Wiktionary:About Vietnamese

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Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is the native language of the Kinh ethnicity, as well as a first or second language for the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam.


Modern Vietnamese is descended from the various dialects of Middle Vietnamese, documented in Alexandre de Rhodes' Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum, which mainly focuses on Northern Vietnamese. According to Wikipedia, modern Vietnamese is the language as it was spoken from the 19th century to the present. Other early materials of Vietnamese, including Phật thuyết đại báo phụ mẫu ân trọng kinh (佛說大報父母恩重經) and Quốc âm Thi tập (國音詩集), are also in the Northern dialects, as evident in the consistent presence of diphthongs in words that show the conservative monophthongs in the modern Central dialects, as well as usage of the non-Central demonstratives and vocabulary items.

Many Vietnamese words are loaned from Chinese, either with the orthodox Sino-Vietnamese pronunciations (for which use the template {{vi-etym-sino}}) or with non-Sino-Vietnamese pronunciations (for which use {{vi-etym-sino|chinese etymon|hv/nat/preMC=n}}).


The template {{vi-pron}} or {{vi-IPA}} automatically adds several regional pronunciations in IPA.

Parts of speech[edit]

Vietnamese is very flexible with parts of speech (PoS). In order to avoid the tedious duplication/triplication/… of information, words should only be listed with their most basic PoS. So Việt Nam would only be listed as a proper noun (meaning "Vietnam") and not as an adjective (meaning "Vietnamese", which is nothing but the attributive use of the noun sense).


Nouns can be added with the template {{vi-noun}}, classifiers can be added with {{vi-noun|cls=classifier}}.

Combinations of classifier + noun should not receive separate entries, and neither should words transparently nominalized with particles like sự.[1] This means we should not have entries at cái bút, con mèo, trái táo, sự giải quyết, etc. but instead at bút, mèo, táo, giải quyết, etc. Exceptions are when such combinations are idiomatic and have a meaning different from what one would naively expect, such as with Trái Đất, đàn nguyệt, sự việc etc.


Many linguistic descriptions of Vietnamese do not distinguish adjectives from verbs, such that the word đẹp for example is analysed as a stative verb meaning "to be beautiful". Here at Wiktionary we follow the tradition of many dictionaries and analyse these stative verbs as adjectives instead. This means đẹp is an adjective meaning "beautiful". Only non-stative verbs should go under the ===Verb=== header.


The lemma form of Vietnamese words in Wiktionary is the "modern" spelling: always writing i instead of y in monophthongs ( instead of mỹ) and putting the tone accent on the second vowel in oa, uy, oe (khoẻ instead of khỏe). Other spellings should be added as "alternative spelling of", for which the template {{vi-alternative spelling of}} exists. General consensus is that spellings need not be attested, as long as some spelling of the same word is. For consistency, Wiktionary presents some words in a prescriptive manner, for example:

These spelling reforms have not been widely adopted by Overseas Vietnamese communities and are not universal within Vietnam. When writing for these audiences, you can set your Vietnamese input method to automatically convert to the traditional tone mark placement.

Proper names are not included in the spelling reform, such that the "traditional" spelling can be the main lemma.

As Nôm script (chữ Nôm) was (with decreasing frequency) used until well into the 19th century, Nôm spellings can be added with {{vi-noun|nôm character}} etc.

Chinese vs. Vietnamese[edit]

Note that many works written by Vietnamese people (especially older ones) were actually in Chinese. These works are nowadays often transcribed into quốc ngữ, reflecting the Vietnamese pronunciation; this does not change the fact that the language is still Chinese. Quotes from these works and word meanings derived from them should therefore not be added under the Vietnamese-language header.

To clarify, the following is Chinese:

  • 1077, “Nam quốc sơn hà”:
    Nam quốc sơn hà nam đế cư.
    Among the mountains and rivers of the South, the Southern emperor dwells.

The following is actual (Archaic) Vietnamese:

  • 13th century, Trần Nhân Tông, Cư trần lạc đạo phú, "Đệ cửu hội":
    Trà Triệu lão, bánh Thiều Dương, bầy thiền tử hãy còn đói khát.
    Old man Triệu's tea, Thiều Dương cakes, the novices remain hungry and thirsty.


  1. ^ See the discussion at Talk:sự hy sinh.

External links[edit]