Vietnamese is the national, official language of Vietnam. It is the native language of Vietnamese people (Kinh), and of about three million Vietnamese residing elsewhere. It also is spoken as a first or second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. Vietnamese was originally written with a Siniform (Chinese-like) script known as Chữ-nôm. At first most Vietnamese literature was essentially Chinese in structure and vocabulary.

Interesting Facts About the Vietnamese Language and Vietnam

  • Vietnam rice production ranks second in the world, after Thailand.
  • 85% of Vietnamese classify themselves as Buddhist.
  • Spoken Vietnamese is tonal.
  • Vietnamese was written in Chinese characters until the 13th century, when Vietnam developed its own set of characters, chu nom.

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Learn to speak VietnameseThe Origins of the Vietnamese Language

The origin of the Vietnamese language is the subject of debate among linguists. It is now generally thought that Vietnamese branched from the Austro-Asiatic language family, with its closest relatives being the Khmer language of Cambodia and several minority languages in India, Bangladesh, and other areas of Southeast Asia.

Where Is Vietnamese Spoken?

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language spoken by approximately 90 million people, obviously including nearly everyone in Vietnam as well as over three million outside of the country, including Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Laos, Martinique, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK, the US and Vanuatu. Vietnamese has been the official language of Vietnam since the country gained independence from France in 1954.