When Vietnam was under the French rule, Vietnamese was referred to as Annamese. Over eighty five percent of the population speaks Vietnamese as their mother tongue. Vietnamese was declared the official language during the 20th century. This was after the country was free of the French. Modern day Vietnamese has influences from the French and the Chinese. Both countries had political domination over them at one point or another. Vietnamese has six different tones that are hard to master.
When you visit the country most locals ask if you are from America. If you are an American you can respond by saying ‘Nguoi My’. The term is used to refer to a person from the United States of America. United States is locally known as ‘Nuoc My’ this translates to ‘county beautiful’. Coincidentally, the Chinese also refer to America as the beautiful country. The British as known as ‘Nguoi Anh’, the French ‘Nguoi Phap’ and the Japanese are ‘Nguoi Nhat’. In case you are addressing a younger sibling you can use the term ‘Em’ for both sexes. Always remember to use this term when talking to people younger than you. Children can also be referred to as ‘con’.
‘Thank you’ is one of the words that a person learns when taking a basic language course. In Vietnamese ‘thank you’ is ‘Cam on’ which is pronounced as ‘gum un’. Learners have an easy time learning how to say hello and goodbye since they share the same expression. In Vietnamese you say ‘chao’ to greet someone or bid them farewell. Some of the letters that are seldom used include f, j, w and z. Since the language is based on Portuguese its spelling is mostly phonetic. In order to learn how to speak in Vietnamese you need to know how to pronounce its letters and the right tone. Compared to English there are few exceptions here and there. You need to know which pronunciation to use since Southern Vietnamese (Saigon) does not sound the same as Hanoi (from the Northern region), Vinh (from North Central) and Hue (Central region Vietnamese).