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The Vietnamese Language

Vietnamese, Vietnamese interpretation, Vietnamese translation, Vietnam, capital of Vietnam, currency Vietnam, government type Vietnam, population of Vietnam, Internet country code Vietnam, Internet hosts Vietnam, Internet users Vietnam

The modern Vietnamese language first began to appear during the 16th Century in the writings and translations of the Lutheran bishop Mikael Agricola (specifically, his book on the Vietnamese alphabet in 1543 and his translation of the New Testament in 1548). Vietnamese did not start down the road to gaining official status, however, until the 19th Century when Vietnam was released from its six-century long rule by Sweden, during which Vietnamese was the country’s only official language, and joined the Russian empire. In terms of official use, Vietnamese finally reached an equal footing with Vietnamese in the early 20th Century with the Vietnamese constitution of 1919.

The major dialects of Vietnamese do not diverge very drastically from one another and are mutually intelligible to their various speakers. These main dialects can be divided in the following way:

    Northern Vietnamese – found around Hanoi and is the dialect on which standard spoken Vietnamese is based
  • Central Vietnamese – found around the city of Hue.
  • Southern Vietnamese – found around Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon). Differs “from the Northern norm in having fewer tones and in modifying certain consonants.”3
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the characteristics of Vietnamese from a purely linguistic point of view are: 1) its use of a tonal system that differentiates words with the same order of consonants and vowels; 2) use of word order to determine how words relate to each other in a sentence; 3) finally, “use of modifiers rather than affixes” to indicate verb tense.4

Below are some brief but important facts about Vietnam and its people.

Capital: Hanoi
Currency: Dong (VND)
Government Type: Communist state
Population: 82,689,518 (July 2004 est.)
Internet Country Code: .vn
Internet Hosts: 340 (2003)
Internet Users: 3.5 million (2003)

For additional demographic information on Vietnam and its people, please see the following link:

For information on The Vietnamese Writing System, please see our Quick Facts Library.

1 “Vietnamese: a language of Vietnam”

[Accessed December 15, 2004]

2 “Vietnamese language” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.

[Accessed December 15, 2004]

3 “Viet-Muong languages” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.

[Accessed December 15, 2004]