Vietnamese alphabet

Last updated
Vietnamese Latin Alphabet
Chữ Quốc Ngữ
Script type
CreatorPortuguese Jesuits, [1] [2] [3] Alexandre de Rhodes
Languages Vietnamese, other indigenous languages of Vietnam
Related scripts
Parent systems

The Vietnamese alphabet (Vietnamese : Chữ Quốc Ngữ, "script of the national language") is the modern Latin writing script or writing system for the Vietnamese language. It uses the Latin script based on Romance languages [4] developed by Portuguese missionaries. [1]


The Vietnamese alphabet contains 29 letters, including nine with diacritics, five of which are used to designate a tone (a, à, á, , ã, and ) and the other four used for other letters of the alphabet (ă, â/ê/ô, ơ, ư). The large number of letters with diacritics, which can even stack twice on the same letter (e.g. nhất — "first"), makes it quite recognizable among Latin scripts. [5]

Letter names and pronunciation

Handwritten Vietnamese Alphabet Vietnamese Decision 31 Cursive Chart.svg
Handwritten Vietnamese Alphabet
Vietnamese alphabet [6]
LetterName (when pronounced) IPA Name when

used in spelling

Hà NộiSài Gòn
A aa/aː˧//aː˧/
Ă ăá/aː˧˥//aː˧˥/
B b/ɓe˧//ɓe˧/bờ/ɓəː˨˩/
C c/se˧//se˧/cờ/kəː˨˩/
D d/ze˧//je˧/dờ/zəː˨˩/
Đ đđê/ɗe˧//ɗe˧/đờ/ɗəː˨˩/
E ee/ɛ˧//ɛ˧/
Ê êê/e˧//e˧/
G ggiê/ʒe˧//ʒe˧, ɹe˧/gờ/ɣəː˨˩/
H hhát, hắt/ha:t˧˥//hak˧˥/hờ/həː˨˩/
I ii ngắn/i˧ ŋan˧˥//ɪi̯˧ ŋaŋ˧˥/ [7] i/i˧/


K kca/kaː˧//kaː˧/cờ/kəː˨˩/
L len lờ/ɛn˧ ləː˨˩//ɛŋ˧ ləː˨˩/lờ/ləː˨˩/
M mem mờ/ɛm˧ məː˨˩//ɛm˧ məː˨˩/mờ/məː˨˩/
N nen nờ, anh nờ/ɛn˧ nəː˨˩//an˧ nəː˨˩/nờ/nəː˨˩/
O oo/ɔ˧//ɔ˧/
Ô ôô/o˧//o˧/
Ơ ơơ/əː˧//əː˧/
P ppê, bê phở/pe˧//pe˧/pờ/pəː˨˩/
Q qquy/ku˧, kwi˧//kwi˧/quờ




R re rờ/ɛ˧ rəː˨˩//ɛ˧ ɹəː˨˩/rờ/rəː˨˩/
S sét xì, ét xờ/ɛt˦˥ si˨˩//ɛt˦˥, ə:t˦˥ (sə˨˩)/sờ/ʂəː˨˩/
T t/te˧//te˧/tờ/təː˨˩/
U uu/u˧//ʊu̯˧/ [7]
Ư ưư/ɨ˧//ɯ̽ɯ̯˧/ [7]
V v/ve˧//ve˧/vờ/vəː˧/
X xích xì/ik˦˥ si˨˩//ɪ̈t˦˥ (si˨˩)/xờ/səː˨˩/
Y yy dài/i˧ zaːj˨˩//ɪi̯˧ jaːj˨˩/ [7] y/i˧/


There are six tones, each with a separate diacritic, which are marked in the IPA as suprasegmentals following the phonemic value. It uses all 22 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet plus 6 additional "letters" where 4 letters are with the other 3 diacritics: Ă/ă, Â/â, Ê/ê, Ô/ô, Ơ/ơ, Ư/ư and the letter Đ/đ except for F/f, J/j, W/w and Z/z. The aforementioned 4 letters are only used to write loanwords, languages of other ethnic groups in the country based on Vietnamese phonetics to differentiate the meanings or even Vietnamese dialects, for example: dz or z for Northern Vietnamese pronunciation of "gi" in standard Vietnamese, or to distinguish the from the Vietnamese D (pronounced y/j or dz/z) and from Đ (pronounced D like in English).



