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Vietnamese ( vi, tiếng Việt, links=no) is an
Austroasiatic language The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. There are around 117 million speakers of Austroasi ...
that originated in
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
, where it is the
national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
and
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciary ...

official language
. Vietnamese is spoken natively by over 70 million people, several times as many as the rest of the Austroasiatic family combined. It is the
native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), g ...
of the
Vietnamese (Kinh) people
Vietnamese (Kinh) people
, as well as a
second The second (symbol: s, also abbreviated: sec) is the of in the (SI) (french: Système International d’unités), commonly understood and historically defined as of a – this factor derived from the division of the day first into 24 s, th ...
language or
first First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill ...
language for other ethnic groups in Vietnam. As a result of
emigration Emigration is the act of leaving a resident country or place of residence with the intent to settle elsewhere (to permanently leave a country). Conversely, immigration Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination c ...
, Vietnamese speakers are also found in other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It ...
. Like many other languages in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
and
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, Vietnamese is an
analytic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...
with phonemic
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness In colorimetry and color theory, lightness, also known as value or tone, is a representation of a color's brightness. It is ...
. It has head-initial directionality, with
subject–verb–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
order and modifiers following the words they modify. It also uses noun classifiers. Its vocabulary has had significant influence from
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
and
French
French
. Vietnamese was historically written using , a
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
script using
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
to represent
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
and some native Vietnamese words, together with many locally-invented characters to represent other words. French colonial rule of Vietnam led to the official adoption of the
Vietnamese alphabet The Vietnamese alphabet ( vi, chữ Quốc ngữ, "script of the national language") is the modern Latin writing script or writing system for Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast ...
() which is based on
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscan civilizat ...

Latin script
. It uses
digraphs Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography) A digraph or digram (from the el, δίς ', "double" and ', "to write") is a pair of characters used in the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a m ...
and
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
s to mark
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness Lightness is a visual perception of the luminance (L) of an object. It is often judged relative to a similarly lit object. ...
s and some phonemes.


Classification

Early linguistic work some 150 years ago classified Vietnamese as belonging to the
Mon–Khmer The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and southern China. There are around 117 million speakers of Austroasi ...
branch of the Austroasiatic language family (which also includes the
Khmer
Khmer
language spoken in
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...

Cambodia
, as well as various smaller and/or
regional language A regional language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
s, such as the Munda and Khasi languages spoken in eastern India, and others in
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...

Laos
, southern China and parts of Thailand). Later, Muong was found to be more closely related to Vietnamese than other Mon–Khmer languages, and a Viet–Muong subgrouping was established, also including Thavung, Chut, Cuoi, etc. The term "Vietic" was proposed by Hayes (1992), who proposed to redefine Viet–Muong as referring to a subbranch of Vietic containing only Vietnamese and Muong. The term "
Vietic The Vietic languages are a branch of the Austroasiatic languages, Austroasiatic language family. The branch was once referred to by the terms ''Việt–Mường'', ''Annamese–Muong'', and ''Vietnamuong''; the term ''Vietic'' was proposed by L ...
" is used, among others, by
Gérard Diffloth Gérard Diffloth (born in Châteauroux, France, 1939) is a retired linguistics professor, formerly of the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, and Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA, after a dissertation on th ...
, with a slightly different proposal on subclassification, within which the term "Viet–Muong" refers to a lower subgrouping (within an eastern Vietic branch) consisting of Vietnamese dialects, Muong dialects, and Nguồn (of
Quảng Bình Province Quảng Bình (), formerly Tiên Bình under the reign of Lê Trung Hưng of the Lê dynasty (this province was renamed Quảng Bình in 1604), is a Provinces of Vietnam, province along North Central Coast, Vietnam's north-central coast. The provi ...
).


History

Vietnamese belongs to the Northern (Viet–Muong) clusters of the
Vietic The Vietic languages are a branch of the Austroasiatic languages, Austroasiatic language family. The branch was once referred to by the terms ''Việt–Mường'', ''Annamese–Muong'', and ''Vietnamuong''; the term ''Vietic'' was proposed by L ...
branch, spoken by the Vietic peoples. In the distant past, Vietnamese shared more characteristics common to other languages in South East Asia and with the Austroasiatic family, such as an inflectional
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
and a richer set of
consonant cluster In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the metho ...
s, which have subsequently disappeared from the language under Chinese influence. Vietnamese is heavily influenced by its location in the
Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area The Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area is a sprachbund A sprachbund (, lit. "language federation"), also known as a linguistic area, area of linguistic convergence, diffusion area or language crossroads, is a group of language A languag ...
, with the result that it has acquired or converged toward characteristics such as isolating morphology and phonemically distinctive tones, through processes of
tonogenesis Tone is the use of pitch in language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system compo ...
. These characteristics have become part of many of the genetically unrelated languages of Southeast Asia; for example, Tsat (a member of the
Malayo-Polynesian The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the Austronesian peoples outside of Taiwan, in the island nations of Southeast A ...
group within
Austronesian Austronesian may refer to: *The Austronesian languages *The historical Austronesian peoples who carried Austronesian languages on their migrations {{disambiguation ...
), and Vietnamese each developed tones as a phonemic feature. The ancestor of the Vietnamese language is usually believed to have been originally based in the area of the
Red River Delta The Red River Delta or Hong River Delta ( vi, Châu thổ sông Hồng) is the flat low-lying plain formed by the Red River and its distributaries merging with the Thái Bình River in northern Vietnam , image_map = , m ...
in what is now northern Vietnam. Distinctive tonal variations emerged during the subsequent expansion of the Vietnamese language and people into what is now central and southern Vietnam through conquest of the ancient nation of
Champa Champa (Cham Cham or CHAM may refer to: Ethnicities and languages *Chams The Chams or Cham people ( Cham: ''Urang Campa'' / ꨂꨣꩃ ꨌꩌꨛꨩ, vi, người Chăm or người Chàm, km, ជនជាតិចាម), are an ethni ...

Champa
and the
Khmer people Khmer people (; km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរ, , Northern Khmer pronunciation: ) are a Southeast Asia Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is the United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asi ...
of the
Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta ( vi, Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long, literally ''Nine Dragon river delta'' or simply vi, Đồng Bằng Sông Mê Kông, "Mekong river delta"), also known as the Western Region ( vi, Miền Tây) or South-western region ( vi ...

Mekong Delta
in the vicinity of present-day
Ho Chi Minh City , population_density_km2 = 4292 , population_density_metro_km2 = 697.2 , population_demonym = Saigonese , demographics_type1 = List of ethnic groups in Vietnam, Ethnic groups , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title ...

