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Learning Vietnamese

Learning Vietnamese
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam and is widely used in Vietnamese communities in North America, Europe, and Australia. There are more than 85 million speakers of Vietnamese in Vietnam and more than 2 million elsewhere around the world.

Writing System
Roman alphabet

Language Tips

You’ll quickly realize that Vietnamese is a tonal language —one that uses pitch to distinguish between words. The tones can be distinguished by their rise and/or fall and duration. Changing the tone of a word may result in a different or non-existent word. Rosetta Stone teaches you to recognize and use Vietnamese tones in Level 1 of your course.  These tones—attached to uppercase A’s in these examples—are as follows:

 

Mid-level

A

Low-falling

À

High-rising

Á

Dipping

Broken high-rising

Ã

Glottal low-falling

In addition to the diacritics listed above, there are also some diacritics that simply indicate different letters of the alphabet (i.e., ă, â, ê, ô, ơ, ư, and đ).

  • All words in Vietnamese, with the exception of loanwords, consist of only one syllable.
  • You’ll find that words do not change form to indicate number or tense. Instead, these are indicated by other words in the sentence or other contextual information.
  • There is no single way to say ‘I,’ ‘you,’ or ‘we.’ Terms that Vietnamese speakers use to address each other are determined by such factors as age, gender, and familial or social relationship.
  • Polite speech, used to show respect when addressing elders, often uses the word .
  • Much of the vocabulary in Vietnamese, including many words relating to science and religion, originates from Chinese. Many words for Western articles of clothing come from French.

Language Family
Austro-Asiatic

Dialect
Northern dialect. This dialect is the most widely spoken dialect in Hanoi. It is also considered to be mutually intelligible with the other two main dialects (Central and Southern). The Northern dialect, unlike the others, distinguishes among all six tones when spoken.

Accent
As spoken in Hanoi

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