Vietnamese language: Wikis

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Vietnamese
Tiếng Việt
Pronunciation [tjə̌ˀŋ vjə̀t] (Northern)
[tjə̌ŋ jə̀k] (Southern)
Spoken in Vietnam Vietnam
Vietnamese diaspora
Region Southeast Asia
Total speakers 70-73 million native (includes 3 million overseas)
80+ million total
Ranking 13–17 (native); in a near tie with Korean, Telugu, Marathi and Tamil
Language family Austro-Asiatic
Writing system Vietnamese variant of Latin alphabet
Official status
Official language in Vietnam
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 vi
ISO 639-2 vie
ISO 639-3 vie
TiengViet.PNG

Extent of Vietnamese

Vietnamese (tiếng Việt, or less commonly Việt ngữ[1]), formerly known under French colonization as Annamese (see Annam), is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. It is part of the Austroasiatic language family, of which it has the most speakers by a significant margin (several times larger than the other Austroasiatic languages put together). It is a tonal language, a feature that it developed due to its location in the Southeast Asian sprachbund, despite its ancestral languages not being originally tonal.

Much vocabulary has been borrowed from Chinese, especially words that denote abstract ideas (in the same way European languages borrow from Latin and Greek), and it was formerly written using the Chinese writing system, albeit in a modified format and was given vernacular pronunciation. As a byproduct of the French invasion, there are also some influence from French, and the Vietnamese writing system in use today is an adapted version of the Latin alphabet, with additional diacritics for tones and certain letters.

Contents

Geographic distribution

As the national language of the majority ethnic group, Vietnamese is spoken throughout Vietnam by the Vietnamese people, as well as by ethnic minorities. It is also spoken in overseas Vietnamese communities, most notably in the United States, where it has more than one million speakers and is the seventh most-spoken language (it is 3rd in Texas, 4th in Arkansas and Louisiana, and 5th in California[2]). In Australia, it is the sixth most-spoken language.

According to the Ethnologue, Vietnamese is also spoken by substantial numbers of people in Cambodia, Canada, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Laos, Martinique, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, the Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.[3]

Genealogical classification

Vietnamese was identified more than 150 years ago[4] to be part of the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austroasiatic language family (a family that also includes Khmer, spoken in Cambodia, as well as various tribal and regional languages, such as the Munda and Khasi languages spoken in eastern India, and others in southern China). Later, Mường was found to be more closely related to Vietnamese than other Mon-Khmer languages, and a Việt-Mường sub-grouping was established. As data on more Mon-Khmer languages were acquired, other minority languages (such as Thavưng, Chứt languages, Hung, etc.) were found to share Việt-Mường characteristics, and the Việt-Mường term was renamed to Vietic. The older term Việt-Mường now refers to a lower sub-grouping (within an eastern Vietic branch) consisting of Vietnamese dialects, Mường dialects, and Nguồn (of Quảng Bình Province).[5]

Language policy

While spoken by the Vietnamese people for millennia, written Vietnamese did not become the official administrative language of Vietnam until the 20th century. For most of its history, the entity now known as Vietnam used written classical Chinese for governing purposes, whereas written Vietnamese in the form of Chữ nôm was used for poetry and literature. It was also used for administrative purposes during the brief Ho and Tay Son Dynasties. During French colonialism, French superseded Chinese in administration. It was not until independence from France that Vietnamese was used officially. It is the language of instruction in schools and universities and is the language for official business.

History

It seems likely that in the distant past, Vietnamese shared more characteristics common to other languages in the Austroasiatic family, such as an inflectional morphology and a richer set of consonant clusters, which have subsequently disappeared from the language. However, Vietnamese appears to have been heavily influenced by its location in the Southeast Asian sprachbund, with the result that it has acquired or converged toward characteristics such as isolating morphology and tonogenesis. These characteristics, which may or may not have been part of proto-Austroasiatic, nonetheless have become part of many of the phylogenetically unrelated languages of Southeast Asia; for example, Thai (one of the Kradai languages), Tsat (a member of the Malayo-Polynesian group within Austronesian), and Vietnamese each developed tones as a phonemic feature, although their respective ancestral languages were not originally tonal.[citation needed] At present, Vietnamese has similarities with both Chinese and French due to the influence of the French invasion.

The ancestor of the Vietnamese language was originally based in the area of the Red River in what is now northern Vietnam, and 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 and the Khmer people of the Mekong Delta in the vicinity of present-day Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), characteristic tonal variations have emerged.

