Vietnamese 101

As the national language of the majority ethnic group, Vietnamese is spoken throughout Vietnam by the Vietnamese people as well as by ethnic minorities. It is also spoken in overseas Vietnamese communities, most notably in the United States, where it has more than one million speakers and is the seventh most-spoken language.

According to the Ethnologue, Vietnamese is also spoken in Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Laos, Martinique, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Senegal, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.

Official Status

While spoken for millennia, Vietnamese did not officially become the literatural official language of Vietnam until the 20th century. For most of its history, the entity now known as Vietnam used Chinese for administration. Vietnamese in the form of chữ nôm was used for administrative purposes during the brief Tay Son Dynasty. During French colonialism, French superseded Chinese in administration. It wasn't until independence from France that Vietnamese was used officially. It is the language of instruction in schools and universities and is the language for official businesses.

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