About the Vietnamese language

The Vietnamese language is the native language of far more than 90 Million people. Vietnamese belongs to the Mon-Khmer languages within the Austroasiatic language family. Although the language isn’t related to Chinese, the majority of its vocabulary has Chinese origins. This can be explained by Vietnamese history. The influence of 1000 years of political domination by the Chinese left their marks.

The influence from Europe through missionaries and the colonization through the French led to additional loanwords in the Vietnamese language. However, the Chinese characters were officially replaced in the beginning of the 20th century with a Romanized written form under the leadership of the French colonial administration.

The Vietnamese language can approximately be classified into three different dialects, the dialect of the North (Hanoi dialect), of Central Vietnam (Huế dialect) and of the South (Saigon dialect). But North and South Vietnamese are the predominant dialects.

The difference appears not in the grammar, but is limited to the pronunciation and the sporadicly divergent use of words.

Which of these dialects you want to learn is a matter of taste. It depends, what you intent to do with the language. If you want to travel around mainly in the Mekong Delta of the South and around the area of Ho-Chi-Minh-City, you should learn the Saigon dialect. If you like more the North of Vietnam and the area around the capital city, you should stick to the Hanoi dialect.

One advantage of the Hanoi dialect is its use as official language, which is based on that dialect. Also the influence of the dialect predominates both in digital media and in the literature.

Although I grew up with the Saigon dialect as my second mother tongue, personally I don’t want to prefer any of the dialects. It is for you to decide, for you on your own. Whatever decision you make and which dialect you learn, you should know a little about the differences anyway.

Vietnamese is a language with mostly monosyllabic words. The form of the words is inalterable. This means, there is no flexion (declination, conjugation). In sentences the grammatical function of the words will be clear from the position within the sentence.

The grammar of the language is manageable, thus Vietnamese is basically easy to learn. Since Vietnamese belongs to the tonal languages, only the relatively unfamiliar use of tones as an essential element of words complicate the learning process. You need just a few words for a first conversion.


The post has sparked your interest in the language? Great! A link to my resources for learning Vietnamese will be provided here soon. Till then I’ve to put you off with my general resources for langage learning: The ultimate collection of useful language resources for you.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey! We love the design of your blog, the whole idea and read a little bit about you…and want to find out more! Do you think there will be more posts soon? Greetings from UK!

    • Dear Llamateurs!

      Thanks a lot for your lovely comment! Right now I am a little busy to organize my upcoming world trip, but I promise, as soon as I have a little more air to breathe, I will add more posts and more content for the both (or should I say: the four!?) of you – and of course for everyone else… I’ll take a closer look into your blog soon, but I already like the few things I’ve already seen! Hope we can stay in touch…. Or even meet somewhere in the world…

      Safe travels!


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