Vietnamese was linguistically influenced primarily by Chinese, which came to predominate politically in the 2nd century B.C. With the rise of Chinese political dominance came radical importation of Chinese vocabulary and grammatical influence. As Chinese was, for a prolonged period, the only medium of literature and government, as well as the primary written language of the ruling class in Vietnam, much of the Vietnamese lexicon in all realms consists of Hán Việt (Sino-Vietnamese) words. In fact, as the vernacular language of Vietnam gradually grew in prestige toward the beginning of the second millennium, the Vietnamese language was written using Chinese characters (using both the original Chinese characters, called Hán tự, as well as a system of newly created and modified characters called Chữ nôm) adapted to write Vietnamese, in a similar pattern as used in Japan (kanji), Korea (hanja), and other countries in the Sinosphere. The Nôm writing reached its zenith in the 18th century when many Vietnamese writers and poets composed their works in Chữ Nôm, most notably Nguyễn Du and Hồ Xuân Hương (dubbed "the Queen of Nôm poetry").

As contact with the West grew, the Quốc Ngữ system of Romanized writing was developed in the 17th century by Portuguese and other Europeans involved in proselytizing and trade in Vietnam. 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). In addition, many Sino-Vietnamese terms were devised for Western ideas imported through the French. However, the Romanized script did not come to predominate until the beginning of the 20th century, when education became widespread and a simpler writing system was found more expedient for teaching and communication with the general population.

Vocabulary

The words in orange belong to the Vietnamese native vocabulary while the ones in green belong to the Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary.

As a result of a thousand years of Chinese occupation, much of the Vietnamese lexicon relating to science and politics is derived from Chinese. As much as 60%-70% of the vocabulary has Chinese roots, although many compound words are Sino-Vietnamese, composed of native Vietnamese words combined with Chinese borrowings. One can usually distinguish between a native Vietnamese word and a Chinese borrowing if it can be reduplicated or its meaning doesn't change when the tone is shifted. As a result of French colonization, Vietnamese also has words borrowed from the French language, for example cà phê (from French café). Nowadays, many new words are being added to the language's lexicon; these are usually borrowed from English, for example TV (though usually seen in the written form as tivi). Sometimes these borrowings are calques literally translated into Vietnamese for example, 'software' is calqued into phần mềm, which literally means "soft part".

Phonology

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Vowels

Like other southeast Asian languages, Vietnamese has a comparatively large number of vowels. Below is a vowel diagram of Hanoi Vietnamese.

  Front Central Back
High i [i] ư [ɨ] u [u]
Upper Mid ê [e] â [ə] / ơ [əː] ô [o]
Lower Mid e [ɛ] o [ɔ]
Low ă [a] / a [aː]

Front, central, and low vowels (i, ê, e, ư, â, ơ, ă, a) are unrounded, whereas the back vowels (u, ô, o) are rounded. The vowels â [ə] and ă [a] are pronounced very short, much shorter than the other vowels. Thus, ơ and â are basically pronounced the same except that ơ [əː][6] is long while â [ə] is short — the same applies to the low vowels long a [aː] and short ă [a].[7]

In addition to single vowels (or monophthongs), Vietnamese has diphthongs[8] and triphthongs. The diphthongs consist of a main vowel component followed by a shorter semivowel offglide to a high front position [ɪ], a high back position [ʊ], or a central position [ə].[9]

Vowel nucleus Diphthong with front offglide Diphthong with back offglide Diphthong with centering offglide Triphthong with front offglide Triphthong with back offglide
i iu~yu [iʊ̯] ia~iê~yê~ya [iə̯] iêu [iə̯ʊ̯]
ê êu [eʊ̯]
e eo [ɛʊ̯]
ư ưi [ɨɪ̯] ưu [ɨʊ̯] ưa~ươ [ɨə̯] ươi [ɨə̯ɪ̯] ươu [ɨə̯ʊ̯]
â ây [əɪ̯] âu [əʊ̯]
ơ ơi [əːɪ̯]
ă ay [aɪ̯] au [aʊ̯]
a ai [aːɪ̯] ao [aːʊ̯]
u ui [uɪ̯] ua~uô [uə̯] uôi [uə̯ɪ̯]
ô ôi [oɪ̯]
o oi [ɔɪ̯]

The centering diphthongs are formed with only the three high vowels (i, ư, u) as the main vowel. They are generally spelled as ia, ưa, ua when they end a word and are spelled , ươ, , respectively, when they are followed by a consonant. There are also restrictions on the high offglides: the high front offglide cannot occur after a front vowel (i, ê, e) nucleus and the high back offglide cannot occur after a back vowel (u, ô, o) nucleus[10].