Ho Chi Minh City
, also known as Saigon. Vietnamese was primarily influenced by Chinese, which came to predominate politically in the 2nd century BC. After Vietnam achieved independence in the 10th century, the ruling class adopted
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; Written vernacular Chinese, modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the cla ...
as the formal medium of government, scholarship and literature. With the dominance of Chinese came radical importation of Chinese vocabulary and grammatical influence. A portion of the Vietnamese lexicon in all realms consists of Sino-Vietnamese words (They are about a third of the Vietnamese lexicon, and may account for as much as 60% of the vocabulary used in formal texts.) When France invaded Vietnam in the late 19th century, French gradually replaced Chinese as the official language in education and government. Vietnamese adopted many French terms, such as ''đầm'' (dame, from ''madame''), ''ga'' (train station, from ''gare''), ''sơ mi'' (shirt, from ''chemise''), and ''búp bê'' (doll, from ''poupée'').
Henri Maspero Henri Paul Gaston Maspero (15 December 188317 March 1945) was a French sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
described six periods of the Vietnamese language: #Proto-Viet–Muong, also known as ''Pre-Vietnamese'' or ''Proto-Vietnamuong'', the ancestor of Vietnamese and the related
Muong language Muong (') is a group of dialects spoken by the Mường people of Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi ...
(before 7th century AD). #Proto-Vietnamese, the oldest reconstructable version of Vietnamese, dated to just before the entry of massive amounts of
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
into the language, c. 7th to 9th century AD. At this state, the language had three tones. #Archaic Vietnamese, the state of the language upon adoption of the
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
and the beginning of creation of the Vietnamese characters during the Ngô Dynasty, c. 10th century AD. #Ancient Vietnamese, the language represented by
Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic writing system formerly used to write the Vietnamese language. It uses borrowed Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, while n ...
(c. 15th century), widely used during the Lê and the Chinese–Vietnamese, and the Ming glossary "Annanguo Yiyu" 安南國譯語 (c. 15th century) by the Bureau of Interpreters 会同馆 (from the series ''Huáyí Yìyǔ'' (). By this point, a
tone split The Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area is a sprachbund A sprachbund (, lit. "language federation"), also known as a linguistic area, area of linguistic convergence, diffusion area or language crossroads, is a group of language A languag ...
had happened in the language, leading to six tones but a loss of contrastive voicing among consonants. #Middle Vietnamese, the language of the ''
Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum page=8, First page of ''Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum''. The ''Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum'' (known in Vietnamese as ') is a trilingual Vietnamese- Portuguese-Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language ...

Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum
'' of the Jesuit missionary
Alexandre de Rhodes Alexandre de Rhodes (15 March 1593 – 5 November 1660) was an Avignonese Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbre ...
(c. 17th century); the dictionary was published in Rome in 1651. Another famous dictionary of this period was written by P. J. Pigneau de Behaine in 1773 and published by Jean-Louis Taberd in 1838. #Modern Vietnamese, from the 19th century.


Proto-Viet–Muong

The following diagram shows the phonology of Proto-Viet–Muong (the nearest ancestor of Vietnamese and the closely related
Muong language Muong (') is a group of dialects spoken by the Mường people of Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi ...
), along with the outcomes in the modern language: . . . . : According to Ferlus, * and * are not accepted by all researchers. Ferlus 1992 also had additional phonemes * and *. The fricatives indicated above in parentheses developed as allophones of stop consonants occurring between vowels (i.e. when a
minor syllable Primarily in Austroasiatic languages The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Si ...
occurred). These fricatives were not present in Proto-Viet–Muong, as indicated by their absence in Muong, but were evidently present in the later Proto-Vietnamese stage. Subsequent loss of the minor-syllable prefixes phonemicized the fricatives. Ferlus 1992 proposes that originally there were both voiced and voiceless fricatives, corresponding to original voiced or voiceless stops, but Ferlus 2009 appears to have abandoned that hypothesis, suggesting that stops were softened and voiced at approximately the same time, according to the following pattern: * > * > * > * > * > In Middle Vietnamese, the outcome of these sounds was written with a hooked ''b'' (ꞗ), representing a that was still distinct from ''v'' (then pronounced ). See below. It is unclear what this sound was. According to Ferlus 1992, in the Archaic Vietnamese period (c. 10th century AD, when
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
was borrowed) it was *, distinct at that time from *. The following initial clusters occurred, with outcomes indicated: * *pr, *br, *tr, *dr, *kr, *gr > > > ''s'' * *pl, *bl > MV ''bl'' > Northern ''gi'', Southern ''tr'' * *kl, *gl > MV ''tl'' > ''tr'' * *ml > MV ''ml'' > ''mnh'' > ''nh'' * *kj > ''gi'' A large number of words were borrowed from
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
, forming part of the
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
. These caused the original introduction of the retroflex sounds and (modern ''s'', ''tr'') into the language.


Origin of the tones

Proto-Viet–Muong had no tones to speak of. The tones later developed in some of the daughter languages from distinctions in the initial and final consonants. Vietnamese tones developed as follows: : Glottal-ending syllables ended with a glottal stop , while fricative-ending syllables ended with or . Both types of syllables could co-occur with a resonant (e.g. or ). At some point, a
tone split The Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area is a sprachbund A sprachbund (, lit. "language federation"), also known as a linguistic area, area of linguistic convergence, diffusion area or language crossroads, is a group of language A languag ...
occurred, as in many other
Southeast Asian languagesThere have been various classification schemes for Southeast Asian languages (see the articles for the respective language families). Language families The five established major language families are: * Kra–Dai * Austronesian *Austroasiatic ...
. Essentially, an
allophonic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ...
distinction developed in the tones, whereby the tones in syllables with voiced initials were pronounced differently from those with voiceless initials. (Approximately speaking, the voiced allotones were pronounced with additional
breathy voice Breathy voice (also called murmured voice, whispery voice, soughing and susurration) is a phonation The term phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, ''phonation'' is the p ...
or
creaky voice In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
and with lowered pitch. The quality difference predominates in today's northern varieties, e.g. in
Hanoi , population_total = 8,053,663 ( 2nd) , population_as_of = 2019 , population_demonym = Hanoian , population_density_km2 = auto , population_urban = 3,962,310 , population_density_urban_km2 = 14708.8 , popula ...

Hanoi
, while in the southern varieties the pitch difference predominates, as in
Ho Chi Minh City , population_density_km2 = 4292 , population_density_metro_km2 = 697.2 , population_demonym = Saigonese , demographics_type1 = List of ethnic groups in Vietnam, Ethnic groups , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title ...

Ho Chi Minh City
.) Subsequent to this, the plain-voiced stops became voiceless and the allotones became new phonemic tones. Note that the implosive stops were unaffected, and in fact developed tonally as if they were unvoiced. (This behavior is common to all East Asian languages with implosive stops.) As noted above, Proto-Viet–Muong had sesquisyllabic words with an initial
minor syllable Primarily in Austroasiatic languages The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Si ...
(in addition to, and independent of, initial clusters in the main syllable). When a minor syllable occurred, the main syllable's initial consonant was
intervocalic In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical pr ...
and as a result suffered
lenition In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
, becoming a voiced fricative. The minor syllables were eventually lost, but not until the tone split had occurred. As a result, words in modern Vietnamese with voiced fricatives occur in all six tones, and the tonal register reflects the voicing of the minor-syllable prefix and not the voicing of the main-syllable stop in Proto-Viet–Muong that produced the fricative. For similar reasons, words beginning with and occur in both registers. (Thompson 1976 reconstructed voiceless resonants to account for outcomes where resonants occur with a first-register tone, but this is no longer considered necessary, at least by Ferlus.)


