There is less internal variation within the Southern region than the other regions due to its relatively late settlement by Vietnamese speakers (in around the end of the 15th century).
Vietnamese, the official language, is a tonal language. With each syllable, there are six different tones that can be used, which change the definition and it often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the language. There are other languages spoken as well such as Chinese, Khmer, Cham and other languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. Although there are some similarities to Southeast Asian languages, such as Chinese, Vietnamese is thought to be a separate language group, although a member of the Austro-Asiatic language family.
some useful Vietnamese words and phrases
Vietnamese is a branch of Austro-Asiatic linguistic family and is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam’s population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam.
As the national language, Vietnamese is spoken throughout Vietnam by the Vietnamese people, as well as by ethnic minorities. It is also spoken in overseas Vietnamese communities
Currently, the written Vietnamese language is based on the Latin alphabet. It was codified in the 17th century by a French Jesuit missionary named Alexandre de Rhodes, based on works of earlier Portuguese missionaries.
For most of its history, the entity now known as Vietnam used written classical Chinese. In the 13th century, however, the country invented a writing system, called Chu Nom, making use of Chinese characters with phonetic elements in order to better suit the tones associated with the Vietnamese language. Chu Nom was proven to be much more efficient than classical Chinese characters that it was extensively used in the 17th and 18th centuries for poetry and literature.
Vietnamese has six tones with one flat tone (no mark) and other 5 diacritic marks including:
ngang ‘level’ mid level (no mark) ma ‘ghost’
huyền ‘hanging’ low falling (often breathy) ` (grave accent) mà
sắc ‘sharp’ high rising ´ (acute accent) má ‘cheek, mother
hỏi ‘asking’ mid dipping-rising ̉ (hook) mả ‘tomb, grave’
ngã ‘tumbling’ high breaking-rising ˜ (tilde) mã ‘horse (Sino-Vietnamese),
nặng ‘heavy’ low falling constricted (short length) ̣ (dot below) mạ ‘rice seedling’
Tone is indicated by written above or below the vowel.
Vietnamese has traditionally been divided into three dialect regions: North, Central, and South. These dialect regions differ mostly in their sound systems, but also in vocabulary and grammar. The North-central and Central regional varieties, which have a significant amount of vocabulary differences, are generally less mutually intelligible to Northern and Southern speakers. There is less internal variation within the Southern region than the other regions due to its relatively late settlement by Vietnamese speakers (in around the end of the 15th century).
The North-central region is particularly conservative. Along the coastal areas, regional variation has been neutralized to a certain extent, while more mountainous regions preserve more variation. As for sociolinguistic attitudes, the North-central varieties are often felt to be “peculiar” or “difficult to understand” by speakers of other dialects.
Vietnamese, like many languages in Southeast Asia, is an analytic language. Vietnamese does not use morphological marking of case, gender, number or. Also like other languages in the region, Vietnamese syntax conforms to subject–verb–object word order, is head-initial, and has a noun classifier system. Additionally, it is pro-drop, and allows verb serialization.