The correspondence between the orthography and pronunciation is complicated. For example, the offglide [ɪ̯] is usually written as i however, it may also be represented with y. In addition, in the diphthongs [aɪ̯] and [aːɪ̯] the letters y and i also indicate the pronunciation of the main vowel: ay = ă + [ɪ̯], ai = a + [ɪ̯]. Thus, tay "hand" is [taɪ̯] while tai "ear" is [taːɪ̯]. Similarly, u and o indicate different pronunciations of the main vowel: au = ă + [ʊ̯], ao = a + [ʊ̯]. Thus, thau "brass" is [tʰaʊ̯] while thao "raw silk" is [tʰaːʊ̯].

The four triphthongs are formed by adding front and back offglides to the centering diphthongs. Similarly to the restrictions involving diphthongs, a triphthong with front nucleus cannot have a front offglide (after the centering glide) and a triphthong with a back nucleus cannot have a back offglide.

With regards to the front and back offglides [ɪ̯, ʊ̯], many phonological descriptions analyze these as consonant glides /j, w/. Thus, a word such as đâu "where", phonetically [ɗəʊ̯], would be phonemicized as /ɗəw/.

Tones

Pitch contours and duration of the six Northern Vietnamese tones as uttered by a male speaker (not from Hanoi). Fundamental frequency is plotted over time. From Nguyễn & Edmondson (1998).

Vietnamese vowels are all pronounced with an inherent tone.[11] Tones differ in:

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).[12] The six tones in the northern varieties (including Hanoi) are:

Name Description Diacritic Example Sample vowel
ngang   'level' mid level (no mark) ma  'ghost' About this sound a
huyền   'hanging' low falling (often breathy) ` (grave accent)  'but' About this sound à
sắc   'sharp' high rising ´ (acute accent)  'cheek, mother (southern)' About this sound á
hỏi   'asking' mid dipping-rising  ̉ (hook) mả  'tomb, grave' About this sound
ngã   'tumbling' high breaking-rising ˜ (tilde)  'horse (Sino-Vietnamese), code' About this sound ã
nặng   'heavy' low falling constricted (short length)  ̣ (dot below) mạ  'rice seedling' About this sound

Other dialects of Vietnamese have fewer tones (typically only five). See the language variation section for a brief survey of tonal differences among dialects.

In Vietnamese poetry, tones are classed into two groups:

Tone group Tones within tone group
bằng "level, flat" ngang and huyền
trắc "oblique, sharp" sắc, hỏi, ngã, and nặng

Words with tones belonging to particular tone group must occur in certain positions with the poetic verse.

Consonants

The consonants that occur in Vietnamese are listed below in the Vietnamese orthography with the phonetic pronunciation to the right.

Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p [p] t [t] tr [tʂ~ʈ] ch [c~tɕ] c/k [k]
aspirated   th [tʰ]
voiced b [ɓ] đ [ɗ] d [ɟ]
Fricative voiceless ph [f] x [s] s [ʂ] kh [x] h [h]
voiced v [v] gi [z] r [ʐ~ɹ] g/gh [ɣ]
Nasal m [m] n [n] nh [ɲ] ng/ngh [ŋ]
Approximant u/o [w] l [l] y/i [j]

Some consonant sounds are written with only one letter (like "p"), other consonant sounds are written with a two-letter digraph (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 Hanoi Vietnamese has had different analyses. One analysis has final ch, nh as being phonemes /c, ɲ/ contrasting with syllable-final t, c /t, k/ and n, ng /n, ŋ/ and identifies final ch with the syllable-initial ch /c/. The other analysis has final ch and nh as predictable allophonic variants of the velar phonemes /k/ and /ŋ/ that occur before upper front vowels i /i/ and ê /e/. (See Vietnamese phonology: Analysis of final ch, nh for further details.)