Old Vietnamese

: Old Vietnamese/Ancient Vietnamese was a Vietic language which was separated from Viet–Muong around 9th century, and evolved to Middle Vietnamese by 16th century. The sources for the reconstruction of Old Vietnamese are texts, such as the 12th-century/1486 Buddhist scripture ''Phật thuyết Đại báo phụ mẫu ân trọng kinh'' ("Sūtra explained by the Buddha on the Great Repayment of the Heavy Debt to Parents"), old inscriptions, and late 13th-century (possibly 1293)
Annan Jishi
' glossary by Chinese diplomat Chen Fu (c. 1259 – 1309). Old Vietnamese used Chinese characters phonetically where each word, monosyllabic in Modern Vietnamese, is written with two Chinese characters or in a composite character made of two different characters. For examples, the modern Vietnamese word "trời" (heaven) was read as ''*plời'' in Old/Ancient Vietnamese.


Middle Vietnamese

The writing system used for Vietnamese is based closely on the system developed by
Alexandre de Rhodes Alexandre de Rhodes (15 March 1593 – 5 November 1660) was an Avignonese Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbre ...
for his 1651 ''
Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum page=8, First page of ''Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum''. The ''Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum'' (known in Vietnamese as ') is a trilingual Vietnamese- Portuguese-Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language ...

Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum
''. It reflects the pronunciation of the Vietnamese of Hanoi at that time, a stage commonly termed ''Middle Vietnamese'' (). The pronunciation of the "rime" of the syllable, i.e. all parts other than the initial consonant (optional glide, vowel nucleus, tone and final consonant), appears nearly identical between Middle Vietnamese and modern Hanoi pronunciation. On the other hand, the Middle Vietnamese pronunciation of the initial consonant differs greatly from all modern dialects, and in fact is significantly closer to the modern Saigon dialect than the modern Hanoi dialect. The following diagram shows the orthography and pronunciation of Middle Vietnamese: : occurs only at the end of a syllable.
This symbol, "Latin small letter ", looks like: . It has a rounded hook that starts halfway up the left side (where the top of the curved part of the b meets the vertical, straight part) and curves about 180 degrees counterclockwise, ending below the bottom-left corner.
does not occur at the beginning of a syllable, but can occur at the end of a syllable, where it is notated ''i'' or ''y'' (with the difference between the two often indicating differences in the quality or length of the preceding vowel), and after and , where it is notated ''ĕ''. This ''ĕ'', and the it notated, have disappeared from the modern language. Note that ''b'' and ''p'' never contrast in any position, suggesting that they are allophones. The language also has three clusters at the beginning of syllables, which have since disappeared: *''tl'' > modern ''tr'' *''bl'' > modern ''gi'' (Northern), ''tr'' (Southern) *''ml'' > ''mnh'' > modern ''nh'' Most of the unusual correspondences between spelling and modern pronunciation are explained by Middle Vietnamese. Note in particular: *de Rhodes' system has two different b letters, a regular b and a "hooked" b in which the upper section of the curved part of the b extends leftward past the vertical bar and curls down again in a semicircle. This apparently represented a
voiced bilabial fricative The voiced bilabial fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some Speech communication, spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is B. The offic ...

voiced bilabial fricative
. Within a century or so, both and had merged as , spelled as ''v''. *de Rhodes' system has a second medial glide that is written ''ĕ'' and appears in some words with initial ''d'' and hooked ''b''. These later disappear. *''đ'' was (and still is)
alveolar Alveolus (pl. alveoli, adj. alveolar) is a general anatomical term for a concave cavity or pit. Alveolus may refer to: In anatomy and zoology in general * Pulmonary alveolus A pulmonary alveolus (plural: alveoli, from Latin ''alveolus'', "littl ...

alveolar
, whereas ''d'' was dental. The choice of symbols was based on the dental rather than alveolar nature of and its
allophone In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particu ...
in Spanish and other Romance languages. The inconsistency with the symbols assigned to vs. was based on the lack of any such place distinction between the two, with the result that the
stop consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
appeared more "normal" than the fricative . In both cases, the
implosive Implosive consonants are a group of stop consonants (and possibly also some affricates) with a mixed glottalic ingressive and pulmonic egressive airstream mechanism.''Phonetics for communication disorders.'' Martin J. Ball and Nicole Müller. Rout ...
nature of the stops does not appear to have had any role in the choice of symbol. *''x'' was the alveolo-palatal fricative rather than the
dental Dental may refer to: * Having to do with teeth * Dentistry, a medical profession dealing with teeth * Dental consonant, in linguistics * Dental Records, an independent UK record label * Dental_hygienist, Dental Hygienist, a person who cleans teeth ...
of the modern language. In 17th-century
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
, the common language of the Jesuits, ''s'' was the (as still in much of Spain and some parts of Portugal), while ''x'' was a palatoalveolar . The similarity of apicoalveolar to the Vietnamese
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...
led to the assignment of ''s'' and ''x'' as above. De Rhodes's orthography also made use of an
apex Apex may refer to: Arts and media Fictional entities * Apex (comics), a teenaged super villainess in the Marvel Universe * Ape-X, a super-intelligent ape in the Squadron Supreme universe *Apex, a genetically-engineered human population in the TV s ...
diacritic, as in ''o᷄'' and ''u᷄'', to indicate a final labial-velar nasal , an allophone of that is peculiar to the Hanoi dialect to the present day. This diacritic is often mistaken for a tilde in modern reproductions of early Vietnamese writing.


Geographic distribution

As the national language, Vietnamese is the ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
'' in Vietnam. It is also spoken by the
Gin , United States, 2010) Gin is a Liquor, distilled alcoholic drink that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (''Juniperus communis''). Gin originated as a medicinal liquor made by monks and alchemists across Europe, particularly ...
traditionally residing on three islands (now joined to the mainland) off Dongxing in southern
Guangxi Province Guangxi (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, locate ...

Guangxi Province
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
. A large number of Vietnamese speakers also reside in neighboring countries of
Cambodia Cambodia (; also Kampuchea ; km, កម្ពុជា, ), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is in area, bordered by Thailand to Cambodia–T ...
and
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao language, Lao , recognised_languages = , languages_type = Spoken langua ...
. In the United States, Vietnamese is the fifth most spoken language, with over 1.5 million speakers, who are concentrated in a handful of states. It is the third most spoken language in Texas and Washington; fourth in Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia; and fifth in Arkansas and California. Vietnamese is the seventh most spoken language in Australia. In France, it is the most spoken Asian language and the eighth most spoken immigrant language at home.


