Languages Spoken In Vietnam

A sign at the Hỏa Lò Prison museum in Hanoi lists rules for visitors in both Vietnamese and English
A sign at the Hỏa Lò Prison museum in Hanoi lists rules for visitors in both Vietnamese and English

The Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam is the Indochina Peninsula’s easternmost country. The country is inhabited by about 90.5 million inhabitants and is the 8th most populous country in Asia. The country is bordered by Cambodia, China, Laos, and Malaysia. Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam.

Vietnam was ruled by Imperial China for over a millennium till AD 939 after which an independent Vietnamese state took form following the Vietnamese win in the Battle of Bạch Đằng River. Soon, Vietnamese dynasties flourished in the nation and it expanded rapidly. However, in the mid-19th century, Vietnam came under the control of the French Empire. In 1954, the French were expelled from the country after years of war for independence. After the French had left, Vietnam was divided into the rival states of North and South Vietnam. After North Vietnam won the Vietnam War in 1975, the country was unified under communist rule. The languages of Vietnam have been influenced over the years by the immigrants, ruling kingdoms, colonial powers, and governments of Vietnam.

Official Languages Of Vietnam

Vietnamese is the both the national and the official language of Vietnam. The majority of the population of the country speak this language. Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that has its origin in northern Vietnam. Originally, Vietnamese was written using a modified set of Chinese characters but later the natives of Vietnam developed their own script which was known as Chữ nôm. The language is not only spoken in Vietnam but also in other parts of the world where the Vietnamese population has emigrated.

Minority Languages Of Vietnam

Tày: Tày is Vietnam’s major Tai language that is spoken in the northeast of Vietnam near the Vietnam-China border.


The Mường people of Vietnam speak a group of dialects known as Muong. This language belongs to the family of Austroasiatic languages. Mường is also closely related to the Vietnamese language. People of the mountainous regions of Vietnam’s northern provinces speak this language. This minority language of Vietnam is written using a modified Vietnamese alphabet.


The Cham people, a minority group in Vietnam, speak the Cham language, a language belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian family. This language was formerly the language of the Kingdom of Champa located in central Vietnam. About 79,000 Vietnamese speak the Cham language of Vietnam.


The Khmer minority of Vietnam speak the Khmer language in Vietnam. The language is the second most popularly spoken Austronesian language after the Vietnamese. The Khmer language has been significantly influenced by the Sanskrit and Pali languages which were introduced with Buddhism and Hinduism in Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia. Lao, Cham, and Vietnamese have influenced the more colloquial registers of Khmer and have been, in turn, influenced by the language. The Khmer language is also the earliest written and recorded language of the Mon–Khmer family.


The Chinese language is spoken in Vietnam by the Chinese minority group in the country.


The Tai–Kadai language of Nùng is spoken in the Lạng Sơn and the Cao Bằng provinces of Vietnam.


Hmong is a dialect spoken by the Hmong people of Vietnam.

Foreign Languages Of Vietnam

French: French is the most spoken foreign language in Vietnam. A legacy of the colonial rule, French is spoken by a significant section of the Vietnamese as a second language. Vietnam is a full member of the Francophonie, and French at one time served as the principal language of the country.

Russian, Czech, German, and Polish are also spoken by small sections of the Vietnamese population. With greater contacts of the Vietnamese with the Western world, English has also attained popularity in the country.


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