Language variation

There are various mutually intelligible regional varieties (or dialects), the main four being:[13]

Dialect region Localities Names under French colonization
Northern Vietnamese Hanoi, Haiphong, and various provincial forms Tonkinese
North-central (or Area IV) Vietnamese Nghệ An (Vinh, Thanh Chương), Thanh Hoá, Quảng Bình, Hà Tĩnh High Annamese
Central Vietnamese Huế, Quảng Nam Low Annamese
Southern Vietnamese Saigon, Mekong (Far West) Cochinchinese
Icon of loudspeaker
The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spoken by Nghiem Mai Phuong, native speaker of a northern variety. (audio help)
Icon of loudspeaker
Ho Chi Minh reading his Declaration of Independence. Ho Chi Minh is from Nghe An Province, speaking a northern-central variety. (audio help)

Vietnamese has traditionally been divided into three dialect regions: North, Central, and South. However, Michel Fergus and Nguyễn Tài Cẩn offer evidence for considering a North-Central region separate from Central. The term Haut-Annam refers to dialects spoken from northern Nghệ An Province to 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.[14] The North-central and Central regional varieties, which have a significant amount 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 (in around the end of the 15th century). The North-central region is particularly conservative. 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.

It should be noted that the large movements of people between North and South beginning in the mid-20th century and continuing to this day have resulted in a significant number of Southern residents speaking in the Northern accent/dialect and to a lesser extent, Northern residents speaking in the Southern accent/dialect. Following the Geneva Accords of 1954 that called for the "temporary" division of the country, almost a million Northern speakers (mainly from Hanoi and the surrounding Red River Delta areas) moved South (mainly to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, and the surrounding areas.) About a third of that number of people made the move in the reverse direction.

Following the reunification of Vietnam in 1975-76, Northern and North-Central speakers from the densely populated Red River Delta and the traditionally poorer provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh have continued to move South to look for better economic opportunities. Additionally, government and military personnel are posted to various locations throughout the country, often away from their home regions. More recently, the growth of the free market system have resulted in business people and tourists traveling to distant parts of Vietnam. These movements have resulted in some small blending of the dialects but more significantly, have made the Northern dialect more easily understood in the South and vice versa. It is also interesting to note that most Southerners, when singing modern/popular Vietnamese songs, would do so in the Northern accent. This is true in Vietnam as well as in the overseas Vietnamese communities.

Regional variation in grammatical words[15]
Northern Central Southern English gloss
này ni nầy "this"
thế này ri vầy "thus, this way"
ấy nớ, đó "that"
thế, thế ấy rứa, rứa tê vậy đó "thus, so, that way"
kia đó "that yonder"
kìa tề đó "that yonder (far away)"
đâu đâu "where"
nào nào "which"
sao, thế nào răng sao "how, why"
tôi tui tui "I, me (polite)"
tao tau tao, qua "I, me (arrogant, familiar)"
chúng tôi bầy tui tụi tui "we, us (but not you, polite)"
chúng tao bầy choa tụi tao "we, us (but not you, arrogant, familiar)"
mày mi mầy "you (thou) (arrogant, familiar)"
chúng mày bây, bọn bây tụi mầy "you guys, y'all (arrogant, familiar)"
hắn, nghỉ "he/him, she/her, it (arrogant, familiar)"
chúng nó bọn hắn tụi nó "they/them (arrogant, familiar)"
ông ấy ông nớ ổng "he/him, that gentleman, sir"
bà ấy mệ nớ, mụ nớ, bà nớ bả "she/her, that lady, madam"
cô ấy o nớ cổ "she/her, that unmarried young lady"
chị ấy ả nớ chỉ "she/her, that young lady"
anh ấy eng nớ ảnh "he/him, that young man (of equal status)"

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). The 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.

Regional consonant correspondences
Syllable position Orthography Northern North-central Central Southern
syllable-initial x [s] [s] [s] [s]
s [ʂ] [ʂ] [ʂ]
ch [tɕ] [tɕ] [tɕ] [tɕ]
tr [tʂ] [tʂ] [tʂ]
r [z] [ɹ] [ɹ] [ɹ]
d [ɟ] [j] [j]
gi [z]
v [16] [v] [v]
syllable-final c [k] [k] [k] [k]
t [t] [t]
t
after e
[k, t]
t
after ê
[t] [k, t]
t
after i
[t]
ch [c] [c]
ng [ŋ] [ŋ] [ŋ] [ŋ]
n [n] [n]
n
after i, ê
[n] [n]
nh [ɲ] [ɲ]

In addition to the regional variation described above, there is also a merger of l and n in certain rural varieties:

l, n variation
Orthography "Mainstream" varieties Rural varieties
n [n] [n]
l [l]

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 lăm in mười lăm "fifteen". (See Vietnamese syntax: Cardinal numerals.) In some northern varieties, this numeral appears with an initial nh instead of l: hai mươi nhăm "twenty-five" vs. mainstream hai mươi lăm.[17]

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 blời with a cluster in Hảo Nho (Yên Mô prefecture, Ninh Binh Province) but trời in Southern Vietnamese and giời in Hanoi Vietnamese (initial single consonants ʂ, z/, respectively).

