Pronunciation  of Written Vietnamese, Part 2: Consonants

Pronunciation of Written Vietnamese, Part 2: Consonants

by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).

Click here for a full, up to date ORIGINAL ARTICLE and to help fighting the stealing of readers’ traffic

#Vietnamese, #pronunciation, #IPA pronunciation, #alphabet,

Pronunciation of Written Vietnamese in former RVN (based on Standard Vietnamese used in the South, 1954-1975).

Part of the fun of traveling is understanding the local culture. This blog helps you know about written Vietnamese and pronunciate it to communicate with Vietnamese.

1. Standard Vietnamese sounds.

The Standard Pronunciation of Vietnamese Language in Republic of Vietnam, 1956-1975 have been made based on the hearing of the pronunciation by readers on Radio and TV broadcast programs, the lyrics from songs produced during that period and from actual conversations with many many people I met from most parts of that country.

That language had been successfully used for communication in that country.

Here are the results of my transcription which may help future people find out the actual pronunciation of people in now defunct Republic of Vietnam (1956-1975, commonly known as South Vietnam) if they ever need to restore the language.

2. My phonetic tables of Vietnamese

Figure: Table of Vietnamese consonnants. Click to enlarge.

Figure: Table of Vietnamese vowels. Click to enlarge.

The tables are made to help Westerners pronounce written Vietnamese and also to help with future reconstruction of the actual Standard Pronunciation of people in now defunct Republic of Vietnam (1956-1975, commonly known as South Vietnam) if they ever need to restore that language.

The tables of pronunciations have been established using the methods used by IPA.

1/ The table here gives the Standard Pronunciation of the defunct RVN. That language is found to be still easy to read, nationally non-ambiguous writing, and communicable nationwide. The current spoken language inside Vietnam IS CLOSE TO BUT IS NOT THE SAME. The current spoken language inside Vietnam is described in the web pages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_language ,
https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_Qu%E1%BB%91c_ng%E1%BB%AF,

There will be CONFLICTING information on the pronunciations between those two websites and this website. It is UP TO THE USER TO SELECT THE METHOD OF LEARNING PRONUNCIATION most appropriate to him.

2/ The Phonetic Transcriptions can never be identical for different speakers even from the same village! Therefore phonetizers should be satisfied that his alphabetization is acceptable when reproduction from his alphabetization is easily recognized and readily accepted by all listeners.

3/ Here I tried to use best approximate familiar IPA symbols [18]. Otherwise there will be a proliferation of IPA symbols and that would defeat the main aim of alphabetization symbols !

4/ There are three columns in this table. The first column represents the Vietnamese single or double or triple consonants, the second the corresponding IPA notation for Standard Northern pronunciation, the third the corresponding IPA notation for acceptable Standard Southern pronunciation. Radio and television announcers and speakers and singers in the former RVN adhered to this standard and were understood and appreciated nationwide.

5/ The Vietnamese is given its IPA alphabetizations as in the table.

Notes for using the tables of Vietnamese consonants:

Consonant c

The Vietnamese c originates from the Portuguese c (https://www.practiceportuguese.com/learning-notes/pronunciation-guide-for-european-portuguese-consonants/,

https://studyspanish.com/pronunciation/listen-and-repeat/letter_c). Here is some documentation about the Spanish c; it should apply to Portuguese c:

The Spanish “c” has two separate sounds, hard and soft. When appearing in the combinations “ca”, “co” and “cu”, the hard Spanish “c” closely resembles the English “k” sound. The difference is that when pronouncing the hard Spanish “c” there is no puff of air, as there is with the English “k”. When appearing in the combinations “ce” and “ci”, the “c” is softer. Spaniards pronounce this like the “z”, while Latin Americans pronounce it like the “s”. (https://studyspanish.com/pronunciation/listen-and-repeat/letter_c, Note: Click the “Continue” button to proceed. Swipe right to go to the next word, swipe left to go to the previous word and tap to hear the word again. Or use the control buttons below).

Consonants c, k and q:

There are differences between Vietnamese c, k, and q.

Example 1:

Pronounce “con tôm” and “Kon-Tum” and feel the positions of the point of articulation and the glottal stop.

Pronounce “con cá, con cua” and “con két, con kiển” and feel the positions of the point of articulation and the glottal stop.

Pronounce “cá cơm” and “cá kèo” and feel the positions of the point of articulation and the glottal stop.

Pronounce “cua” and “qua” and feel the positions of the point of articulationand the glottal stop.

Pronounce “cuốc” and “quốc” and feel the positions of the point of articulation and the glottal stop.

Pronounce “két” and “quét” and feel the positions of the point of articulation, the glottal stop and the gliding dipthong “u” to “ét” .

Pronounce “ký” and “quý” and feel the positions of the point of articulation , the glottal stop and the gliding dipthong “u” to “ý”.

Pronounce “kế” and “quế” and feel the positions of the point of articulation, the glottal stop and the gliding dipthong “u” to “ế”.