Official status

Vietnamese is the sole official and national language of Vietnam. It is the first language of the majority of the Vietnamese population, as well as a first or second language for the country's ethnic minority groups. In the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It ...
, Vietnamese has been recognized as one of 14 minority languages, on the basis of communities that have resided in the country either traditionally or on a long-term basis. This status grants the Vietnamese community in the country a representative on the Government Council for Nationalities, an advisory body of the Czech Government for matters of policy towards national minorities and their members. It also grants the community the right to use Vietnamese with public authorities and in courts anywhere in the country.


As a foreign language

Vietnamese is increasingly being taught in schools and institutions outside of Vietnam, a large part which is contributed by its large diaspora. In countries with strongly established Vietnamese-speaking communities such as the United States, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the Czech Republic, Vietnamese language education largely serves as a cultural role to link descendants of Vietnamese immigrants to their ancestral culture. Meanwhile, in countries near Vietnam such as Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, the increased role of Vietnamese in foreign language education is largely due to the recent recovery of the Vietnamese economy. Since the 1980s, Vietnamese language schools () have been established for youth in many Vietnamese-speaking communities around the world, notably in the United States. Similarly, since the late 1980s, the Vietnamese-German community has enlisted the support of city governments to bring Vietnamese into high school curriculum for the purpose of teaching and reminding Vietnamese German students of their mother-tongue. Furthermore, there has also been a number of Germans studying Vietnamese due to increased economic investments and business.Vietnamese teaching and learning overwhelming Germany
Retrieved 2015-06-13.
Historic and stronger trade and diplomatic relations with Vietnam and a growing interest among the French Vietnamese population (one of France's most established non-European ethnic groups) of their ancestral culture have also led to an increasing number of institutions in France, including universities, to offer formal courses in the language.


Phonology


Vowels

Vietnamese has a large number of
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
s. Below is a
vowel diagram A vowel diagram or vowel chart is a schematic arrangement of the vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other b ...
of Vietnamese from Hanoi (including
centering diphthong A diphthong ( or ; from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''diphthongos'', literally "double sound" or "double tone"; from ''δίς'' "twice" and ''φθόγγος'' "sound"), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds w ...
s): : Front and central vowels (i, ê, e, ư, â, ơ, ă, a) are unrounded, whereas the back vowels (u, ô, o) are rounded. The vowels â and ă are pronounced very short, much shorter than the other vowels. Thus, ơ and â are basically pronounced the same except that ơ is of normal length while â is short – the same applies to the vowels long a and short ă .There are different descriptions of Hanoi vowels. Another common description is that of : : This description distinguishes four degrees of vowel height and a rounding contrast (rounded vs. unrounded) between back vowels. The relative shortness of ''ă'' and ''â'' would then be a secondary feature. Thompson describes the vowel ''ă'' as being slightly higher ( upper low) than ''a'' . The centering diphthongs are formed with only the three high vowels (i, ư, u). They are generally spelled as ia, ưa, ua when they end a word and are spelled iê, ươ, uô, respectively, when they are followed by a consonant. In addition to single vowels (or
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writ ...
s) and centering diphthongs, Vietnamese has closing
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
s and
triphthong In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical p ...
s. The closing diphthongs and triphthongs consist of a main vowel component followed by a shorter semivowel offglide or .The closing diphthongs and triphthongs as described by Thompson can be compared with the description above: : There are restrictions on the high offglides: cannot occur after a front vowel (i, ê, e) nucleus and cannot occur after a back vowel (u, ô, o) nucleus. : The correspondence between the orthography and pronunciation is complicated. For example, the offglide is usually written as ''i''; however, it may also be represented with ''y''. In addition, in the diphthongs and the letters ''y'' and ''i'' also indicate the pronunciation of the main vowel: ay = ă + , ai = a + . Thus, ''tay'' "hand" is while ''tai'' "ear" is . Similarly, u and o indicate different pronunciations of the main vowel: au = ă + , ao = a + . Thus, ''thau'' "brass" is while ''thao'' "raw silk" is .


Consonants

The consonants that occur in Vietnamese are listed below in the
Vietnamese orthography The Vietnamese alphabet ( vi, Chữ Quốc Ngữ, "script of the national language") is the modern Latin writing script or writing system for the Vietnamese language. It uses the Latin script based on Romance languages developed by Portuguese alph ...
with the phonetic pronunciation to the right. : Some consonant sounds are written with only one letter (like "p"), other consonant sounds are written with a
digraph Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography), a pair of characters used together to represent a single sound, such as "sh" in English * Orthographic ligature, the joining of two letters as a single glyph, such as "æ" * Digraph (computing), a grou ...
(like "ph"), and others are written with more than one letter or digraph (the velar stop is written variously as "c", "k", or "q"). Not all dialects of Vietnamese have the same consonant in a given word (although all dialects use the same spelling in the written language). See the language variation section for further elaboration. The analysis of syllable-final orthographic ''ch'' and ''nh'' in Vietnamese has had different analyses. One analysis has final ''ch'', ''nh'' as being phonemes contrasting with syllable-final ''t'', ''c'' and ''n'', ''ng'' and identifies final ''ch'' with the syllable-initial ''ch'' . The other analysis has final ''ch'' and ''nh'' as predictable
allophonic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ...
variants of the velar phonemes and that occur after the upper front vowels ''i'' and ''ê'' ; although they also occur after ''a'', but in such cases are believed to have resulted from an earlier ''e'' which diphthongized to ''ai'' (cf. ''ach'' from ''aic'', ''anh'' from ''aing''). (See Vietnamese phonology: Analysis of final ''ch'', ''nh'' for further details.)


Tones

Each Vietnamese syllable is pronounced with one of six inherent
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness Lightness is a visual perception of the luminance (L) of an object. It is often judged relative to a similarly lit object. ...
s, centered on the main vowel or group of vowels. Tones differ in: * length (duration) *
pitch contour __NOTOC__ In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysi ...
(i.e. pitch melody) * pitch height *
phonation The term phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—lingu ...
Tone is indicated by diacritics written above or below the vowel (most of the tone diacritics appear above the vowel; however, the ''nặng'' tone dot diacritic goes below the vowel). The six tones in the northern varieties (including Hanoi), with their self-referential Vietnamese names, are: Other dialects of Vietnamese may have fewer tones (typically only five). In Vietnamese poetry, tones are classed into two groups: ( tone pattern) Words with tones belonging to a particular tone group must occur in certain positions within the poetic verse. Vietnamese Catholics practice a distinctive style of prayer recitation called , in which each tone is assigned a specific note or sequence of notes.