Generally, the Northern varieties have six tones while those in other regions have five tones. The hỏi and ngã tones are distinct in North and some North-central varieties (although often with different pitch contours) but have merged in Central, Southern, and some North-central varieties (also with different pitch contours). Some North-central varieties (such as Hà Tĩnh Vietnamese) have a 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 type) in the tones among dialects.

Regional tone correspondences
Tone Northern North-central Central Southern
 Vinh  Thanh
Chương
Hà Tĩnh
ngang 33 35 35 35, 353 35 33
huyền 2̤1̤ 33 33 33 33 21
sắc 35 11 11, 1̰3̰ 1̰3 1̰3̰ 35
hỏi 31̰3̰ 31 31 31̰ʔ 312 214
ngã 3ʔ5 1̰3̰ 22̰
nặng 21̰ʔ 22 2̰2̰ 2̰2̰ 212

The table above shows the pitch contour of each tone using Chao tone number notation (where 1 = lowest pitch, 5 = highest pitch); glottalization (creaky, stiff, harsh) is indicated with the <˷> symbol; breathy voice with <‬‬‬‬‬‬ ̤>; glottal stop with <ʔ>; sub-dialectal variants are separated with commas. (See also the tone section below.)

Grammar

Vietnamese, like many languages in Southeast Asia, is an analytic (or isolating) language. Vietnamese does not use morphological marking of case, gender, number or tense (and, as a result, has no finite/nonfinite distinction).[18] Also like other languages in the region, Vietnamese syntax conforms to Subject Verb Object word order, is head-initial (displaying modified-modifier ordering), and has a noun classifier system. Additionally, it is pro-drop, wh-in-situ, and allows verb serialization.

Some Vietnamese sentences with English word glosses and translations are provided below.

Mai sinh viên.
Mai be student
"Mai is a student." (College student)
Giáp rất cao.
Giap very tall
"Giap is very tall."
Người đó anh nó.
person that be brother he
"That person is his brother."
Con chó này chẳng bao giờ sủa cả.
classifier dog this not ever bark at.all
"This dog never barks at all."
chỉ ăn cơm Việt Nam thôi.
he only eat rice.colloquial Vietnam only
"He only eats Vietnamese food."
Cái thằng chồng em chẳng ra gì.
focus classifier husband I (as wife) he not turn.out what
"That husband of mine, he is good for nothing."
Tôi thích con ngựa đen.
I (generic) like classifier horse black
"I like the black horse."
Tôi thích cái con ngựa đen.
I (generic) like focus classifier horse black
"It's the black horse that I like."

Writing system

Currently, the written language uses the Vietnamese alphabet (quốc ngữ or "national script", literally "national language"), based on the Latin alphabet. Originally a Romanization of Vietnamese, it was codified in the 17th century by a French Jesuit missionary named Alexandre de Rhodes (1591–1660), based on works of earlier Portuguese missionaries (Gaspar do Amaral and António Barbosa). The use of the script was gradually extended from its initial domain in Christian writing to become more popular among the general public.

Under French colonial rule, the script became official and required for all public documents in 1910 by issue of a decree by the French Résident Supérieur of the protectorate of Tonkin. By the end of first half 20th century virtually all writings were done in quốc ngữ.

Changes in the script were made by French scholars and administrators and by conferences held after independence during 1954–1974. The script now reflects a so-called Middle Vietnamese dialect that has vowels and final consonants most similar to northern dialects and initial consonants most similar to southern dialects (Nguyễn 1996). 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 late Middle English, with many spellings retained even after significant phonetic change.)

Before French rule, the first two Vietnamese writing systems were based on Chinese script:

  • the standard Chinese character set called chữ nho (scholar's characters, 𡨸儒): used to write Literary Chinese
  • a complicated variant form known as chữ nôm (southern/vernacular characters, 𡨸喃) with characters not found in the Chinese character set; this system was better adapted to the unique phonetic aspects of Vietnamese which differed from Chinese

The authentic Chinese writing, chữ nho, was in more common usage, whereas chữ nôm was used by members of the educated elite (one needs to be able to read chữ nho in order to read chữ nôm). Both scripts have fallen out of common usage in modern Vietnam, and almost all citizens are unable to read chữ nôm in more recent years.