The alphabet is largely derived from Portuguese with major influence from French, although the usage of gh and gi was borrowed from Italian (compare ghetto , Giuseppe ) and that for c/k/qu from Greek and Latin (compare canis , kinesis , quō vādis ), mirroring the English usage of these letters (compare cat , kite , queen ).

GraphemeWord-Initial (IPA)Word-FinalNotes
B b/ɓ/
C c/k///k is used instead when preceding i y e ê. K is also used before U in the Vietnamese city Pleiku.
qu is used instead of co cu if a /w/ on-glide exists.
Realized as [ k ] in word-final position following rounded vowels u ô o.
Ch ch///c//ʲk///Multiple phonemic analyses of final ch have been proposed (main article).
D d/z//j/In Middle Vietnamese, d represented /ð/. d was used to write native Vietnamese words and gi was used to write words of Chinese origin.
Đ đ/ɗ/
G g/ɣ/
Gh ghSpelling used gh instead of g before i e ê, seemingly to follow the Italian convention. g is not allowed in these environments.
Gi gi/z//j/In Middle Vietnamese, gi represented /ʝ/. The distinction between d and gi is now purely etymological (and is the only one) in most modern dialects. Realized as [ʒ] in Northern spelling pronunciation. Spelled g before another i. [lower-alpha 1]
H h/h/
K k/k/Spelling used instead of c before i y e ê to follow the European tradition. c is not allowed in these environments.
Kh kh/x/In Middle Vietnamese, kh was pronounced [ ]
L l/l/
M m/m//m/
N n/n//n//ŋ/In Southern Vietnamese, word-final n is realized as [ ŋ ] if not following i ê.
Ng ng/ŋ//ŋ/Realized as [ŋ͡m] in word-final position following rounded vowels u ô o.
Ngh nghSpelling used instead of ng before i e ê in accordance with gh.
Nh nh/ɲ//ʲŋ//n/Multiple phonemic analyses of final nh have been proposed (main article).
P p/p/Only occurs initially in loanwords. Some Vietnamese pronounce it as a "b" sound instead (as in Arabic).
Ph ph/f/In Middle Vietnamese, ph was pronounced [ ]
Qu qu//Spelling used in place of co cu if a /w/ on-glide exists.
R r/z//r/Variably pronounced as a fricative [ ʐ ], approximant [ ɹ ], flap [ ɾ ] or trill [ r ] in Southern speech.
S s/s//ʂ/Realized as [ʃ] in Northern spelling pronunciation.
T t/t////k/In Southern Vietnamese, word-final t is realized as [ k ] if not following i ê.
Th th//
Tr tr///ʈ/Realized as [tʃ] in Northern spelling pronunciation.
V v/v/In Middle Vietnamese, it was represented by a b with flourish B with flourish.svg and was pronounced [ β ].
Can be realized as [ v ] in Southern speech through spelling pronunciation and in loanwords.
X x/s/In Middle Vietnamese, x was pronounced [ ɕ ].
  1. This causes some ambiguity with the diphthong ia/, for example gia could be either gi+a[za ~ ja] or gi+ia[ziə̯ ~ jiə̯]. If there is a tone mark the ambiguity is resolved: giá is gi+á and gía is gi+ía.



The correspondence between the orthography and pronunciation is somewhat complicated. In some cases, the same letter may represent several different sounds, and different letters may represent the same sound. This is because the orthography was designed centuries ago and the spoken language has changed, as shown in the chart directly above that contrasts the difference between Middle and Modern Vietnamese.