Grammar

Vietnamese, like Chinese and many languages in Southeast Asia, is an
analytic language In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...
. Vietnamese does not use morphological marking of
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridge (firearms), cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or ...
,
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is a ...
,
number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduct ...
or tense (and, as a result, has no
finite Finite is the opposite of Infinity, infinite. It may refer to: * Finite number (disambiguation) * Finite set, a set whose cardinality (number of elements) is some natural number * Finite verb, a verb form that has a subject, usually being inflected ...
/ nonfinite distinction). Also like other languages in the region, Vietnamese syntax conforms to
subject–verb–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languag ...
, is head-initial (displaying modified- modifier ordering), and has a noun classifier system. Additionally, it is
pro-drop A pro-drop language (from "pronoun-dropping") is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a ...
, wh-in-situ, and allows
verb serialization The serial verb construction, also known as (verb) serialization or verb stacking, is a syntax, syntactic phenomenon in which two or more verbs or verb phrases are strung together in a single clause.Tallerman, M. (1998). ''Understanding Syntax''. Lo ...
. Some Vietnamese sentences with English word
glosses A gloss is a brief notation, especially a marginalia, marginal one or an interlinear gloss, interlinear one, of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text or in the reader's language if that is different. A ...
and translations are provided below.


Lexicon


Ancient Chinese contact

Although Vietnamese roots are classified as Austroasiatic, Vietic and Viet-Muong, the result of
language contact Language contact occurs when speakers of two or more languages or varieties interact and influence each other. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics. When speakers of different languages interact closely, it is typical for th ...
with Chinese heavily influenced the Vietnamese language, causing it to diverge from Viet-Muong into Vietnamese. For instance, the Vietnamese word ''quản lý,'' meaning management (noun) or manage (verb) is likely descended from the same word as ''guǎnlǐ'' () in Chinese, ''kanri'' (, ) in Japanese, and ''gwanli'' (, ) in Korean. Besides English and French which have made some contributions to Vietnamese language, Japanese loanwords into Vietnamese are also a more recently studied phenomenon. Modern linguists describe modern Vietnamese having lost many
Proto-Austroasiatic Proto-Austroasiatic is the reconstructed ancestor of the Austroasiatic languages The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, i ...
phonological and morphological features that original Vietnamese had. The Chinese influence on Vietnamese corresponds to various periods when Vietnam was under Chinese rule, and subsequent influence after Vietnam became independent. Early linguists thought that this meant Vietnamese lexicon then received only two layers of Chinese words, one stemming from the period under actual Chinese rule and a second layer from afterwards. These words are grouped together as
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
. However, according to linguist John Phan, “Annamese Middle Chinese” was already used and spoken in the Red River Valley by the 1st century CE, and its vocabulary significantly fused with the co-existing Proto-Viet-Muong language, the immediate ancestor of Vietnamese. He lists three major classes of Sino-Vietnamese borrowings: Early Sino-Vietnamese (
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
(ca. 1st century CE) and Jin Dynasty (ca. 4th century CE), Late Sino-Vietnamese (
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
), Recent Sino-Vietnamese (
Ming Dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming Dynasty
and afterwards)


French colonial era

Additionally, the French presence in Vietnam from 1777 to the Geneva Accords of 1954 resulted in significant influence from French into eastern Mainland Southeast Asia (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam ). 'Cà phê' in Vietnamese was derived from French ''café'' (coffee). Yogurt in Vietnamese is "''sữa chua''", but also calqued from French (''yaourt'') into Vietnamese (''da ua -'' /j/a ua). ''Phô mai'' meaning cheese is also derived from French:''fromage''.
Musical note In music, a note is a symbol denoting a musical sound. In English usage, a note is also the sound itself. Notes can represent the Pitch (music), pitch and Duration (music), duration of a sound in musical notation. A note can also represent a pitch ...
was also borrowed into Vietnamese as "''nốt or nốt nhạc" (musical notes)''" from French (''note de musique'').


English

Some English words were incorporated into Vietnamese as
loan words A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning ( ...
, such as "TV" borrowed as "tivi", but still officially called ''truyền hình''. Some other borrowings are
calque In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...

calque
s, translated into Viet, for example, 'software' is translated into phần mềm''' (literally meaning "soft part"). Some scientific terms such as "biological cell" were derived from Chữ Hán, ( 细胞 - tế bào), whilst other scientific names such as "acetylcholine" are unaltered. Words like "peptide", may be seen as ''peptit''.


Japanese

Japanese loanwords are a more recently studied phenomenon, with a paper by Nguyen & Le (2020) classifying three layers of Japanese loanwords, where the third layer was used by Vietnamese who studied Japanese and the first two layers being the main layers of borrowings that were derived from Japanese. The first layer consisted of Kanji words created by Japanese to represent Western concepts that were not readily available in Chinese or Japanese, where by the end of the 19th century they were imported to other Asian languages. This first layer was called Sino-Vietnamese words of Japanese-origins. For example, the Vietnamese term for "association club", ''câu lạc bộ,'' which was borrowed from Chinese (俱乐部; Mandarin pinyin - jùlèbù; Cantonese jyutping - keoi1 lok6 bou6), which was borrowed from Japanese (kanji - 倶楽部; katakana - クラブ; rōmaji - kurabu) which came from English ("''club"''), resulting in indirect borrowing from Japanese. The second layer was from brief Japanese occupation of Vietnam from 1940 until 1945. However, Japanese cultural influence in Vietnam started significantly from the 1980s. This new, second layer of Japan-origin loanwords is distinctive from Sino-Vietnamese words of Japanese-origin in that they were borrowed directly from Japanese. This vocabulary included words representative of Japanese culture, such as ''kimono'', ''sumo'', ''samurai'', and ''bonsai'' from modified Hepburn romanisation. These loanwords are coined as "new Japanese loanwords". A significant number of new Japanese loanwords were also of Chinese origin. Sometimes, the same concept can be described using both Sino-Vietnamese words of Japanese origin (first layer) and new Japanese loanwords (second layer). For example, judo can be referred to as both ''judo'' and ''nhu đạo'', the Vietnamese reading of 柔道.


Pure Vietnamese words

Other words, like ''muôn thuở'' meaning ''forever'' are seen to be purely Vietnamese invention, which used to be scribed Nôm characters, which were compounded Chinese characters, which are now written in romanized script.


Slang

Vietnamese
slang Slang is vocabulary A vocabulary is a set of familiar words In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
(tiếng lóng) has changed over time. Vietnamese slang consists of pure Vietnamese words as well as words borrowed from other languages such as
Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration o ...
or
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
. It is estimated that Vietnamese slang that originated from Mandarin accounts for a tiny proportion of all Vietnamese slang (4.6% of surveyed data in newspapers). On the other hand, slang that originated from Indo-European languages accounts for a more significant proportion (12%) and is much more common in today's uses. Slang borrowed from these languages can be either
transliteration Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of ha ...

transliteration
or
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
. Some examples: With the rise of the Internet, new slang is generated and popularized through
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
. This more modern slang is commonly used among the younger generation in Vietnam. This more recent slang is mostly pure Vietnamese, and almost all the words are
homonym In linguistics, homonyms, broadly defined, are words which are homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of pronunciation) or homophones (words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of spelling), or both. For example, acco ...
s or some form of wordplay. Some examples: There are debates on the prevalence of uses of slang among young people in Vietnam, as certain teen speak conversations become difficult to understand for older generations. Many critics believed that incorporating teenspeak or internet slang into daily conversation among teenagers would affect the formality and cadence of speech. Others argue that it is not the slang that is the problem but rather the lack of communication techniques for the instant internet messaging era. They believe slang should not be dismissed, but instead, youth should be informed enough to know when to use them and when it is appropriate.


