Vietnamese (Vietnamese: tiếng Việt) is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is by far the most spoken Austroasiatic language with over 90 million native speakers, at least seven times more than Khmer, the next most spoken Austroasiatic language.
Its vocabulary has had significant influence from Chinese and French. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a second language or first language for other ethnic groups in Vietnam. As a result of emigration, Vietnamese speakers are also found in other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.
Like many other languages in Southeast Asia and East Asia, Vietnamese is an analytic language with phonemic tone. It has head-initial directionality, with subject–verb–object order and modifiers following the words they modify. It also uses noun classifiers.
Vietnamese was historically written using Chữ Nôm, a logographic script using Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, together with many locally-invented characters to represent other words.
French colonial rule of Vietnam led to the official adoption of the Vietnamese alphabet (Chữ Quốc ngữ) which is based on Latin script. It uses digraphs and diacritics to mark tones and some phonemes. Chữ Nôm fell out of use in Vietnam by the early 20th century.
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