The letters y and i are mostly equivalent, and there is no concrete rule that says when to use one or the other, except in sequences like ay and uy (i.e. tay ("arm, hand") is read /tă̄j/ while tai ("ear") is read /tāj/). There have been attempts since the late 20th century to standardize the orthography by replacing all the vowel uses of y with i, the latest being a decision from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education in 1984. These efforts seem to have had limited effect. In textbooks published by Nhà Xuất bản Giáo dục ("Publishing House of Education"), y is used to represent /i/ only in Sino-Vietnamese words that are written with one letter y alone (diacritics can still be added, as in ý, ), at the beginning of a syllable when followed by ê (as in yếm, yết), after u and in the sequence ay; therefore such forms as *lý and *kỹ are not "standard", though they are much preferred elsewhere. Most people and the popular media continue to use the spelling that they are most accustomed to.

Spelling and pronunciation in Vietnamese
a /a/ ([æ] in some dialects) except as below
 /ă/ in au/ăw/ and ay/ăj/ (but /a/ in ao/aw/ and ai/aj/)
 /ăj/ before syllable-final nh/ŋ/ and ch/k/, see
  Vietnamese phonology#Analysis of final ch, nh
 /ə̯/ in ưa/ɨə̯/, ia/iə̯/ and ya/iə̯/
 /ə̯/ in ua except after q [note 1]
ă /ă/
â /ə̆/
e /ɛ/
ê /e/ except as below
 /ə̆j/ before syllable-final nh/ŋ/ and ch/k/, see
  Vietnamese phonology#Analysis of final ch, nh
 /ə̯/ in /iə̯/ and /iə̯/
i /i/ except as below
 /j/ after any vowel letter
o /ɔ/ except as below
 /ăw/ before ng and c [note 2]
 /w/ after any vowel letter (= after a or e)
 /w/ before any vowel letter except i (= before ă, a or e)
ô /o/ except as below
 /ə̆w/ before ng and c except after a u that is not preceded by a q [note 3]
 /ə̯/ in except after q [note 4]
ơ /ə/ except as below
 /ə̯/ in ươ/ɨə̯/
u /u/ except as below
 /w/ after q or any vowel letter
 /w/ before any vowel letter except a, ô and i
 Before a, ô and i: /w/ if preceded by q, /u/ otherwise
ư /ɨ/
y /i/ except as below
 /j/ after any vowel letter except u (= after â and a)
  1. qua is pronounced /kwa/ except in quay, where it is pronounced /kwă/. When not preceded by q, ua is pronounced /uə̯/.
  2. However, oong and ooc are pronounced /ɔŋ/ and /ɔk/.
  3. uông and uôc are pronounced /uə̯ŋ/ and /uə̯k/ when not preceded by a q.
  4. quô is pronounced /kwo/ except in quông and quôc, where it is pronounced /kwə̆w/. When not preceded by q, is pronounced /uə̯/.

The uses of the letters i and y to represent the phoneme /i/ can be categorized as "standard" (as used in textbooks published by Nhà Xuất bản Giáo dục) and "non-standard" as follows.