Writing systems

After ending a millennium of Chinese rule in 938, the Vietnamese state adopted
Literary Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the classic literature from the end ...
(called or in Vietnamese) for official purposes. Up to the late 19th century (except for two brief interludes), all formal writing, including government business, scholarship and formal literature, was done in Literary Chinese, written with
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...
().


Chữ Nôm

From around the 13th century, Vietnamese scholars used their knowledge of the Chinese script to develop the () script to record folk literature in Vietnamese. The script used Chinese characters to represent both borrowed
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm Chữ Nôm (, , literally 'Southern characters') is a logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a ...
and native words with similar pronunciation or meaning. In addition, thousands of new compound characters were created to write Vietnamese words using a variety of methods, including
phono-semantic compound All Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing sys ...
s. For example, in the opening lines of the classic poem ''
The Tale of Kieu ''The Tale of Kiều'' is an epic poem Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings spec ...
'', * the Sino-Vietnamese word 'destiny' was written with its original character ; * the native Vietnamese word 'our' was written with the character of the homophonous Sino-Vietnamese word 'little, few; rather, somewhat'; * the native Vietnamese word 'year' was written with a new character compounded from and 'year'. writing reached its zenith in the 18th century when many Vietnamese writers and poets composed their works in , most notably
Nguyễn Du Nguyễn Du (; 3 January 1766 – 16 September 1820), pen names Tố Như () and Thanh Hiên (), is a celebrated Vietnamese people, Vietnamese poet. He is most known for writing the epic poem ''The Tale of Kiều''. Biography Youth Nguyễn ...
and Hồ Xuân Hương (dubbed "the Queen of Nôm poetry"). However, it was only used for official purposes during the brief Hồ dynasty, Hồ and Tây Sơn dynasty, Tây Sơn dynasties. A Catholic Church in Vietnam, Vietnamese Catholic, Nguyễn Trường Tộ, unsuccessfully petitioned the Court suggesting the adoption of a script for Vietnamese based on Chinese characters. The French colonial administration sought to eliminate the Chinese writing system, Confucianism, and other Chinese influences from Vietnam by getting rid of Nôm.


Vietnamese alphabet

A romanization of Vietnamese was codified in the 17th century by the Avignonese Society of Jesus, Jesuit missionary
Alexandre de Rhodes Alexandre de Rhodes (15 March 1593 – 5 November 1660) was an Avignonese Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbre ...
(1591–1660), based on works of earlier Portuguese discoveries, Portuguese missionaries, particularly Francisco de Pina, Gaspar do Amaral and Antonio Barbosa. Still, was the dominant script in Catholic Church in Vietnam, Vietnamese Catholic literature for more than 200 years. Starting from the late 19th century, the
Vietnamese alphabet The Vietnamese alphabet ( vi, chữ Quốc ngữ, "script of the national language") is the modern Latin writing script or writing system for Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast ...
( or "national language script") was gradually expanded from its initial usage in Christian writing to become more popular among the general public. The Vietnamese alphabet contains 29 letters, including one
digraph Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography), a pair of characters used together to represent a single sound, such as "sh" in English * Orthographic ligature, the joining of two letters as a single glyph, such as "æ" * Digraph (computing), a grou ...
(''D with stroke, đ'') and nine with
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
s, five of which are used to designate Tonal language, tone (i.e. ''à'', ''á'', ''ả'', ''ã'', and ''ạ'') and the other four used for separate letters of the Vietnamese alphabet (''ă'', ''â/ê/ô'', ''ơ'', ''ư''). This Romanized script became predominant over the course of the early 20th century, when education became widespread and a simpler writing system was found to be more expedient for teaching and communication with the general population. Under French Indochina, French colonial rule, French superseded Chinese in administration. Vietnamese written with the alphabet became required for all public documents in 1910 by issue of a decree by the French Résident Supérieur of the protectorate of Tonkin. In turn, Vietnamese reformists and nationalists themselves encouraged and popularized the use of . By the middle of the 20th century, most writing was done in , which became the official script on independence. Nevertheless, was still in use during the French colonial period and as late as World War II was still featured on banknotes, but fell out of official and mainstream use shortly thereafter. The education reform by North Vietnam in 1950 eliminated the use of ' and . Today, only a few scholars and some extremely elderly people are able to read or use it in Vietnamese calligraphy. Priests of the
Gin , United States, 2010) Gin is a Liquor, distilled alcoholic drink that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (''Juniperus communis''). Gin originated as a medicinal liquor made by monks and alchemists across Europe, particularly ...
minority in China (descendants of 16th-century migrants from Vietnam) use songbooks and scriptures written in in their ceremonies. reflects a "Middle Vietnamese" dialect that combines vowels and final consonants most similar to northern dialects with initial consonants most similar to southern dialects. This Middle Vietnamese is presumably close to the Hanoi variety as spoken sometime after 1600 but before the present. (This is not unlike how English orthography is based on the Chancery Standard of Middle English#Late Middle English, Late Middle English, with many spellings retained even after the Great Vowel Shift.)


Computer support

The Unicode character set contains all Vietnamese characters and the Vietnamese currency symbol. On systems that do not support Unicode, many 8-bit Vietnamese code pages are available such as Vietnamese Standard Code for Information Interchange (VSCII) or Windows-1258. Where ASCII must be used, Vietnamese letters are often typed using the Vietnamese Quoted-Readable, VIQR convention, though this is largely unnecessary with the increasing ubiquity of Unicode. There are many software tools that help type Roman-script Vietnamese on English keyboards, such a
WinVNKey
an
Unikey
on Windows, o
MacVNKey
on Macintosh, with popular methods o
encoding
Vietnamese using Telex, VNI or VIQR input methods. Telex (input method), Telex input method is often set as the default for many devices.


Dates and numbers writing formats

Vietnamese speak date in the format "day month year". Each month's name is just the ordinal of that month appended after the word ''tháng'', which means "month". Traditional Vietnamese however assigns other names to some months; these names are mostly used in the lunar calendar and in poetry. When written in the short form, "DD/MM/YYYY" is preferred. ''Example:'' *English: 28 March 2018 *Vietnamese long form: Ngày 28 tháng 3 năm 2018 *Vietnamese short form: 28/3/2018 The Vietnamese prefer writing numbers with a comma as the decimal separator in lieu of dots, and either spaces or dots to group the digits. An example is 1 629,15 (one thousand six hundred twenty-nine point fifteen). Because a comma is used as the decimal separator, a semicolon is used to separate two numbers instead.


Literature

''
The Tale of Kieu ''The Tale of Kiều'' is an epic poem Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings spec ...
'' is an epic narrative poem by the celebrated poet
Nguyễn Du Nguyễn Du (; 3 January 1766 – 16 September 1820), pen names Tố Như () and Thanh Hiên (), is a celebrated Vietnamese people, Vietnamese poet. He is most known for writing the epic poem ''The Tale of Kiều''. Biography Youth Nguyễn ...
, (), which is often considered the most significant work of Vietnamese literature. It was originally written in Chữ Nôm (titled ) and is widely taught in Vietnam (in ''chữ quốc ngữ'' transliteration).


