Vietnamese Language Guide
VIETNAMESE LANGUAGE TRAVEL GUIDES
Vietnamese, Vietnam's official language, is a tonal language. With each
syllable, there are normally six different tones that can be used, which change
the meaning. This often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the
language. There are other languages spoken such as Chinese, Khmer, Cham and
other languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. Vietnamese
belongs to Mon-Khmer group, and of the Austro-Asiatic language family.
Since Vietnam is located in the heart of South East Asia, its culture and
language have been influenced by the neighboring cultures, especially Chinese.
Also in history Vietnam was a French colony for a long time. This makes the
Vietnamese language now a bit of all. It is easy to find lots of words
originally from Chinese or French in the Vietnamese language used daily
In written form, Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to show
tones. This system of writing called Quá»c Ngá»¯, was created by Catholic
missionaries in the 17th century to translate the scriptures. There used to be a
written form called Chá»¯ NÃ´m, a Chinese-based writing system used from the 13th
century which is not commonly studied now. Before the 13th century all writing
SOME USEFUL VIETNAMESE FOR THE TRAVELER
A guide to pronouncing the Vietnamese words and tones
The spelling can be easily pronounced for those speaking a Latin language
The tones are a bit more daunting
No tone mark: Pronounce with normal flat tone
/: Pronounce with the tone going up
\: Pronounce with the tone going down
. : (a dot underneath) Pronounce with the tone drop down sharply
? : Pronounced
~ : Pronounce with the tone up and down like a wave sound
ChÃ o (pronounced: tsao, down tone): for both hello and goodbye, among
people of the same age
Xin chÃ o: respectful form of ChÃ o
Táº¡m biá»t: Good bye
Xin: please! (showing politeness)
Khá»e khÃ´ng? (kho-e khoong): How are you?
Ngon láº¯m! delicious!
Xin tÃnh tiá»n! May I see the bill, please!
Dáº¡, no rá»i! I have enough, I'm full!
Cáº¡n chÃ©n! bottoms up!
TrÄm pháº§n trÄm! bottoms up!
Say quÃ¡! I'm drunk
GiÃ¡ bao nhiÃªu? (Gi-a, Ba--o, nhi-e-u)
Äáº¯t quÃ¡! (Daat qwua) Too expensive!
Ráº» quÃ¡! Too cheap!
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