Standard spellings in Vietnamese
In one-lettered non-Sino-Vietnamese syllablesi (e.g.: i tờ, í ới, ì ạch, ỉ ôi, đi ị)
In one-lettered Sino-Vietnamese syllablesy (e.g.: y học, ý kiến, ỷ lại)
Syllable-initial, not followed by êi (e.g.: ỉa đái, im lặng, ích lợi, ỉu xìu)
Syllable-initial, followed by êy (e.g.: yếu ớt, yếm dãi, yết hầu)
After uy (e.g.: uy lực, huy hoàng, khuya khoắt, tuyển mộ, khuyết tật, khuỷu tay, huýt sáo, khuynh hướng)
After qu, not followed by ê, nhy (e.g.: quý giá, quấn quýt)i (e.g.: quí giá, quấn quít)
After qu, followed by ê, nhy (e.g.: quyên góp, xảo quyệt, mừng quýnh, hoa quỳnh)
After b, d, đ, r, xi (e.g.: bịa đặt, diêm dúa, địch thủ, rủ rỉ, triều đại, xinh xắn)
After g, not followed by a, ă, â, e, ê, o, ô, ơ, u, ưi (e.g.: cái gì?, giữ gìn)
After h, k, l, m, t, not followed by any letter, in non-Sino-Vietnamese syllablesi (e.g.: ti hí, kì cọ, lí nhí, mí mắt, tí xíu)
After h, k, l, m, t, not followed by any letter, in Sino-Vietnamese syllablesi (e.g.: hi vọng, kì thú, lí luận, mĩ thuật, giờ Tí)y (e.g.: hy vọng, kỳ thú, lý luận, mỹ thuật, giờ Tý)
After ch, gh, kh, nh, ph, thi (e.g.: chíp hôi, ghi nhớ, ý nghĩa, khiêu khích, nhí nhố, phiến đá, buồn thiu)
After n, s, v, not followed by any letter, in non-proper-noun syllablesi (e.g.: ni cô, si tình, vi khuẩn)
After n, s, v, not followed by any letter, in proper nouns i (e.g.: Ni, Thuỵ Sĩ, Vi)y (e.g.: Ny, Thụy Sỹ, Vy)
After h, k, l, m, n, s, t, v, followed by a letteri (e.g.: thương hiệu, kiên trì, bại liệt, ngôi miếu, nũng nịu, siêu đẳng, mẫn tiệp, được việc)
In Vietnamese personal names, after a consonantieither i or y, depending on personal preference

This "standard" set by Nhà Xuất bản Giáo dục is not definite. It is unknown why the literature books use while the history books use .


Vowel nuclei

The table below matches the vowels of Hanoi Vietnamese (written in the IPA) and their respective orthographic symbols used in the writing system.

Front Central Back
Centering /iə̯/iê/ia*/ɨə̯/ươ/ưa*/uə̯/uô/ua*
Close /i/i, y/ɨ/ư/u/u


  • The vowel /i/ is:
    • usually written i: /sǐˀ/ = (A suffix indicating profession, similar to the English suffix -er).
    • sometimes written y after h, k, l, m, n, s, t, v, x: /mǐˀ/ = Mỹ (America)
      • It is always written y when:
  1. preceded by an orthographic vowel: /xwīə̯n/ = khuyên 'to advise';
  2. at the beginning of a word derived from Chinese (written as i otherwise): /ʔīə̯w/ = yêu 'to love'.
  • The vowel /ɔ/ is written oo before c or ng (since o in that position represents /ăw/): /ʔɔ̌k/ = oóc 'organ (musical)'; /kǐŋ kɔ̄ŋ/ = kính coong. This generally only occurs in recent loanwords or when representing dialectal pronunciation.
  • Similarly, the vowel /o/ is written ôô before c or ng: /ʔōŋ/ = ôông (Nghệ An/Hà Tĩnh variant of ông/ʔə̆̄wŋ/). But unlike oo being frequently used in onomatopoeia, transcriptions from other languages and words "borrowed" from Nghệ An/Hà Tĩnh dialects (such as voọc ), ôô seems to be used solely to convey the feel of the Nghệ An/Hà Tĩnh accents. In transcriptions, ô is preferred (e.g. các-tông 'cardboard', ắc-coóc-đê-ông 'accordion').

Diphthongs and triphthongs

Rising VowelsRising-Falling VowelsFalling Vowels
nucleus (V)/w/ on-glides/w/ + V + off-glide/j/ off-glides/w/ off-glides
front e/wɛ/ oe/(q)ue*/wɛw/ oeo/(q)ueo*/ɛw/ eo
ê/we//ew/ êu
i/wi/ uy/wiw/ uyu/iw/ iu
ia/iê/yê*/wiə̯/ uyê/uya*/iə̯w/ iêu/yêu*
central a/wa/ oa/(q)ua*/waj/ oai/(q)uai, /waw/ oao/(q)uao*/aj/ ai/aw/ ao
ă/wă/ oă/(q)uă*/wăj/ oay/(q)uay*/ăj/ ay/ăw/ au
â/wə̆//wə̆j/ uây/ə̆j/ ây/ə̆w/ âu
ơ/wə//əj/ ơi/əw/ ơu
ư/ɨj/ ưi/ɨw/ ưu
ưa/ươ*/ɨə̯j/ ươi/ɨə̯w/ ươu
back o/ɔj/ oi
ô/oj/ ôi
u/uj/ ui
ua/uô*/uə̯j/ uôi


