Languages of Vietnam

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese (Tieng Viet), a Mon-Khmer language spoken by the majority of inhabitants.

In the past, the Vietnamese used Chu Han - Chinese. In the middle of the 13th century, his own writing, called Chu Nom, based on Chinese characters, was developed.

Nowadays, Vietnamese use the Latin alphabet and six different accents to express the tones. This writing system, called Quoc Ngu, became very popular and brought literacy to the Vietnamese during the French colonial period. The Quoc ngu alphabet, developed in the 17th century by the priest Alexander of Rhodes and other European missionaries, was a means of translating the Catholic writings.

After the First World War, this system replaced the Chinese pictograms (Chu Han and Chu Nom).

Vietnamese is a monosyllabic and tonal language. Six different tones accompanying the syllables change the definition of most words, making it difficult for a foreigner to master this language.

Did you know ?

- In addition to Vietnamese, other minority languages are used. 53 ethnic groups speak about 87 languages, 86 are alive and one is extinct. They are divided into several linguistic families: Viet Muong, Tay-Thai, Mon-Khmer (Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian), Hmong-Dao, Tai-Kadai, Nhom-Han, Tibeto-Burmese, Miao-yao.

- English is commonly used in hotels and in the tourist sector in general. Young people are learning more and more English.

- The French presence for nearly a century has left traces in the vocabulary! A good number of words are borrowed from French and transcribed in Vietnamese, most belonging to the clothing sector, to food, medicine, etc ... French is practiced by generations who knew the colonial era and by young people mainly in the North.

Some common expressions

+ Hello - Xin chào / Chào              + Hello (on the phone) - Alô                 + How are you - Khoe khong            + Fine, thanks - Khoe, cam on
+ My name is ...... – Ten toi la .......   + Please - Lam on                                 + Thanks - Cam on                            + Yes - Vâng                                + No - Không
+ Excuse me - Xin loi                     + Bye - Tam biet