Language variation

The Vietnamese language has several mutual intelligibility, mutually intelligible regional varieties: Vietnamese has traditionally been divided into three dialect regions: North, Central, and South. Michel Ferlus and Nguyễn Tài Cẩn also proved that there was a separate North-Central dialect for Vietnamese as well. The term ''Haut-Annam'' refers to dialects spoken from the northern Nghệ An Province to the southern (former) Thừa Thiên Province that preserve archaic features (like consonant clusters and undiphthongized vowels) that have been lost in other modern dialects. These dialect regions differ mostly in their sound systems (see below), but also in vocabulary (including basic vocabulary, non-basic vocabulary, and grammatical words) and grammar. The North-central and Central regional varieties, which have a significant number of vocabulary differences, are generally less mutually intelligible to Northern and Southern speakers. There is less internal variation within the Southern region than the other regions due to its relatively late settlement by Vietnamese speakers (around the end of the 15th century). The North-central region is particularly conservative; its pronunciation has diverged less from Vietnamese orthography than the other varieties, which tend to merge certain sounds. Along the coastal areas, regional variation has been neutralized to a certain extent, while more mountainous regions preserve more variation. As for sociolinguistic attitudes, the North-central varieties are often felt to be "peculiar" or "difficult to understand" by speakers of other dialects, despite the fact that their pronunciation fits the written language the most closely; this is typically because of various words in their vocabulary which are unfamiliar to other speakers (see the example vocabulary table below). The large movements of people between North and South beginning in the mid-20th century and continuing to this day have resulted in a sizable number of Southern residents speaking in the Northern accent/dialect and, to a greater extent, Northern residents speaking in the Southern accent/dialect. Following the Geneva Conference (1954), Geneva Accords of 1954 that called for the Geneva Conference (1954), temporary division of the country, about a million northerners (mainly from Hanoi, Haiphong and the surrounding Red River Delta areas) moved south (mainly to Saigon and heavily to Biên Hòa and Vũng Tàu, and the surrounding areas) as part of Operation Passage to Freedom. About 18% (~180,000) of that number of people made the move in the reverse direction (''Tập kết ra Bắc'', literally "go to the North".) Following the Fall of Saigon, reunification of Vietnam in 1975, Northern and North-Central speakers from the densely populated Red River Delta and the traditionally poorer provinces of Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh, and Quảng Bình have continued to move South to look for better economic opportunities, beginning with the new government's "New Economic Zones program" which lasted from 1975 to 1985. The first half of the program (1975–80), resulted in 1.3 million people sent to the New Economic Zones (NEZs), majority of which were relocated to the southern half of the country in previously uninhabited areas, of which 550,000 were Northerners. The second half (1981–85) saw almost 1 million Northerners relocated to the NEZs. Government and military personnel from Northern and North-central Vietnam are also posted to various locations throughout the country, often away from their home regions. More recently, the growth of the free market system has resulted in increased interregional movement and relations between distant parts of Vietnam through business and travel. These movements have also resulted in some blending of dialects, but more significantly, have made the Northern dialect more easily understood in the South and vice versa. Most Southerners, when singing modern/old popular Vietnamese songs or addressing the public, do so in the standardized accent if possible (which is Northern pronunciation). This is true in Vietnam as well as in overseas Vietnamese communities. Modern Standard Vietnamese is based on the Hanoi dialect. Nevertheless, the major dialects are still predominant in their respective areas and have also evolved over time with influences from other areas. Historically, accents have been distinguished by how each region pronounces the letters ''d'' ([z] in the Northern dialect and [j] in the Central and Southern dialect) and ''r'' ([z] in the Northern dialect, [r] in the Central and Southern dialects). Thus, the Central and Southern dialects can be said to have retained a pronunciation closer to Vietnamese orthography and resemble how Middle Vietnamese sounded in contrast to the modern Northern (Hanoi) dialect which underwent shifts.


Vocabulary

Although regional variations developed over time, most of these words can be used interchangeably and be understood well, albeit, with more or less frequency then others or with slightly different but often discernible word choices and pronunciations.


Consonants

The syllable-initial ''ch'' and ''tr'' digraphs are pronounced distinctly in North-Central, Central, and Southern varieties, but are merged in Northern varieties (i.e. they are both pronounced the same way). Many North-Central varieties preserve three distinct pronunciations for ''d'', ''gi'', and ''r'' whereas the North has a three-way merger and the Central and South have a merger of ''d'' and ''gi'' while keeping ''r'' distinct. At the end of syllables, palatals ''ch'' and ''nh'' have merged with alveolars ''t'' and ''n'', which, in turn, have also partially merged with velars ''c'' and ''ng'' in Central and Southern varieties. In addition to the regional variation described above, there is a merger of ''l'' and ''n'' in certain rural varieties in the North: Variation between ''l'' and ''n'' can be found even in mainstream Vietnamese in certain words. For example, the numeral "five" appears as ''năm'' by itself and in compound numerals like ''năm mươi'' "fifty" but appears as in "fifteen" (see Vietnamese grammar#Cardinal). In some northern varieties, this numeral appears with an initial ''nh'' instead of ''l'': "twenty-five", instead of mainstream . There is also a merger of ''r'' and ''g'' in certain rural varieties in the South: The consonant clusters that were originally present in Middle Vietnamese (of the 17th century) have been lost in almost all modern Vietnamese varieties (but retained in other closely related Vietic languages). However, some speech communities have preserved some of these archaic clusters: "sky" is with a cluster in Hảo Nho (Yên Mô District, Yên Mô, Ninh Bình Province) but ''trời'' in Southern Vietnamese and in Hanoi Vietnamese (initial single consonants , respectively).


Tones

Although there are six tones in Vietnamese, some tones may slightly "merge", but are still highly distinguishable due to the context of the speech. The ''hỏi'' and ''ngã'' tones are distinct in North and some North-central varieties (although often with different
pitch contour __NOTOC__ In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysi ...
s) but have somewhat merged in Central, Southern, and some North-Central varieties (also with different pitch contours). Some North-Central varieties (such as Vietnamese) have a slight merger of the ''ngã'' and ''nặng'' tones while keeping the ''hỏi'' tone distinct. Still, other North-Central varieties have a three-way merger of ''hỏi'', ''ngã'', and ''nặng'' resulting in a four-tone system. In addition, there are several phonetic differences (mostly in pitch contour and
phonation The term phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—lingu ...
type) in the tones among dialects. The table above shows the pitch contour of each tone using Tone (linguistics)#Asia, Chao tone number notation (where 1 represents the lowest pitch, and 5 the highest); glottalization (creaky voice, creaky, stiff voice, stiff, harsh voice, harsh) is indicated with the symbol; murmured voice with ; glottal stop with ; sub-dialectal variants are separated with commas. (See also the #Tones, tone section below.)