Chữ nho was still in use on early North Vietnamese and late French Indochinese banknotes issued after WWII[19] but fell out of official use shortly thereafter.

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 VISCII or CP1258. Where ASCII must be used, Vietnamese letters are often typed using the VIQR convention, though this is largely unnecessary nowadays, with the increasing ubiquity of Unicode. There are many software tools that help type true Vietnamese text on US keyboards, such as WinVNKey and Unikey on Windows, or MacVNKey on Macintosh.

Pragmatics and ethnography of communication

Word play

A language game known as nói lái is used by Vietnamese speakers and is often considered clever[citation needed]. Nói lái involves switching the tones in a pair of words and also the order of the two words or the first consonant and rime of each word; the resulting nói lái pair preserves the original sequence of tones. Some examples:

Original phrase Phrase after nói lái transformation Structural change
đái dầm "(child) wet their pants" đấm dài (nonsense words) word order and tone switch
chửa hoang "pregnancy out of wedlock" hoảng chưa "scared yet?" word order and tone switch
bầy tôi "all the king's subjects" bồi tây "French waiter" initial consonant, rime, and tone switch
bí mật "secrets" bật mí "revealing secrets" initial consonant and rime switch

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[20]. Naturally, nói lái can be used for a humorous effect.[21]

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.

Nonsense syllable Target word Intermediate form with prefixed syllable Resulting "secret" word
la phở "beef or chicken noodle soup" la phở lơ phả
la ăn "to eat" la ăn lăn a
la hoàn cảnh "situation" la hoàn la cảnh loan hà lanh cả
chim hoàn cảnh "situation" chim hoàn chim cảnh choan hìm chanh kỉm

This language game is often used as a "secret" or "coded" language useful for obscuring messages from adult comprehension.

