Vietnamese 101

Vietnamese (tiếng Việt, or less commonly Việt ngữ), formerly known under the French colonization as Annamite (see Annam) is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of the Vietnamese people (người Việt or người Kinh), who constitute between 88% and 90% of Vietnam's population and of about three million overseas Vietnamese, including more than a million individuals of Vietnamese heritage in the United States. It is also spoken as a second language by some ethnic minorities of Vietnam. It is part of the Austroasiatic language family, of which it has the most speakers by a significant margin (three to four times the number of speakers of Khmer, the second most spoken Austroasiatic language). However, it contains much vocabulary borrowed from Chinese and was originally written using the Chinese writing system. The predominant Vietnamese writing system in use today is an adapted version of the Latin alphabet, though the Chu Nom system, based on Chinese characters, was also formerly employed.

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