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Vietnamese Language and Scripts

Among the 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups some have had their own scripts for a long time and some have not preserved their ancient scripts. As a matter of fact, some ethnic groups consisting of some hundreds of individuals living in remote areas have their own languages.

More than 80% of the population speaks Vietnamese or Kinh/Viet Nam, the natinal language. Many ethnic minority people speak Kinh and their own native language.

Three scripts have influenced Viet Nam’s history:

  • Chinese Han ideograms were used until the beginning of the 20th century.
  • The Nom script, created between the 11th and 14th centuries, was derived from Han script to transcribe the popular national language.
  • European missionaries in the 17th century first developed quoc ngu, the Romanised transcription of the Vietnamese language used to this day.