The glide /w/ is written:

  • u after /k/ (spelled q in this instance)
  • o in front of a, ă, or e except after q
  • o following a and e
  • u in all other cases; note that /ăw/ is written as au instead of *ău (cf. ao/aw/), and that /i/ is written as y after u

The off-glide /j/ is written as i except after â and ă, where it is written as y; note that /ăj/ is written as ay instead of *ăy (cf. ai/aj/) .

The diphthong /iə̯/ is written:

  • ia at the end of a syllable: /mǐə̯/ = mía 'sugar cane'
  • before a consonant or off-glide: /mǐə̯ŋ/ = miếng 'piece'; /sīə̯w/ = xiêu 'to slope, slant'
Note that the i of the diphthong changes to y after u:
  • ya: /xwīə̯/ = khuya 'late at night'
  • : /xwīə̯n/ = khuyên 'to advise'
changes to at the beginning of a syllable (ia does not change):
  • /īə̯n/ = yên 'calm'; /ǐə̯w/yếu' 'weak, feeble'

The diphthong /uə̯/ is written:

  • ua at the end of a syllable: /mūə̯/ = mua 'to buy'
  • before a consonant or off-glide: /mūə̯n/ = muôn 'ten thousand'; /sūə̯j/ = xuôi 'down'

The diphthong /ɨə̯/ is written:

  • ưa at the end of a syllable: /mɨ̄ə̯/ = mưa 'to rain'
  • ươ before a consonant or off-glide: /mɨ̄ə̯ŋ/ = mương 'irrigation canal'; /tɨ̌ə̯j/ = tưới 'to water, irrigate, sprinkle'

Tone marks

Vietnamese is a tonal language, i.e. the meaning of each word depends on the pitch (basically a specific tone and glottalization pattern) in which it is pronounced. There are six distinct tones (including no tone) in the standard northern dialect. In the south, there is a merging of the hỏi and ngã tones, in effect leaving five tones. The first one ("level tone") is not marked and the other five are indicated by diacritics applied to the vowel part of the syllable. The tone names are chosen such that the name of each tone is spoken in the tone it identifies.

DiacriticSymbolNameContourVowels with diacritic
unmarkedN/ANgang or Bằngmid level, ˧A/a, Ă/ă, Â/â, E/e, Ê/ê, I/i, O/o, Ô/ô, Ơ/ơ, U/u, Ư/ư, Y/y
grave accent àHuyềnlow falling, ˨˩À/à, Ằ/ằ, Ầ/ầ, È/è, Ề/ề, Ì/ì, Ò/ò, Ồ/ồ, Ờ/ờ, Ù/ù, Ừ/ừ, Ỳ/ỳ
hook above Hỏimid falling, ˧˩ (Northern); dipping, ˨˩˥ (Southern)Ả/ả, Ẳ/ẳ, Ẩ/ẩ, Ẻ/ẻ, Ể/ể, Ỉ/ỉ, Ỏ/ỏ, Ổ/ổ, Ở/ở, Ủ/ủ, Ử/ử, Ỷ/ỷ
tilde ãNgãglottalized rising, ˧˥ˀ (Northern); slightly lengthened Dấu Hỏi tone (Southern)Ã/ã, Ẵ/ẵ, Ẫ/ẫ, Ẽ/ẽ, Ễ/ễ, Ĩ/ĩ, Õ/õ, Ỗ/ỗ, Ỡ/ỡ, Ũ/ũ, Ữ/ữ, Ỹ/ỹ
acute accent áSắchigh rising, ˧˥Á/á, Ắ/ắ, Ấ/ấ, É/é, Ế/ế, Í/í, Ó/ó, Ố/ố, Ớ/ớ, Ú/ú, Ứ/ứ, Ý/ý
dot below Nặngglottalized falling, ˧˨ˀ (Northern); low rising, ˩˧ (Southern)Ạ/ạ, Ặ/ặ, Ậ/ậ, Ẹ/ẹ, Ệ/ệ, Ị/ị, Ọ/ọ, Ộ/ộ, Ợ/ợ, Ụ/ụ, Ự/ự, Ỵ/ỵ

