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The Origin of Vietnamese: Language and Influences

Updated: May 9




Learn About the Vietnamese Language's Global Influence

Discover how Vietnamese extends beyond Vietnam's borders, influencing neighboring countries such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and even the Czech Republic, where it holds minority language status.

With approximately 86% of Vietnam's population being native Vietnamese speakers, explore the diverse linguistic landscape that includes 54 other recognized ethnic groups, each with their own distinct languages.


Uncover the Dialects and Cultural Nuances

Delve into the unique dialects of Vietnamese, including the prestigious Hanoi dialect (Northern Vietnamese), the Hue dialect (Central Vietnamese), and the Saigon dialect (Southern Vietnamese). Gain insights into the pronunciation, vocabulary, and mutual understandability of these dialects, similar to the differences between US and UK English.


Trace the Historical Journey of Vietnamese

Trace the historical journey of the Vietnamese language through six official periods, from Pre-Vietnamese to Modern Vietnamese. Explore the impact of Chinese rule during the Han Dynasty and the lasting influence it had on Vietnamese vocabulary and grammar. Witness the evolution during the period of French colonization and its influence on Vietnamese administration, education, and vocabulary.


You can most strongly see the influences of different languages in certain areas of contemporary Vietnamese vocabulary:
  • Chinese: science, medicine, politics and religion

  • French: food and fashion, as well as many words relating to infrastructure

  • English: words relating to modern technology


Discover the Vietnamese Writing System

Learn about the fascinating development of the Vietnamese writing system. Explore the adoption of Chinese characters during the period of Chinese rule, followed by the creation of "Southern Characters" (chữ nôm) and the simultaneous use of Classical Chinese (chữ nho) in administration and scholarly circles. Finally, uncover the emergence of the national script, chữ quốc ngữ, a Romanized version of Vietnamese that replaced the previous writing systems.


Embrace the Future of Vietnamese

Witness how the Vietnamese language has thrived despite its tumultuous history. While embracing influences from Chinese and French, as well as incorporating a Romanized writing system, Vietnamese has maintained its unique identity. However, with the increasing influence of English, particularly in modern technology, Vietnamese face new challenges. Discover initiatives by the Vietnamese government and various groups to promote the official language and preserve Vietnamese culture.


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