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Vietnamese octogenarian fluent in four languages

Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 15:48 GMT+7

An old beverage vendor has wowed locals with her talent for languages.

Nguyen Thi Dinh, a beverage seller and resident of Ho Chi Minh City’s District 4, can communicate fluently in English, French, Chinese, and Khmer at the age of 88.

Admiring her multilingual ability, many locals and expats have given her the nickname ‘Co Ba’ as a sign of friendship.

Currently, she sells drinks at the Tran Hung Dao-Pham Ngu Lao intersection, next to 23-9 Park in District 1.

Dinh said that she was born in Tay Ninh, a southern province bordering Cambodia, and so had many chances to interact with Cambodian people, quickly developing her competence in Khmer, the national language of Cambodia.

In 1970, she recalled moving to Cho Lon in Ho Chi Minh City, where Chinese people had settled, and started selling drinks in a coffee shop owned by one of her relatives, attributing this to her ability to also speak Chinese.

In her spare time, Dinh did beauty treatments for the wives of the rich, who were English and French, so her command of these languages also quickly improved.

Currently, Dinh lives with her husband Nguyen Van Ba on Ton That Thuyet Street in District 4, is fluent in French and English and has been chatting with foreign customers since she started selling drinks to expats at the Tran Hung Dao-Pham Ngu Lao intersection next to 23-9 Park in June 1975.

Dinh has three children and four grandchildren, all fully-grown and successful in their own careers.

Nguyen Thi Thao, her oldest granddaughter, is studying for her doctorate.

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