The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, which has three mutually intelligible dialects: Northern, Central and Southern. The dialects often vary in tone and pronunciation. Vietnamese vowels have six distinctive tones, five of which are indicated by a diacritic placed over or under the vowel to show different ways of pronunciation, and the unaccented vowel remains unchanged in the voice.
The changes in tones
The changes in tones also create the changes in meaning. For example, the word “ma” without tone has the meaning of “ghost”; “ma” pronounced with a raising tone means “mother”; “ma” with its falling tone means “that”; “ma” with its questioning tone means “tomb”; “ma” with its falling then raising tone means “horse”, and “ma” with its weighing tone means “a new rice plant”. Other languages spoken in Vietnam include English, Chinese, French, and numerous languages of Vietnamese ethnic minority groups in mountainous areas.
Vietnam Verbal Communication
In verbal communication, Vietnamese people highly value formality, respect and interpersonal harmony. It is said that respect is the cornerstone of interpersonal relationships in Vietnamese society. To avoid signs of disrespect, especially with people of higher status, Vietnamese probably don’t express their disagreement. Instead, they often keep silent or reply indirectly. In seeking to prevent conflict in relationships, Vietnamese often prefer to speak about sensitive subjects, such as politics and sex indirectly. Besides, Vietnamese people always use Mr. or Ms or a title plus the first name when greeting others to address people formally and respectfully. Although Vietnamese may nod and use the word “yes” or “ya” to express respect and indicate that they are listening attentively, this does not necessarily show their understanding and agreement.