Vietnam

Talk

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. Like Thai and Mandarin, Vietnamese is a tonal language that uses a change in pitch to inflict different meanings, and this can make it difficult for Westerners to master. While it is very different from Western languages, a traveler may be surprised to learn that the basic grammar is pretty simple. Verbs are static regardless of the past or future and parts of speech are pretty straightforward. The major difficulties lay on tones and certain sounds.

Most Vietnamese youths learn English in school, so many young people have a basic grasp of English, but proficiency is generally poor. However, most hotel and airline staff will know enough English to communicate. Directional signs are generally bilingual in both Vietnamese and English.

Despite Indochina’s colonial history in which French was the medium of education, French is basically a nonfunctional language in Vietnam and aside from a few educated elite among the elderly, is much less useful than English when trying to communicate with locals. However in recent years, there has been a revival of the language in both the government and educated elite. In the big cities, some of the big international luxury hotel chains will have staff who are able to speak other foreign languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, Korean or French.

(source: Wikitravel)

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