Vietnamese 101

As a result of a thousand years of Chinese domination, much of Vietnamese vocabulary relating to science and politics are derived from Chinese. As much as 70% of the vocabulary have Chinese roots, although many compound words are Sino-Vietnamese, composed of native Vietnamese words combined with the Chinese borrowings. Recently Sino-Vietnamese terms have fallen out of favor and replaced by more native Vietnamese terms. Reduplication is a regular part of the language that usually denotes intensity. One can usually distinguish between a native Vietnamese word and a Chinese borrowing if it can be reduplicated or its meaning doesn't change when the tone is shifted. As a result of French colonization, Vietnamese also has many loanwords borrowed from the French language. In many cases, these loanwords are limited to the more urbanized areas, such as Ho Chi Minh City. Recently many words are borrowed from English, for example TV (pronounced tivi), phông for font. Sometimes these borrowings are literally translated into Vietnamese (phần mềm for software, lit. soft part).

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