Language, its origins, intricacies, its beauty and its potential, has always been a huge part of what we do at Ariel Media. And, when we say language, we refer to all the languages we work with. This post originally appeared on our Facebook page back when the social media platform was more content-friendly.
Did you know that over 60 percent of words in modern Vietnamese come directly from Chinese? The lands that today form Vietnam were a Chinese province for almost a thousand years, from the 2nd through 10th centuries A.D., and although Vietnamese maintained their own evolving cultural identity, the Chinese influence is evident. Similarly to the evolution of Spanish, the Vietnamese took these loan words, and made them uniquely theirs, adapting them, “Vietnamizing” them. This was somewhat easy since both languages are tonal, and have a similar number of syllabic tones. Some unchanged Chinese words have survived due to later trade contacts between Vietnam and China, and the existence of a very important ethnic Chinese minority in Vietnam (the người Hoa). However, grammatical rules dictate that unaltered Chinese words and Vietnamese words should not be used in the same sentence.
You may wonder why Vietnamese is not currently written in modified (or unmodified for official purposes) Chinese characters. During the French occupation of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, all official documents had to be written in the modified Latin. This system known as quốc ngữ was created by a French Jesuit missionary in the early 17th century. After a while, almost all documents, including literary works, were written using this script.
Chúng tôi tự hào nói tiếng Việt!