In syllables where the vowel part consists of more than one vowel (such as diphthongs and triphthongs), the placement of the tone is still a matter of debate. Generally, there are two methodologies, an "old style" and a "new style". While the "old style" emphasizes aesthetics by placing the tone mark as close as possible to the center of the word (by placing the tone mark on the last vowel if an ending consonant part exists and on the next-to-last vowel if the ending consonant doesn't exist, as in hóa, hủy), the "new style" emphasizes linguistic principles and tries to apply the tone mark on the main vowel (as in hoá, huỷ). In both styles, when one vowel already has a quality diacritic on it, the tone mark must be applied to it as well, regardless of where it appears in the syllable (thus thuế is acceptable while thúê is not). In the case of the ươ diphthong, the mark is placed on the ơ. The u in qu is considered part of the consonant. Currently, the new style is usually used in textbooks published by Nhà Xuất bản Giáo dục, while most people still prefer the old style in casual uses. Among Overseas Vietnamese communities, the old style is predominant for all purposes.

In lexical ordering, differences in letters are treated as primary, differences in tone markings as secondary and differences in case as tertiary differences. (Letters include for instance A and Ă but not Ẳ. Older dictionaries also treated digraphs and trigraphs like CH and NGH as base letters. [9] ) Ordering according to primary and secondary differences proceeds syllable by syllable. According to this principle, a dictionary lists tuân thủ before tuần chay because the secondary difference in the first syllable takes precedence over the primary difference in the second syllable.


In the past, syllables in multisyllabic words were concatenated with hyphens, but this practice has died out and hyphenation is now reserved for word-borrowings from other languages. A written syllable consists of at most three parts, in the following order from left to right:

  1. An optional beginning consonant part
  2. A required vowel syllable nucleus and the tone mark, if needed, applied above or below it
  3. An ending consonant part, can only be one of the following: c, ch, m, n, ng, nh, p, t, or nothing. [10]


A page from Alexandre de Rhodes' 1651 dictionary L-2360-a 0008 1 t24-C-R0072.jpg
A page from Alexandre de Rhodes' 1651 dictionary

Since the beginning of Chinese rules in the 111 BC, literature, government papers, scholarly works and religious scripture were all written in classical Chinese ( chữ Hán ) while indigenous writing in chu han started around 9th century. [11] Since the 12th century, several Vietnamese words started to be written in chữ Nôm , using variant Chinese characters, each of them representing one word. The system was based on chữ Hán, but was also supplemented with Vietnamese-invented characters (chữ thuần nôm, proper Nôm characters) to represent native Vietnamese words.

Creation of chữ Quốc ngữ

As early as 1620 with the work of Francisco de Pina, Portuguese and Italian Jesuit missionaries in Vietnam began using Latin script to transcribe the Vietnamese language as an assistance for learning the language. [1] [3] The work was continued by the Avignonese Alexandre de Rhodes. Building on previous dictionaries by Gaspar do Amaral and Antonio Barbosa, Rhodes compiled the Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum , a VietnamesePortugueseLatin dictionary, which was later printed in Rome in 1651, using their spelling system. [1] [12] These efforts led eventually to the development of the present Vietnamese alphabet. For 200 years, chữ Quốc ngữ was used within the Catholic community. [13] [14]

Colonial period

In 1910, French colonial administration enforced chữ Quốc ngữ. [15] The Latin alphabet then became a means to publish Vietnamese popular literature, which were disparaged as vulgar by the Chinese-educated imperial elites. [16] Historian Pamela A. Pears asserted that by instituting the Latin alphabet in Vietnam, the French cut the Vietnamese from their traditional Hán Nôm literature. [17] Nowadays, although the Vietnamese majorly use chữ Quốc ngữ since the 1920s, and new Vietnamese terms for new items or words are often calqued from Hán Nôm. Some French had originally planned to replace Vietnamese with French, but this never was a serious project, given the small number of French settlers compared with the native population. The French had to reluctantly accept the use of chữ Quốc ngữ to write Vietnamese since this writing system, created by Portuguese missionaries, is based on Portuguese orthography, not French. [18]

Mass Education

Between 1907 and 1908 the short-lived Tonkin Free School promulgated chữ quốc ngữ and taught French language to the general population.

