VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Language

Language in Vietnam - Vietnamese - Pronouns - Hill tribe Language

LANGUAGES IN VIETNAM

Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam, and it is spoken throughout the country. There are dialectical differences between the north, central and southern regions. There are also dozens of different languages spoken by the various ethnic minorities, particularly in the central highlands and in the far north of the country. Khmer, the Cambodian language, is spoken in parts of the Mekong Delta, and Lao and various Chinese dialects are evident in areas bordering Laos and China. The Vietnamese people's knowledge of foreign languages reflects their country's relationship with foreign powers - cordial or otherwise - in recent history. Much of Vietnam's elder generation still speak French, while many middle-aged Vietnamese speak Russian and other Eastern. European languages - many of these people spent time in countries like Russia, Bulgaria and the former East Germany during the Cold War (at least until it thawed in the late 1980s). Today, however, Vietnam's youth has fully embraced the English language. A fair number of young people also study Japanese, French and other Western European languages. The most widely spoken foreign languages in Vietnam are Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), English and French, more or less in that order. People in their 50s and older (who grew up during the colonial period) are much more likely to understand some French than southerners of the successive generation, for whom English was indispensable for professional and commercial contacts with the Americans. Some southern Vietnamese men - former combat interpreters - speak a quaint form of English peppered with all sorts of charming southern-American expressions such as 'y'all come back’ and 'it ain't worth didley squat', pronounced with a perceptible drawl. Apparently, they worked with Ameri-cans from the deep south, carefully studied their pronunciation and diligently learned every nuance. Many of the Vietnamese who can speak English - especially former South Vietnamese soldiers and officials - learned it while working with the Americans during the war. After reunification, almost all of them spent periods of time ranging from a few months to 15 years in 're-education camps'. Many of these former South Vietnamese soldiers and officials will be delighted to renew contact with Americans, with whose compatriots they spent so much time, often in very difficult circumstances, more than half a lifetime ago. These days almost everyone has a desire to learn English. If you're looking to make contacts with English students, the best place is at the basic food stalls in university areas. Spoken Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin) is making a definite comeback after years of being supressed. The large number of free-spending tourists and investors from Taiwan and Hong Kong provide the chief motivation for studying Chinese. In addition, cross-border trade with mainland China has been increasing rapidly and those who are able to speak Chinese are well positioned to profit from it. After reunification, the teaching of Rus-sian was stressed all over the country. With the collapse of the USSR in 1991, all interest in studying Russian ground to a screeching halt. Most Vietnamese who bothered to learn the language have either forgotten it or are in the process of forgetting it.