Examples

See "The Tale of Kieu" for an extract of the first six lines of Truyện Kiều, an epic narrative poem by the celebrated poet Nguyễn Du, 阮攸), which is often considered the most significant work of Vietnamese literature. It was originally written in Nôm (titled Đoạn Trường Tân Thanh 斷腸新聲) and is widely taught in Vietnam today.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Another variant, tiếng Việt Nam, is rarely used by native speakers and is likely a neologism from translating literally from a foreign language. It is most often used by non-native speakers and mostly found in documents translated from another language.
  2. ^ "Detailed List of Languages Spoken at Home for the Population 5 Years and Over by State: 2000" (PDF). 2000 United States Census. United States Census Bureau. 2003. http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/phc-t20/tab05.pdf. Retrieved April 11 2006. 
  3. ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=vie
  4. ^ "Mon-Khmer languages: The Vietic branch". SEAlang Projects. http://sealang.net/mk/vietic-intro.htm. Retrieved November 8 2006. 
  5. ^ Even though this is supported by etymological comparison, some linguists still believe that Viet-Muong is a separate family, genealogically unrelated to Mon-Khmer languages.)
  6. ^ The symbol ː represents long vowel length.
  7. ^ There are different descriptions of Hanoi vowels. Another common description is that of Thompson (1965):
    Front Central Back
    un­rounded rounded
    High i [i] ư [ɯ] u [u]
    Upper Mid ê [e] ơ [ɤ] ô [o]
    Lower Mid e [ɛ] â [ʌ] o [ɔ]
    Low a [a] ă [ɐ]
    This description distinguishes four degrees of vowel height and a rounding contrast (rounded vs. unrounded) between back vowels. The relative shortness of ă [ɐ] and â [ʌ] would, then, be a secondary feature. Thompson describes the vowel ă [ɐ] as being slightly higher (upper low) than a [aː].
  8. ^ In Vietnamese, diphthongs are âm đôi.
  9. ^ The diphthongs and triphthongs as described by Thompson can be compared with the description above:
    Thompson's diphthongs
    Vowel nucleus Front offglide Back offglide Centering offglide
    i iu~yu [iʊ̯] ia~iê [iə̯]
    ê êu [eʊ̯]
    e eo [ɛʊ̯]
    ư ưi [ɯɪ̯] ưu [ɯʊ̯] ưa~ươ [ɯə̯]
    â ây [ʌɪ̯] âu [ʌʊ̯]
    ơ ơi [ɤɪ̯]
    ă ay [ɐɪ̯] au [ɐʊ̯]
    a ai [aɪ̯] ao [aʊ̯]
    u ui [uɪ̯] ua~uô [uə̯]
    ô ôi [oɪ̯]
    o oi [ɔɪ̯]
    Thompson's triphthongs
    Centering diphthong Front offglide Back offglide
    ia ~ iê iêu [iə̯ʊ̯]
    ưa ~ ươ ươi [ɯ̯əɪ̯] ươu [ɯə̯ʊ̯]
    ua ~ uô uôi [uə̯ɪ̯]
  10. ^ The lack of diphthong consisting of a ơ + back offglide (i.e., [əːʊ̯]) is an apparent gap.
  11. ^ Called thanh điệu in Vietnamese
  12. ^ Note that the name of each tone has the corresponding tonal diacritic on the vowel.
  13. ^ Sources on Vietnamese variation include: Alves (forthcoming), Alves & Nguyễn (2007), Emeneau (1947), Hoàng (1989), Honda (2006), Nguyễn, Đ.-H. (1995), Pham (2005), Thompson (1991[1965]), Vũ (1982), Vương (1981).
  14. ^ Some differences in grammatical words are noted in Vietnamese grammar: Demonstratives, Vietnamese grammar: Pronouns.
  15. ^ Table data from Hoàng (1989).
  16. ^ In southern dialects, v is reported to have a spelling pronunciation (i.e., the spelling influences pronunciation) of [vj] or [bj] among educated speakers. However, educated speakers revert to usual [j] in more relaxed speech. Less educated speakers have [j] more consistently throughout their speech. See: Thompson (1959), Thompson (1965: 85, 89, 93, 97-98).
  17. ^ Gregerson (1981) notes that this variation was present in de Rhodes's time in some initial consonant clusters: mlẽ ~ mnhẽ "reason" (cf. modern Vietnamese lẽ "reason").
  18. ^ Comparison note: As such its grammar relies on word order and sentence structure rather than morphology (in which word changes through inflection). Whereas European languages tend to use morphology to express tense, Vietnamese uses grammatical particles or syntactic constructions.
  19. ^ [1][2]
  20. ^ Nguyễn Đ.-H. (1997: 29) gives the following context: "... a collaborator under the French administration was presented with a congratulatory panel featuring the two Chinese characters quần thần. This Sino-Vietnamese expression could be defined as bầy tôi meaning ‘all the king's subjects’. But those two syllables, when undergoing commutation of rhyme and tone, would generate bồi tây meaning ‘servant in a French household’.
  21. ^ See www.users.bigpond.com/doanviettrung/noilai.html, Language Log's itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001788.html, and tphcm.blogspot.com/2005/01/ni-li.html for more examples.

Bibliography

General

  • Dương, Quảng-Hàm. (1941). Việt-nam văn-học sử-yếu [Outline history of Vietnamese literature]. Saigon: Bộ Quốc gia Giáo dục.
  • Emeneau, M. B. (1947). Homonyms and puns in Annamese. Language, 23 (3), 239-244.
  • Emeneau, M. B. (1951). Studies in Vietnamese (Annamese) grammar. University of California publications in linguistics (Vol. 8). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Hashimoto, Mantaro. (1978). The current state of Sino-Vietnamese studies. Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 6, 1-26.
  • Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1995). NTC's Vietnamese-English dictionary (updated ed.). NTC language dictionaries. Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Pub. Press. ISBN; ISBN
  • Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1997). Vietnamese: Tiếng Việt không son phấn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Rhodes, Alexandre de. (1991). Từ điển Annam-Lusitan-Latinh [original: Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum]. (L. Thanh, X. V. Hoàng, & Q. C. Đỗ, Trans.). Hanoi: Khoa học Xã hội. (Original work published 1651).
  • Thompson, Laurence E. (1991). A Vietnamese reference grammar. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (Original work published 1965). (Online version: www.sealang.net/archives/mks/THOMPSONLaurenceC.htm.)
  • Uỷ ban Khoa học Xã hội Việt Nam. (1983). Ngữ-pháp tiếng Việt [Vietnamese grammar]. Hanoi: Khoa học Xã hội.

