘older brother’, chị ‘older sister’, ông ‘grandfather’, ‘grandmother’, and other Vietnamese kinship terms used as personal pronouns (Sidnell & Shohet 2013). Vietnamese also has an extensive classifier system, for example, con for animals, quả for fruits and round things or cái for tools and furniture. I made an effort to use the classifiers consistently. For some glosses, I used commas and parentheses. Commas indicate that two glosses mean the same concept. For example, the concept DITCH can be expressed with hào or mương. Parentheses mean that the part in parentheses can also be omitted. It is often the case that a morpheme of a word is omitted from the sentence if the context allows it. For example, the concept KNEEL can be expressed with quỳ xuống or just quỳ.

The extended Vietnamese concept list has been published on Zenodo and the resource is freely accessible here:

3 Conclusion and Outlook

The concept list for Vietnamese will be integrated into Concepticon (List et al. 2016; Tjuka et al. 2023). This will broaden the scope of available mappings, offering researchers an enriched dataset for language comparison. By adding Vietnamese elicitation glosses to Concepticon, we are expanding the multilingual mapping of the resource and enabling an additional language for the automated mapping in NoRaRe (Tjuka et al. 2022; 2023). The next step would be to incorporate phonetic transcriptions and create a word list that can be integrated into Lexibank (List et al. 2022).

The approach presented here and in List (2020) can be used to add a more diverse set of glossing languages to Concepticon in the future.

Supplementary Material

Tjuka, Annika (2024). Concept list of Vietnamese based on the Intercontinental Dictionary Series (IDS) [Data set]. Zenodo.


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Haspelmath, Martin & Uri Tadmor. 2009. World Loanword Database. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Key, Mary Ritchie & Comrie, Bernard (eds.) 2023. The Intercontinental Dictionary Series. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

List, Johann Mattis, Annika Tjuka, Mathilda van Zantwijk, Frederic Blum, Carlos Barrientos Ugarte, Christoph Rzymski, Simon Greenhill & Robert Forkel (eds.). 2024. Concepticon. A Resource for the Linking of Concept Lists (Version 3.2). Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

List, Johann-Mattis, Robert Forkel, Simon J. Greenhill, Christoph Rzymski, Johannes Englisch & Russell D. Gray. 2022. Lexibank, a Public Repository of Standardized Wordlists with Computed Phonological and Lexical Features. Scientific Data 9(1). 1-16.

List, Johann-Mattis. 2020. Towards a refined wordlist of German in the Intercontinental Dictionary Series. Computer-Assisted Language Comparison in Practice 3(10). 1-2.

List, Johann-Mattis, Michael Cysouw & Robert Forkel. 2016. Concepticon: A Resource for the Linking of Concept Lists. In Nicoletta Calzolari, Khalid Choukri, Thierry Declerck, Marko Grobelnik, Bente Maegaard, Joseph Mariani, Asuncion Moreno, Jan Odijk & Stelios Piperidis (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, 2393–2400. Portorož, Slovenia: European Language Resources Association.

Sidnell, Jack & Merav Shohet. 2013. The Problem of Peers in Vietnamese Interaction. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(3). 618–638.

Tjuka, Annika, Robert Forkel & Johann-Mattis List. 2023. Curating and Extending Data for Language Comparison in Concepticon and NoRaRe. Open Research Europe 2(141). 1–13.

Tjuka, Annika, Robert Forkel & Johann-Mattis List. 2022. Linking Norms, Ratings, and Relations of Words and Concepts Across Multiple Language Varieties. Behavior Research Methods 54. 864–884.

Cite this article as: Annika Tjuka, “An Extended Concept List of Vietnamese,” in Computer-Assisted Language Comparison in Practice, 7.1: 47-49 [first published on 19/06/2024], URL:, DOI: 10.15475/calcip.2024.1.6.

Download the article as PDF: calcip-07-1-06.pdf

Copyright information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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About Annika Tjuka

My main goal is to answer questions about linguistic diversity with a focus on language variation in word meanings. I have a BA and MA degree in linguistics from the Humboldt University Berlin and am currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Jena. I am a language scientist studying patterns and causes of words with multiple meanings. For my work, I use data from language documentation, large-scale databases, and computational methods. In my Master’s thesis, I conducted the first systematic study of body part extensions such as table leg and foot of the mountain. I examined the frequency of 95 expressions in 13 languages and the preferences for underlying analogy patterns based on similarity in shape, spatial orientation, and function. The first project of my doctoral research established the Database of Cross-Linguistic Norms, Ratings, and Relations for Words and Concepts (NoRaRe), which contains 98 datasets from linguistics and psychology across 40 languages including 65 word properties.

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