Vietnamese language

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tiếng Việt
Pronunciation[tĭəŋ vìəˀt] (Northern)
[tǐəŋ jìək] (Southern)
Native toVietnam
Native speakers
75 million (2007)[1]
Latin (Vietnamese alphabet)
Vietnamese Braille
Chữ nôm (used to limited extent)
Official status
Official language in
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1vi
ISO 639-2vie
ISO 639-3vie
Natively Vietnamese-speaking areas.png
Natively Vietnamese-speaking (non-minority) areas of Vietnam[4]
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Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt) is the official language of Vietnam.

History and development[change | change source]

Influences[change | change source]

Like many languages from Asia the Vietnamese language is a tonal language. It has been strongly changed by Chinese languages.[5] The Vietnamese language has shared history with other languages such as Khmer. Today, it uses a Latin alphabet based on the French alphabet. The Vietnamese alphabet was once based on Chinese characters. It is called Chữ Nôm.[5] Fewer people know Chữ Nôm today.[5] Most Chinese speakers who live in Vietnam now use regular Chinese script for calligraphy. Some traditional calligraphy artists can still be found.[5] For example, Ho Chi Minh City has a district famous for its popular Chinatown. In modern times Vietnamese adds new words that are needed. With more engineering, science, and academics many words are taken from these professions. Also there has been an increase in media use. Some social words taken from media are now accepted as common.[6]

Language System[change | change source]

Spoken[change | change source]

The spoken language of Vietnam changes between each province. The greater the distance between provinces the stronger the difference. The difference between Hanoian and the Mekong is called a dialect difference. Nowadays, the national education for all of Vietnam includes the Hanoian dialect. However, each ethnic tribe may still use a different dialect, language, or vocabulary.

In computers[change | change source]

There are speaking programs that use the Vietnamese language. A computer add-on for the Firefox web browser can read text with the 'vietnamization' that is needed. It's called Vietnamese TTS (Text to Speech). Audio libraries are available to reproduce the Vietnamese language. Google translate uses a TTS reader and sound library to read Vietnamese in simple sentences. Portable electronic translators are also very popular. Kim Tu Dien makes the most common portable dictionary for the Vietnamese market.

Script[change | change source]

Alphabet[change | change source]

The Vietnamese alphabet (In Vietnamese: "Chữ Quốc ngữ", means "The National Scripts").

Vietnamese diphthong[change | change source]

The combination of two vowels makes a diphthong. The dipthongs used in the Vietnamese language have some rules when used. For example, one rule states where the singular tone for both letters must be placed.

Vietnamese triphthong[change | change source]

There are more triphthongs in Vietnamese than English. 'uye' is included.

Vietnamese syllables[change | change source]

The syllables refers to the Chinese use of two characters as syllables. So, Hong is one and Kong the other. Vietnamese also uses one syllable as a word. In the same way as English, people can say just 'go'. For more emphasis (in Vietnamese) it could be said twice. The use of the syllable twice is from the history of languages for Asia. Some Australian Aboriginal languages are known do the same thing. So, 'go - go' (Vietnamese: đi đi) means "go now", in a higher strength. But also, 'go' is enough in Vietnamese. Many single syllables are used by the Vietnamese language. They can form sentences without pairing with other syllables as they do in Chinese. Readers (and speakers) still notice that many syllables, in most sentences, are paired.

Vietnamization (Make it sounds like "Vietnamese")[change | change source]

Many words from around the world were needed in Vietnamese. Sushi is a common word used by most languages. When a word is vietnamized, it is changed to sound Vietnamese. China uses the same idea: Ao-da-li-ya in Pinyin means Australia.

The first rule[change | change source]

The first rule for vietnamization is that 'no Vietnamese word/syllable is broken by a consonant'.[7] E.g. (Việt Nam). An example of how to break a foreign word into two syllables is mô tô which is used for motorbike. It's not the most common word for motorbike, but it is accepted. This word is a vietnamized version of 'motor' and 'auto'(ô tô). However, the rule is not always right, e.g. lôgic. When introducing a common foreign word, people 'vietnamize' the word in at least one spoken demonstration for Vietnamese listeners.

  • This rule should explain a problem with the foreign use of the family name "Nguyen". It is not New Yen! Y is not a consonant in Vietnam. A better explanation is by comparing the English name Ian to any name with Yen( e.g. Yến). This use of Y has an equal in English: many, penny, etc. use the vowel 'y'.

The second rule[change | change source]

The second (softer) rule for vietnamization is that the sound of each syllable must be made 'a little closer to Viet sounds'. The second rule is made to work by adding the tone marks for vowel letters. For example: lôgic is an alteration of 'logic'. It would be needed to teach a couple of school and science subjects. Computer science uses this word.

Exceptions[change | change source]

Any word can be made an exception to vietnamization. Names like Barack Obama, or Bill Clinton might be attempted by all Vietnamese speakers. In writing, these foreign names will mostly stay together (intact). Names like David are easy for Vietnamese people to say, and have become very popular in English-class writing.

Grammar[change | change source]

Exclamations[change | change source]

Exclamations words are very popular in Vietnamese.[8] People can use exclamations as an introduction to more things to be said. Or people can pass a comment (after saying something) with a quick exclamation. The exclamation word may express a feeling or just be an expression.

Conjunctions[change | change source]

Conjunctions are used in Vietnamese.[9]

References[change | change source]

  1. Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. Citizens belonging to minorities, which traditionally and on long-term basis live within the territory of the Czech Republic, enjoy the right to use their language in communication with authorities and in front of the courts of law (for the list of recognized minorities see National Minorities Policy of the Government of the Czech Republic, Belorussian and Vietnamese since 4 July 2013, see Česko má nové oficiální národnostní menšiny. Vietnamce a Bělorusy). The article 25 of the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms ensures right of the national and ethnic minorities for education and communication with authorities in their own language. Act No. 500/2004 Coll. (The Administrative Rule) in its paragraph 16 (4) (Procedural Language) ensures, that a citizen of the Czech Republic, who belongs to a national or an ethnic minority, which traditionally and on long-term basis lives within the territory of the Czech Republic, have right to address an administrative agency and proceed before it in the language of the minority. In the case that the administrative agency doesn't have an employee with knowledge of the language, the agency is bound to obtain a translator at the agency's own expense. According to Act No. 273/2001 (About The Rights of Members of Minorities) paragraph 9 (The right to use language of a national minority in dealing with authorities and in front of the courts of law) the same applies for the members of national minorities also in front of the courts of law.
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Vietnamese". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. From Ethnologue (2009, 2013)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Vietnamese Chu Nom script".