Sound system

  • Brunelle, Marc. (2009) Tone perception in Northern and Southern Vietnamese. Journal of Phonetics, 37(1), 79-96.
  • Brunelle, Marc. (2009) Northern and Southern Vietnamese Tone Coarticulation: A Comparative Case Study. Journal of Southeast Asian Linguistics, 1, 49-62.
  • Michaud, Alexis. (2004). Final consonants and glottalization: New perspectives from Hanoi Vietnamese. Phonetica 61) pp. 119-146. Preprint version
  • Nguyễn, Văn Lợi; & Edmondson, Jerold A. (1998). Tones and voice quality in modern northern Vietnamese: Instrumental case studies. Mon-Khmer Studies, 28, 1-18. (Online version: www.sealang.net/archives/mks/NGUYNVnLoi.htm).
  • Thompson, Laurence E. (1959). Saigon phonemics. Language, 35 (3), 454-476.

Pragmatics/Language variation

  • Alves, Mark J. (forthcoming). A look at North-Central Vietnamese. In Papers from the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Arizona State University Press. Pre-publication electronic version: http://www.oocities.com/malves98/Alves_Vietnamese_Northcentral.pdf.
  • 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. Electronic version: http://pacling.anu.edu.au/catalogue/SEALSVIII_final.pdf.
  • Hoàng, Thị Châu. (1989). Tiếng Việt trên các miền đất nước: Phương ngữ học [Vietnamese in different areas of the country: Dialectology]. Hà Nội: Khoa học xã hội.
  • 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. Electronic version: http://www.assta.org/sst/2006/sst2006-119.pdf.
  • 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.
  • 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. Electronic version: http://r1.chass.utoronto.ca/twpl/pdfs/twpl24/Pham_TWPL24.pdf.
  • Sophana, Srichampa. (2004). Politeness strategies in Hanoi Vietnamese speech. Mon-Khmer Studies, 34, 137-157. (Online version: www.sealang.net/archives/mks/SOPHANASrichampa.htm).
  • Sophana, Srichampa. (2005). Comparison of greetings in the Vietnamese dialects of Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City. Mon-Khmer Studies, 35, 83-99. (Online version: www.sealang.net/archives/mks/SOPHANASrichampa.htm).
  • Vũ, Thang 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). Vái 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 Quang Nam speech in Hoi 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.

Historical/Comparative

  • Alves, Mark. (1999). "What's so Chinese about Vietnamese?", in Papers from the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. University of California, Berkeley. PDF
  • 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).
  • Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1986). Alexandre de Rhodes' dictionary. Papers in Linguistics, 19, 1-18.
  • 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
  • Thompson, Laurence E. (1967). The history of Vietnamese finals. Language, 43 (1), 362-371.

Orthography

  • Haudricourt, André-Georges. (1949). Origine des particularités de l'alphabet vietnamien. Dân Việt-Nam, 3, 61-68.
  • Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1955). Quốc-ngữ: The modern writing system in Vietnam. Washington, D. C.: Author.
  • Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1990). Graphemic borrowing from Chinese: The case of chữ nôm, Vietnam's demotic script. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, 61, 383-432.
  • 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. ISBN.

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. ISBN; ISBN (w/ CD); ISBN (w/ cassettes);
  • Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1967). Read Vietnamese: A graded course in written Vietnamese. Rutland, VT: C.E. Tuttle.
  • Lâm, Lý-duc; Emeneau, M. B.; & Steinen, Diether von den. (1944). An Annamese reader. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley.
  • Nguyễn, Đang Liêm. (1970). Vietnamese pronunciation. PALI language texts: Southeast Asia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN -X

External links

Vietnamese language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Simple English

Vietnamese (tiếng Việt) is the official language of Vietnam. It has been strongly influenced by Chinese, particularly Cantonese. Vietnamese is also slightly similar to Khmer. Today it uses Quốc Ngữ, a Latin alphabet similar to English, though it once used Chinese-based symbols called Chữ Nôm. Almost no people know Chữ Nôm today.

Alphabet (Quốc Ngữ)

The Vietnamese alphabet with basic International Phonetic Alphabet pronunciation, without two- and three-letter vowels:

a [a] like a in spa

ă [a]

â [ʌ]

b [b]

c [k]

ch [c]

d [z], [j]

đ [d]

e [ɛ]

ê [e]

g [g/ɣ]

(gh [g/ɣ])

h [h]

i [i]

k [k]

kh [x]

l [l]

m [m]

n [n]

ng [ŋ]

(ngh [ŋ])

nh [ɲ]

o [ɔ]

ô [o]

ơ [ɤ]

p [p]

ph [f]

qu [kw]

r [z], [ɾ]

s [s], [ʂ]

t [t]

th [tʰ]

tr [tʂ], [tɾ]

u [u]

ư [ɯ]

v [v], [j]

x [s]

y [i]



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