In 1917, the French system suppressed Vietnam's Confucian examination system, viewed as an aristocratic system linked with the "ancient regime", thereby forcing Vietnamese elites to educate their offspring in the French language education system. Emperor Khải Định declared the traditional writing system abolished in 1918. [16] While traditional nationalists favoured the Confucian examination system and the use of chữ Hán, Vietnamese revolutionaries, progressive nationalists as well as pro-French elites viewed the French education system as a means to "liberate" the Vietnamese from old Chinese domination and the unsatisfactory "outdated" Confucian examination system, to "democratize" education and to help link Vietnamese to European philosophies.

The French colonial system then set up another educational system, teaching Vietnamese as first language using chữ quốc ngữ in primary school and then French language (taught in chữ quốc ngữ). Hundreds of thosands of textbooks for primary education began to be published in chữ quốc ngữ, with the unintentional result of turning the script into the popular medium for the expression of Vietnamese culture. [19]

Late 20th century to present

Prior to 21st-century computer-assistance, the act of typesetting and printing Vietnamese has been described as a nightmare due to the number of accents/diacritics. [20] [21] [22] Contemporary Vietnamese texts sometimes included words which have not been adapted to modern Vietnamese orthography, especially for documents written in Chinese characters. The Vietnamese language itself has been likened to a system akin to "ruby characters" elsewhere in Asia. See Vietnamese language and computers for usage on phones, computer and on the internet.

Typing Vietnamese (computer support)

Different ways in which tone marks can be presented on letters that already have diacritic e.g. (`) on letter e when computerising Vietnamese. Ve.png
Different ways in which tone marks can be presented on letters that already have diacritic e.g. (`) on letter ê when computerising Vietnamese.

The universal character set Unicode has full support for the Latin Vietnamese writing system, although it does not have a separate segment for it. The required characters that other languages use are scattered throughout the Basic Latin, Latin-1 Supplement, Latin Extended-A and Latin Extended-B blocks; those that remain (such as the letters with more than one diacritic) are placed in the Latin Extended Additional block. An ASCII-based writing convention, Vietnamese Quoted Readable and several byte-based encodings including VSCII (TCVN), VNI, VISCII and Windows-1258 were widely used before Unicode became popular. Most new documents now exclusively use the Unicode format UTF-8.

Unicode allows the user to choose between precomposed characters and combining characters in inputting Vietnamese. Because in the past some fonts implemented combining characters in a nonstandard way (see Verdana font), most people use precomposed characters when composing Vietnamese-language documents (except on Windows where Windows-1258 used combining characters).

Most keyboards on phone and computer used by Vietnamese-language users do not support direct input of diacritics by default.[ citation needed ] Software may be built into the operating system or various free software such as Unikey on computer or Laban Key for phone that act as keyboard drivers exist. They support most input methods, such as Telex, VNI, VIQR and its variants.

See also


Further reading

Related Research Articles

A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. The word diacritic is primarily a noun, though it is sometimes used as an adjective, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritics, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ), are often called accents. Diacritics may appear above or below a letter or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

A macron is a diacritical mark: it is a straight bar (¯) placed above a letter, usually a vowel. Its name derives from Ancient Greek μακρόν (makrón) "long", since it was originally used to mark long or heavy syllables in Greco-Roman metrics. It now more often marks a long vowel. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the macron is used to indicate a mid-tone; the sign for a long vowel is instead a modified triangular colon ⟨ː⟩.

Vietnamese language Official language of Vietnam

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is by far the most spoken Austroasiatic language with over 70 million native speakers, at least seven times more than Khmer, the next most spoken Austroasiatic language. Its vocabulary has had significant influence from Chinese and French. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a second language or first language for other ethnic groups in Vietnam. As a result of emigration, Vietnamese speakers are also found in other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.

