Are you interested in Vietnamese Language.

i wonder that what do you think about vietnamese language, and the sound from local people while they're talking? are you interested ? and thank for sharing!

Vietnamese does not win points for being the most pleasant sounding language in the world, though I reckon it beats Dutch. All the same, when you hear a well-spoken Vietnamese reciting lines from "The Tale of Kieu" (Truyện Kiều), it is very beautiful to the ear.  Surprisingly so, given that many Vietnamese accents do their best to destroy the language rather than speak it.

Guide books tell you that there are only two accents in Vietnam, the northern accent and the southern accent. This is not so. Like in Britain, every village has a different accent and, as in London, large cities in Vietnam can different accents within the city.   For example, one day while chatting with a young fellow in Nha Trang, I asked, "Where do you come from."  He answered, "Nha Trang."   "But you don't have a downtown accent."   "Oh, no. I come from from three kilometres out of town."   THREE kilometres.

Apart from the possibility of both vowels and consonants being pronounced differently all over Vietnam, the tones also change their tonal quality, so that the six tones of standard Vietnamese (Hanoi accent) can be reduced to as few as two tones (mid level and low rising) in parts of the south. Of course, there are local words to learn as well. It makes for interesting visits to any new area. 

Because so many residents in Nha Trang now come from all over Vietnam, I had to learn to comprehend the many accents of people I met on a daily basis:  the Nha Trang locals; my landlord from Danang; the local policeman from Binh Dinh; our neighbours from Nam Dinh; relatives from Danang, Saigon, Hanoi; and relatives and friends from other parts of Khanh Hoa Province outside Nha Trang.

Should you be wondering, I have spoken Vietnamese for 45 years and and a fluent speaker, reader and writer.

I have met Ralph and he can converse with the locals even when they are speaking at a million miles an hour.

Hi Ralphnhatrang

thanks for your information! ^^

If anyone has any furhter questions about the Vietnamese language, ask me and I'll try and answer it.

If anyone has any further questions about the Vietnamese language, ask me and I'll try and answer them.

Hi Ralphnhatrang,
What would you suggest is the best way to learn the Vietnamese language for someone not living or staying in Vietnam?
I'm from the Netherlands and I have a Vietnamese girlfriend (from the south) and I would like to learn Vietnamese to be able to talk with her family.


Thank you for your question. For a beginner, I suggest this free site with 20 lessons: … cKG060wGzf

The attractive presenter speaks with a clear Saigon/southern accent and presents these very useful lessons in manageble bits.  Not all her grammar explanations are perfect for purists such as myself, but quite ok for beginners.  After these lessons, I suggest you look for a class in you area, and if there is none, try an online school. I won't recommend any [for fear of offending the Thought Police] but there are free lesson sites available online if you search.

As when learning any foreign language, if you want to improve, you must practise speaking and practise listening.  Try speaking with and listening to your girlfriend every day on skype or facebook (or other app).  Google Translate is very helpful when writing, but to date does tend to scramble the meaning. Still, it is useful.

Keep a list of words which you and your girlfriend commonly use with each other and this will slowly build into your own personal dictionary. Remember it takes only: 300 words to have a basic conversation; only 1000 words to communicate 80% of what you need day to day; and 3000 to 5000 words to read a newspaper. Aim to learn and use 300 everyday words to start. Learning just ten words a day for a month will give you a basic vocabulary. Don't try and learn long word lists, but rather just learn the words you really use. Use them and re-use them constantly to help you remember them.

Once you have 300 words, then try and expand your vocabulary. Online bilingual newspapers can help you with that.   Try reading:

(continued) Try reading:
English -
Viet -

English -
Viet -

Curse yer cotton socks!!

..where were you when I needed to know this?

(yet another Jealous teacher)      :mad:

Blast your eyes!    But congratulations for the best practical directives here.

..anywhere else I can think of too...      :unsure


Thank you very much for your suggestions and information, much appreciated!

ralphnhatrang :

The attractive presenter speaks with a clear Saigon/southern accent ...

Yes, before I moved to Saigon I also discovered EverydayViet, very helpful. I learned numbers that way (I practiced while driving by reading aloud license plate numbers during the commute).  Unfortunately she gave up Youtube.

When I arrived in Saigon, I attended a Viet language school for 2 months. Difficult for me, intensive. The hardest is there are many sounds that don't exist in American, plus glottal stops, D sounds like Y, NG sounds like M, tones, etc, etc.  I thought I was speaking correctly, but people couldn't understand me. Still don't! It takes a while to tune your ear and your throat.

For that reason, my suggestion for someone still in their home country is to find local Vietnamese who can give you pronunciation lessons. Skyping on the internet is fair, but in person you can watch how to form your mouth, and hear more clearly. Also, if you know ahead of time which area of VN you will be living (north, middle, south), it is best to practice with someone from there. Some sounds differ significantly. especially for a poor confused beginner!

Gobot wrote, "Some sounds [in Vietnamese] differ significantly."  This is correct. In fact, one young woman from Hanoi wrote on another forum that when she came south for the first time, she and southerners had such trouble understanding each other in Vietnamese that she switched to English to get her message through ! 

Similarly, during the war an Australian army interpreter working with the Australian Consulate in Saigon found it impossible to understand the Vietnamese of a speaker from Hue, so timidly asked, "Do you speak French?"  The Hue speaker did, so the interpreting session proceeded in French. When I hear Hue people speaking on the street in their local dialect/accent, I can't understand a single sentence. They switched to fairly standard Vietnamese when speaking with me.

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