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(self-designation, Viet), the nationality of the overwhelming majority of the population in the coastal and lowland regions of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and South Vietnam. The population totals approximately 34.5 million (1969 estimate), of whom about 500,000 live outside of Vietnam, chiefly in Cambodia but also in Thailand and Laos. They speak the Vietnamese language. Buddhism, the religion of most Vietnamese believers, is closely interwoven with Taoism, Confucianist religious concepts, and ancestor worship. A significant role is also played by Catholicism and by the teachings of a number of local sects, primarily the Cao Dai, a combination of local beliefs and elements of Christianity.
Ancient Vietnamese tribes that had been part of the Viet (Yueh) tribal group came into North Vietnam from southern China in the first millennium B.C. By the first few centuries A.D. the Vietnamese tribes had already begun to fuse into a single nationality. While advancing southward from the 11th to the 15th centuries the Vietnamese assimilated part of the population in the ancient kingdom of Champa. After a long period of development the Vietnamese people finally formed a nation in the early 20th century. As a result of the struggle for national liberation the Vietnamese and other peoples within the country were freed from colonial oppression in 1945.
The chief occupations of the Vietnamese are irrigation farming, including such crops as rice, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton, tea, and sesame, and fishing. Part of the population is employed in industry and water transport. Among well-developed artistic handicrafts are polychrome lacquered painting, ceramics, brass embossing, and the carving of bone, turtle shell, and horn. Rice, vegetables, and fish products constitute the basic diet. The national costume, especially women’s dress consisting of wide trousers and a robe with high lateral slits, has been steadfastly preserved. There is much variety in the folk music, dance, and drama, and the popularity of patriotic subjects has for a long time been typical of Vietnamese art.
REFERENCENarody lugo-Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow, 1966. (Bibliography.)
S. A. ARUTIUNOV
a language of the Vietnamese people living in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. Speakers of Vietnamese number approximately 34.5 million (1969 estimate). The question of the Vietnamese language’s genetic affiliations is still unresolved, although.there is no doubt that it is related to Muong. Two hypotheses have gained currency; advocates of the first believe that Vietnamese is related to the Austro-Asiatic family of languages (the German scholars E. Kuhn and K. Wulff, the Austrian W. Schmidt, the Frenchmen Przyhiski and G. Haudricourt, and the Americans P. K. Benedict and A. Conrady), and advocates of the second say it is in the Sino-Tibetan language family (the French scholar H. Maspero and others). Modern Vietnamese has three dialects.
The modern Vietnamese literary language is based on two dialects—northern and central. The written form of the literary language uses the sound system of the central dialect and the tonal system of the northern dialect. The pronunciation of Hanoi is considered to be the standard spoken language in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and that of Saigon in South Vietnam.
Five periods are recognized in the historical development of the Vietnamese language: (1) the ancient Vietnamese period (from ancient times until 110 B.C., that is, before the first Chinese conquest); (2) the Chinese dominion (from 111 B.C. until the achievement of national independence in the tenth century), when the Chinese and Vietnamese languages coexisted with each other; (3) the Middle Vietnamese period (eighth to 15th centuries), which was associated with the creation of the first national writing system, based on Chinese characters (chu nom); (4) Late (Modern) Vietnamese period (15th to 18th centuries), distinguished by the flowering of the national literature and the creation of a writing system based on the Roman alphabet (chu quoc ngu); and (5) the period of the formation of the common national literary language, which began in the early 19th century.
The modern Vietnamese literary language has 11 vowel and 22 consonant phonemes, semi vocalic diphthongs and triphthongs, and a sound system that features six syllabic tones. A mutual correlation obtains in Vietnamese between phonetic and morphological units (syllables and morphemes) such that a syllable generally coincides with a morpheme. Approximately 60 percent of the Vietnamese vocabulary consists of borrowings from Chinese.
Grammatical derivation in Vietnamese is agglutinative (especially the aspectual-temporal forms of the verb). Typologically, however, Vietnamese is an isolating language. The lexical-grammatical word classes (parts of speech) are distinguished in respect to syntactic relationships between words and the morphological structure of the word. Syntactic relations in Vietnamese are expressed by a more or less strict word order, auxiliary words, and intonation.
REFERENCESV’etnamskii iazyk. Moscow, 1960.
Mkhitarian, T. T. Fonetika v’etnamskogo iazyka. Moscow, 1959.
Nguyen Kim Than. Nghien cuu v’e Ngu phap tieng Viet, vols. 1-2. Hanoi, 1963-64.
T. T. MKHITARIAN
While normal Vietnamese has not used Han characters since the 18th century, the standards TCVN 5773 and TCVN 6056 contain Han characters and may be used by computers and academics.