Y Letter of the Latin alphabet

Y, or y, is the twenty-fifth and penultimate letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet and the sixth vowel letter of the modern English alphabet. In the English writing system, it mostly represents a vowel and seldom a consonant, and in other orthographies it may represent a vowel or a consonant. Its name in English is wye, plural wyes.

The circumflex is a diacritic in the Latin and Greek scripts that is used in the written forms of many languages and in various romanization and transcription schemes. It received its English name from Latin: circumflexus "bent around"—a translation of the Greek: περισπωμένη. The circumflex in the Latin script is chevron-shaped, while the Greek circumflex may be displayed either like a tilde or like an inverted breve.

Á Letter of the Latin alphabet

Á, á (a-acute) is a letter of the Chinese (Pinyin), Blackfoot, Czech, Dutch, Faroese, Galician, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish, Kazakh, Lakota, Navajo, Occitan, Portuguese, Sámi, Slovak, Spanish, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Western Apache languages as a variant of the letter a. It is sometimes confused with à; e.g. "5 pommes á $1", which is more commonly written as "5 pommes à $1".

Digraph (orthography)

A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme, or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined.

History of writing in Vietnam

During ancient times, the ancestors of the Vietnamese were considered to have been Proto-Austroasiatic speaking people, possibly traced to the ancient Dong Son culture. Modern linguists describe Vietnamese as having lost some Proto-Austroasiatic phonological and morphological features that the original Vietnamese language had. This was noted in the linguistic separation of Vietnamese and Muong roughly one thousand years ago. From 111 BC up to the 20th century, Vietnamese literature was written in Traditional Chinese, using Chữ Hán and chữ Nôm.

The Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS) is the official system for rendering Thai words in the Latin alphabet. It was published by the Royal Institute of Thailand.

This article is a technical description of the sound system of the Vietnamese language, including phonetics and phonology. Two main varieties of Vietnamese, Hanoi and Saigon, which are slightly different to each other, are described below.

Muong is a group of dialects spoken by the Mường people of Vietnam. They are in the Austroasiatic language family and closely related to Vietnamese. According to Phan (2012), the Mường dialects are not a single language, or even most closely related to each other, but rather are an ethnically defined and paraphyletic taxon.

The diaeresis and the umlaut are two different homoglyphic diacritical marks. They both consist of two dots ( ¨ ) placed over a letter, usually a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï.

In written Latin, the apex is a mark with roughly the shape of an acute accent which is placed over vowels to indicate that they are long.

Greek orthography has used a variety of diacritics starting in the Hellenistic period. The more complex polytonic orthography, which includes five diacritics, notates Ancient Greek phonology. The simpler monotonic orthography, introduced in 1982, corresponds to Modern Greek phonology, and requires only two diacritics.

Daī-ghî tōng-iōng pīng-im is an orthography in the Latin alphabet for Taiwanese Hokkien based upon Tongyong Pinyin. It is able to use the Latin alphabet to indicate the proper variation of pitch with nine diacritic symbols.

Chữ Nôm Writing system for the Vietnamese language using Chinese characters

Chữ Nôm is a logographic writing system formerly used to write the Vietnamese language. It uses Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, with new characters created on the Chinese model to represent other words.

ISO 11940-2 is an ISO standard for a simplified transcription of the Thai language into Latin characters.

The Vietnamese language is written with a Latin script with diacritics which does require several accommodations when typing on phone or computers. Software-based systems are the most popular form of writing Vietnamese. Telex is the oldest input method devised to encode the Vietnamese language and is often set as the default on virtual keyboards on phones and touchscreen devices. Other input methods may also include VNI and VIQR, which suit physical personal desktop computers or laptops more.

Tai Viet script

The Tai Viet script is a Brahmic script used by the Tai Dam people and various other Tai peoples in Vietnam.


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  21. "Language Monthly, Issues 40–57" 1987, p. 20.
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