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Vietnamese alphabet pronunciation, spelling words out loud

06.03.08 | admin | In orthography, Vietnamese, French

Knowing the Vietnamese alphabet isn’t just for fun. There will be times when you will be trying to communicate with somebody and have to spell out a word or have them spell it out for you without writing it down. Luckily, learning the Vietnamese alphabet isn’t difficult if you already know the English alphabet and especially easy if you know the French alphabet.

The Vietnamese alphabet is based on the French alphabet. According to Omniglot:

“During the 17th century, Roman Catholic missionaries introduced a Latin-based orthography for Vietnamese, Quốc Ngữ (national language),which has been used ever since. Until the early 20th century, Quốc Ngữ was used in parallel with Chữ-nôm. Today only Quốc Ngữ is used.”

pho56.com

As you can see a lot of it makes sense and corresponds with the French alphabet and its pronunciation but there are a few letters to be careful of. First, there are the three variations of the letter a: a, ă, â pronounced like ah, ah! (rising tone), u! (rising tone ớ). Secondly, there are two i’s, i “i ngắn” (short) and y “i dài” (long), also “i-cờ-rét” based on French “i grec”. Thirdly, the Vietnamese pronunciation of the letter h is neither English nor quite French. They pronounce it “hát” so the Vietnamese spelling of ch will sound like “say hat”. One last thing to be careful of in both of the Vietnamese and French alphabet’s are the letters g and j which in English are pronounced like “jee” and “jay” but are the opposite in Vietnamese and French. However, note that in the southern Vietnamese dialect they start with a y sound instead of the z sound. This also holds for the letters d and v which are both pronounced y in the South.

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