Word play

A language game known as ''nói lái'' is used by Vietnamese speakers. ''Nói lái'' involves switching/adding/removing the tones in a pair of words and also the order of the two words or the first consonant and Syllable rime, rime of each word; the resulting ''nói lái'' pair preserves the original sequence of tones. Some examples: : The resulting transformed phrase often has a different meaning but sometimes may just be a nonsensical word pair. ''Nói lái'' can be used to obscure the original meaning and thus soften the discussion of a socially sensitive issue, as with ''dấm đài'' and ''hoảng chưa'' (above), or when implied (and not overtly spoken), to deliver a hidden subtextual message, as with ''bồi tây''. Naturally, ''nói lái'' can be used for a humorous effect.www.users.bigpond.com/doanviettrung/noilai.html
, Language Log'

an

for more examples.
Another word game somewhat reminiscent of pig latin is played by children. Here a nonsense syllable (chosen by the child) is prefixed onto a target word's syllables, then their initial consonants and rimes are switched with the tone of the original word remaining on the new switched rime. : This language game is often used as a "secret" or "coded" language useful for obscuring messages from adult comprehension.


See also

* Vietnamese Wikipedia *Vietnamese calligraphy *Vietnamese pronouns * Vietnamese studies


Notes


References


Bibliography


General

* Dương, Quảng-Hàm. (1941). ''Việt-nam văn-học sử-yếu'' [Outline history of Vietnamese literature]. Saigon: Bộ Quốc gia Giáo dục. * * * * * * * * * * Uỷ ban Khoa học Xã hội Việt Nam. (1983). ''Ngữ-pháp tiếng Việt'' [Vietnamese grammar]. Hanoi: Khoa học Xã hội.


Sound system

* * * * * *


Language variation

* Alves, Mark J. 2007
"A Look At North-Central Vietnamese"
In ''SEALS XII Papers from the 12th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 2002'', edited by Ratree Wayland et al. Canberra, Australia, 1–7. Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University * Alves, Mark J.; & Nguyễn, Duy Hương. (2007)
"Notes on Thanh-Chương Vietnamese in Nghệ-An province"
In M. Alves, M. Sidwell, & D. Gil (Eds.), ''SEALS VIII: Papers from the 8th annual meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 1998'' (pp. 1–9). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies * * Honda, Koichi. (2006)
"F0 and phonation types in Nghe Tinh Vietnamese tones"
In P. Warren & C. I. Watson (Eds.), ''Proceedings of the 11th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology'' (pp. 454–459). Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. * Machaud, Alexis; Ferlus, Michel; & Nguyễn, Minh-Châu. (2015)
"Strata of standardization: the Phong Nha dialect of Vietnamese (Quảng Bình Province)
in historical perspective". ''Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area'', Dept. of Linguistics, University of California, 2015, 38 (1), pp.124-162. * Pham, Andrea Hoa. (2005)
"Vietnamese tonal system in Nghi Loc: A preliminary report"
In C. Frigeni, M. Hirayama, & S. Mackenzie (Eds.), ''Toronto working papers in linguistics: Special issue on similarity in phonology'' (Vol. 24, pp. 183–459). Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. * Vũ, Thanh Phương. (1982). "Phonetic properties of Vietnamese tones across dialects". In D. Bradley (Ed.), ''Papers in Southeast Asian linguistics: Tonation'' (Vol. 8, pp. 55–75). Sydney: Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University. * Vương, Hữu Lễ. (1981). "Vài nhận xét về đặc diểm của vần trong thổ âm Quảng Nam ở Hội An" [Some notes on special qualities of the rhyme in local Quảng Nam speech in Hội An]. In ''Một Số Vấn Ðề Ngôn Ngữ Học Việt Nam'' [Some linguistics issues in Vietnam] (pp. 311–320). Hà Nội: Nhà Xuất Bản Ðại Học và Trung Học Chuyên Nghiệp.


Pragmatics

* Luong, Hy Van. (1987). "Plural markers and personal pronouns in Vietnamese person reference: An analysis of pragmatic ambiguity and negative models". ''Anthropological Linguistics'', 29(1), 49–70. * *


Historical and comparative

* * * Cooke, Joseph R. (1968). ''Pronominal reference in Thai, Burmese, and Vietnamese''. University of California publications in linguistics (No. 52). Berkeley: University of California Press. * * * Gregerson, Kenneth J. (1969). "A study of Middle Vietnamese phonology". ''Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Indochinoises'', 44, 135–193. (Reprinted in 1981). * * * * * Shorto, Harry L. edited by Sidwell, Paul, Cooper, Doug and Bauer, Christian (2006). ''A Mon–Khmer comparative dictionary''. Canberra: Australian National University. Pacific Linguistics. ISBN *


Orthography

* * ** English translation: * Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1955). ''Quốc-ngữ: The modern writing system in Vietnam''. Washington, DC: Author. * * Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1996). Vietnamese. In P. T. Daniels, & W. Bright (Eds.), ''The world's writing systems'', (pp. 691–699). New York: Oxford University Press. .


Pedagogical

* Nguyen, Bich Thuan. (1997). ''Contemporary Vietnamese: An intermediate text''. Southeast Asian language series. Northern Illinois University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies. * Healy, Dana. (2004). ''Teach Yourself Vietnamese''. Teach Yourself. Chicago: McGraw-Hill. ISBN * Hoang, Thinh; Nguyen, Xuan Thu; Trinh, Quynh-Tram; (2000). ''Vietnamese phrasebook'', (3rd ed.). Hawthorn, Vic.: Lonely Planet. ISBN * Moore, John. (1994). ''Colloquial Vietnamese: A complete language course''. London: Routledge. * Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1967). ''Read Vietnamese: A graded course in written Vietnamese''. Rutland, Vermont: C.E. Tuttle. * Lâm, Lý-duc; Emeneau, M. B.; von den Steinen, Diether. (1944). ''An Annamese reader''. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley. * Nguyễn, Đăng Liêm. (1970). ''Vietnamese pronunciation''. PALI language texts: Southeast Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.


External links

; Online lessons
Online Vietnamese lessons
from Northern Illinois University ; Vocabulary
Vietnamese Vocabulary List
(from the World Loanword Database)
Swadesh list of Vietnamese basic vocabulary words
(from Wiktionary'
Swadesh-list appendix
; Language tools
The Vietnamese keyboard
its layout is compared with US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany's keyboards.

Research projects and data resources
rwaai , Projects
RWAAI (Repository and Workspace for Austroasiatic Intangible Heritage) * hdl:10050/00-0000-0000-0003-93ED-5@view, http://hdl.handle.net/10050/00-0000-0000-0003-93ED-5@view Vietnamese in RWAAI Digital Archive {{DEFAULTSORT:Vietnamese Language Vietnamese language, Analytic languages Isolating languages Languages of Vietnam Languages of Cambodia Languages of China Languages of the Czech Republic Subject–verb–object languages Vietic languages Tonal languages in non-tonal families