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Vietnamese language facts for kids

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Native to Vietnam
Native speakers 75 million  (2007)ne2007
Language family
  • Vietic
    • Viet–Muong
      • Vietnamese
Writing system Latin (Vietnamese alphabet)
Vietnamese Braille
Chữ nôm (used to limited extent)
Official status
Official language in  Vietnam
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Recognised minority language in  Czech Republic
Linguasphere 46-EBA
Natively Vietnamese-speaking areas.png
Natively Vietnamese-speaking (non-minority) areas of Vietnam

Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt) is the official language of Vietnam. Like many other languages in Asia, Vietnamese is a tonal language


Vietnamese has been strongly influenced by Chinese languages. It has a shared history with other languages such as Khmer. It now uses a Latin alphabet that is based on the French alphabet but was written based on Chinese characters, called Chữ Nôm. Few people know Chữ Nôm today.

Most Chinese speakers who live in Vietnam now use regular Chinese script for calligraphy, but some traditional calligraphy artists can still be found. For example, Hồ Chí Minh City (sometimes still called Sài Gòn) has a district that is famous for its popular Chinatown.

Vietnamese adds new words when they are needed, especially in the professions of engineering, science, and academics. Also there has been an increase in media use. Some social words from the media are now accepted as common.

Spoken language

The spoken language of Vietnam changes in each province. The greater the distance between provinces, the stronger the difference. There some diffference between the Hanoian and the Mekong is called a dialects. The national education for all of Vietnam now usesthe Hanoian dialect, but each ethnic tribe may still use a different dialect, language, or vocabulary.


There are speaking programs that use Vietnamese. A computer add-on for the Firefox web browser, Vietnamese TTS (Text to Speech), can read text with the 'Vietnamization needs

Audio libraries are available to reproduce Vietnamese. Google translate uses a TTS reader and sound library to read Vietnamese in simple sentences. Portable electronic translators are also very popular. Kim Tu Dien makes the most common portable dictionary for the Vietnamese market.

Written language


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


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


There are more triphthongs in Vietnamese than English, such as 'uye'.

Vietnamese syllables

The syllables refers to the Chinese use of two characters as syllables. Vietnamese also uses one syllable as a word.Like in English, people can say just 'go'. For more emphasis, it could be said twice in Vietnamese. That is common in Asia. n languages. Some Australian Aboriginal languages do the same thing. So, 'go - go' (Vietnamese: [đi đi] Error: {{Lang}}: text has italic markup (help)) means "go now" but with emphasis. However, 'go' is also common in Vietnamese.

Many single syllables are used in Vietnamese. They can form sentences without pairing with other syllables as they do in Chinese. Readers (and speakers) still notice that many syllables, in most sentences, are paired.

Vietnamization (Make it sounds like "Vietnamese")

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

The first rule for vietnamization is that Vietnamese word or syllables are not normally broken by a consonant: (Việt Nam). An example of how to break a foreign word into two syllables is mô tô, one of the words for "motorbike", is a vietnamized version of 'motor' and 'auto' (ô tô). However, the rule has exceptions: lôgic.

When introducing a common foreign word, people vietnamize the word in at least one spoken demonstration for Vietnamese listeners.

  • This rule should explain a problem with the foreign use of the family name Nguyễn. It is not New Yen since y is not a consonant in Vietnamese. The y is pronounced as a vowel as in English many and penny.

The second (softer) rule for vietnamization is that the sound of each syllable must be made a little closer to Viet sounds. Tone marks for vowel letters are added: lôgic is an alteration of logic and would be need for a few subjects.


Any word can be an exception to vietnamization. Names like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton might be attempted by Vietnamese-speakers. In writing, these foreign names will mostly stay together. Names like David are easy for the Vietnamese to say and so they have become very popular in Englishwriting.



Exclamations are very popular in Vietnamese. People can use exclamations as an introduction to things said. People can also comment with a quick exclamation after they say something. The exclamation may express a feeling or just an expression.


Conjunctions are used in Vietnamese.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Idioma vietnamita para niños

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