Asian Geographic - - On Assignment - LAN­GUAGE TIPS NUM­BERS

Nine­teenth-cen­tury schol­ars – James Lo­gan (1852), An­dré-ge­orges Haudricourt (1953–55), Michel Per­lus (1975), Wil­liam Gage (1985), Nguyễn Văn Lợi (1993), Nguyễn Tài Cẩn (1995) and Mark Alves (2006) – have been urged by the core vo­cab­u­lary and syn­tax to con­clude that Viet­namese is a Mon-kh­mer Aus­troasi­atic lan­guage, de­spite many Chi­nese loan­words in gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tion, trade, cul­ture, medicine, arts, phi­los­o­phy and lit­er­acy in dif­fer­ent times: the Han Dy­nasty, the Tang Dy­nasty, and most of the in­de­pen­dence pe­riod and the modern era. French loan­words were also added dur­ing the colo­nial pe­riod.

Ap­prox­i­mately 80 mil­lion Kinh ( Viet) peo­ple in Viet­nam and 3 mil­lion Viet­namese around the world speak the lan­guage, which has six tones ( ngang, sắc, huyền, hỏi, ngã and nặng). While north­ern­ers use all six tones, south­ern­ers pro­nounce tones hỏi and ngã the same and dis­re­gard ter­mi­nal con­so­nants. How­ever, ngã is a unique Viet­namese tone, which sets it apart from other Asian lan­guages.

In terms of so­cio-his­tor­i­cal con­text, Viet­nam started ex­pand­ing south­ward from the 11th cen­tury on­wards, first as­sim­i­lat­ing cen­tral Viet­nam’s Champa civil­i­sa­tion and then ad­vanc­ing fur­ther south into the Kh­mer king­dom and mix­ing with the Fu­nan civil­i­sa­tion. This is the root of the dif­fer­ences be­tween north­ern and south­ern di­alects. It also ex­plains the lex­i­cal en­rich­ment.

Ana­log­i­cally, it is some­what sim­i­lar to Bri­tish and Sin­ga­porean English: the same words can have dif­fer­ent mean­ings in each re­gion. For ex­am­ple, the word ốm means ‘ill or sick’ for north­ern Viet­namese, but ‘skinny’ for south­ern­ers. For­tu­nately, these dif­fer­ences have en­riched the Viet­namese lex­i­con. For in­stance, ‘big’ is to for north­ern­ers and Lớn for south­ern­ers. When com­bined, To Lớn has a new mean­ing – ‘very big or gi­ant’ – be­cause To con­cerns width while Lớn is about height. Many ini­tial and fi­nal par­ti­cles can­not be trans­lated into English, such as the fi­nal particle ạ for re­spect.

The na­tional Viet­namese al­pha­bet Chữ Quốc Ngữ makes it eas­ier for learn­ers to quickly ac­quire read­ing and writ­ing skills.

Viet­namese ( Tieng Viet) is the na­tional and of­fi­cial lan­guage of Viet­nam and spo­ken as a sec­ond lan­guage by many eth­nic mi­nori­ties in the coun­try

WRIT­TEN SCRIPT Viet­namese, pre­vi­ously writ­ten in tra­di­tional Chi­nese, be­came the of­fi­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive lan­guage of Viet­nam in the 20th cen­tury. How­ever, even be­fore that, the Viet­namese writ­ing sys­tem was al­ready gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity among the peo­ple. In the 13th cen­tury, Bud­dhist schol­ars and pri­ests in­vented chu nom, a writ­ing sys­tem util­is­ing Chi­nese char­ac­ters with pho­netic el­e­ments. Later, a new writ­ing sys­tem based on Latin script was cre­ated: Viet­namese is a tone lan­guage, where the mean­ings of words and sen­tences are strongly af­fected by the pitch.

BACK­GROUND OF TA­GA­LOG Spo­ken as a first lan­guage by about a third of the pop­u­la­tion of the Philip­pines, Ta­ga­log served as the ba­sis for the na­tional lan­guage in 1937 and was coined ‘Pilipino’ in 1939. In 1971, Ta­ga­log be­came known as ‘Filipino’. When a new con­sti­tu­tion was put in place in 1987, it de­noted Filipino as the na­tional lan­guage. Ta­ga­log was in­flu­enced by English, Hindi, Ara­bic, San­skrit, Malay, Chi­nese, Ja­vanese, Ja­panese and Tamil. It also bears in­put from Nahu­atl, a Na­tive Amer­i­can lan­guage group, due to trade with Mex­ico from

‘Taglish’, or ‘En­glog’, is the Filipinos’ in­for­mal form of speech that jum­bles English and Ta­ga­log.

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