50 Interesting Spoken Languages In Vietnam

June 29, 2021

What languages are spoken in Vietnam? You can easily come up with the answer "Vietnamese." Vietnamese is the national language of Vietnam. Besides, there are more than 50 other spoken languages in Vietnam too.

You do not need to learn all of them to talk to Vietnamese people, but it is fascinating to know more about the Vietnamese culture and languages. Let's get started!

 

The Official Vietnamese Language

As mentioned, the Vietnamese language (aka Tiếng Việt) is the official language of Vietnam. It is spoken as the first language by about 85% of the Vietnamese population (approximately 80 million people). The Vietnamese language is also spoken as the second language by Vietnamese ethnic minorities. The official documents from the government, such as laws and regulations, are written in Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese language has six tones, a Latin alphabet (aka Chữ Quốc Ngữ) comprising 29 letters and five main dialects. Vietnamese vocabulary includes native Vietnamese words, Chinese-Vietnamese phrases, and borrowed words from English and French.

Regarding the Vietnamese dialects, there are two main ones that foreigners learn. First, the Northern Vietnamese accent is taught and spoken in northern Vietnam, such as Hanoi, Haiphong, and Hai Duong cities. Meanwhile, the Southern Vietnamese accent is spoken in south Vietnam, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, and Ben Tre provinces. The differences between the two dialects are mainly how people pronounce some consonants, vowels, and vocabulary.

The Central Vietnamese dialect is spoken by the Vietnamese people living in central Vietnam, such as Hue, Danang, Quang Nam provinces. This dialect is also a popular one. However, it is not widely taught to foreigners because of its difficulty. Many Vietnamese speakers from the North and South complained that they could not understand the central dialect.

 

Other Spoken Languages In Vietnam

spoken languages in vietnam
Vietnamese ethnic minorities living in mountainous regions

There are fifty-four (54) ethnicities in Vietnam. Kinh is the most popular one that accounts for just over 85.32% of the population of Vietnam, according to the 2019 census. There are 53 minorities in Vietnam who are living mainly in the mountainous regions and southwest Vietnam. Some minorities such as Thai, Cham, Khmer can be found in other countries like Thailand, China, Laos, and Cambodia.

Each minority community has its own language. Therefore, there are 53 minority languages spoken in Vietnam. Some minority languages have a writing system, while some other minority languages have lost or don't have any writing system.

54 spoken Vietnamese languages belong to 3 linguistics families, including the Austroasiatic language, the Sino-Tibetan, and the Thai-Kadai (the Southeast Asia linguistics family). The language of Vietnam ethnic groups are divided into eight groups:

  1. Viet - Muong language
  2. Tay - Thai language
  3. Mon - Khmer language
  4. Hmong - Dao language
  5. Kadai language
  6. Austro-Polynenisian language
  7. Chinese language
  8. Tibeto language

The national language, which is Vietnamese, belongs to the Viet-Muong group. It has six tones, while some other minority languages do not have tones, such as the Khmer language.

 

Is Chinese Spoken In Vietnam Too?

Chinese is a minority language spoken in Vietnam by Chinese-Vietnamese citizens (aka người Hoa). According to the 2019 census, there were 749,466 Chinese-Vietnamese citizens in Vietnam. These people are living mainly in the mountainous regions in the north of Vietnam, near China. However, you can also find Chinese-Vietnamese people living in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.

The Chinese dialects spoken in Vietnam are Cantonese (traditional Chinese), Hokkien, and Mandarin. They are spoken in daily life within the community. Many seniors don't even speak the official Vietnamese language but the Chinese language.

 

Is English Spoken In Vietnam?

Since Vietnam opened up its economy to foreign markets, English has become a popular language in Vietnam. English is used in many companies that either do business with foreign businesses or managed by foreigners. There are a large number of English language centers or schools opened to meet the needs in Vietnam.

English is spoken more often among Vietnamese students who study in international schools such as RMIT, Vinschool. English is also used regularly in IT companies.

Although English is popularly used and taught, it has not been another official language in Vietnam yet. Therefore, Vietnamese people will speak Vietnamese rather than speak English to each other. English is used only when there are foreigners in the organization.

 

Is French Spoken In Vietnam?

In Vietnamese history, the French language was added to the education system in Vietnam from 1884 to 1945, under the French's colonization. By that time, several Vietnamese people could speak French fluently, such as Ho Chi Minh (or also known as Nguyen Ai Quoc). However, French did not become an official language in Vietnam.

Nowadays, French a foreign language learned by Vietnamese people. French is also a language subject in some schools' curriculum.

 

What Foreign Languages Do Vietnamese People Learn?

Thanks to globalization, Vietnamese people are encouraged to learn many foreign languages. English is the most popular foreign language studied nationwide. Besides, other languages are also known by Vietnamese people, as listed below:

  1. English
  2. Chinese (Mandarin)
  3. French
  4. Japanese
  5. Korean
  6. Russian
  7. German

Some Vietnamese speakers also learn other foreign languages such as Thai, Italian, Spanish. However, these languages are not widely learned in Vietnam.

 

Conclusion

Vietnam becomes more beautiful and attractive to tourists because of its diversity. With a number of 54 ethnicities, Vietnam is the country where so many languages are spoken. However, you will not have to learn all languages before traveling to Vietnam. Learn the official Vietnamese language can help you communicate with at least 80 million Vietnamese people. Mind the dialects when you travel to different regions in Vietnam to avoid misunderstanding.

Can you learn all the Vietnamese languages in the Ling App? Unfortunately, you can only learn the official language. For the minority languages, you can contact a language university if you are interested.

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