Vietnamese c has no glottal stop. Vietnamese k has a medium glottal stop. Vietnamese q has an even more sudden glottal stop.

Consonant ch

I approximated the pronunciation for by Southerners by English “ch” as in “chat, church, chunk” in English.

English “ch” has the familiar ipa notation ipa /tʃ/, it has more aspiration than Southern Vietnamese “ch”. The actual pronunciation by Southerners is [j] preceded by a [t] . However there is no IPA phonetic symbol such as [tj with a ligation on top]. So I have to choose the closest familiar IPA phonetic symbol ipa /tʃ/ which is for “ch” in English “chat, church, chunk”. I do RECOMMEND foreigners to read Vietnamese as “ch” in “church” in English, such pronunciation is understood nationwide.

It is known among Vietnamese speakers that saying the word make the tongue flap from its initial position with its tip touching the back of the upper front gum to the final position with its tip resting on its lowest position behind the back of the rear of the lower front gum. On the other hand the tip of the tongue stay touching the back of the upper front gum when pronouncing “ch” in English.

Consonant d

The Vietnamese consonant d is pronounced by Southerners as IPA [j] while by Northerners as as [z] quickly changing to [j] (If an IPA notation is made for that way of pronunciation, it would be [zj with ligation on top]) or as [dz with ligation on top].

It is noted that there have been disputes on how to accurately represent some Vietnamese spoken words like one which have been commonly written as :

Some Northerners had successfully had their names registered in Vietnamese as “Dzu” rather than “Du” prior to 1975 (The laws of RVN required that people names must be Vietnamese words.). Their arguments were that Standard Vietnamese word phonetically would be read by some as IPA [ju] or as IPA [zj u] while their name should always be read as IPA [dz u].

“Đ/đ and D/d” in Vietnamese have uncommon pronunciations. They originated from old Portuguese alphabet. They also causes difficulty in printing/typing and pronunciation for foreigners. “Đ/đ” in Vietnamese has pronunciation of “d” in English and in French.”D/d” in Vietnamese has pronunciation of semi-vowel “y” in English “yes” and in French “Il y a”.

Note:
Written Vietnamese was Latinized by Poruguese in the 16th century. So we should expect some similarity between Vietnamese and Brazilian Portuguese which is close to Old Portuguese. D in old Portuguese (now still in use in Brazilian Portuguese) is pronounced more like Vietnamese D than Vietnamese Đ.

d = [ʤ] before i or a final unstressed e, [d] elsewhere. However in parts of Santa Catarina and Paraná and the north and north east of Brazil, d in the final -de is pronounced [d]. In those same regions (except Paraná) djis pronounced [di] or [dʲi].
https://omniglot.com/writing/portuguese.htm,

also in https://linguapedia.info/en/language/por.html

D in current (European) Portuguese is not that exceptional (https://www.practiceportuguese.com/learning-notes/pronunciation-guide-for-european-portuguese-consonants/).

Consonants x, s

“X/x and S/s” in Vietnamese have uncommon pronunciations compared to other Latinized notations. That causes difficulty in pronunciation for foreigners. “X/x” in Vietnamese has pronunciation of “s” in English and in French.”S/s” in Vietnamese has pronunciation of “sh” in English and “ch” in French.

Double consonants.

Vietnamese also has more consonnants than supplied by the Latin alphabet. Double consonants are used to denote additional consonants like

ng for IPA[ŋ] in Vietnamese “nga”
nh for IPA[ɲ] in Vietnamese “nha”,

ch, th, kh, etc…

There are also double consonants with one following the other like tr.

Consonant ph

ph such as in Vietnamese “phe” is pronounced IPA[p] followed by IPA[h]. So Vietnamese “phe” is pronounced as IPA/p/ followed by IPA/hɛ/. Vietnamese “phở” is pronounce as IPA/p/ followed by IPA/hə/.

ph can also be pronounced as IPA[ɸ] with a strong aspiration. Vietnamese has no consonant equivalent to IPA[f] in English. Vietnamese ph is pronounced with two lips closed together then aspiration, while English f, IPA[f], is pronounced with upper teeth resting on the lower lip then aspiration.

Notes for using the tables of Vietnamese vowels:

1/ The table here gives the Standard Pronunciation of the defunct RVN. That language is found to be still easy to read, nationally non-ambiguous writing, and communicable nationwide. The current spoken language inside Vietnam IS CLOSE TO BUT IS NOT THE SAME. The current spoken language inside Vietnam is described in the web pages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_language,
https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_Qu%E1%BB%91c_ng%E1%BB%AF,

There will be CONFLICTING information on the pronunciations between those two websites and this website. It is UP TO THE USER TO SELECT THE METHOD OF LEARNING PRONUNCIATION most appropriate to him.

2/ The Phonetic Transcriptions can never be identical for different speakers even from the same village! Therefore phonetizers should be satisfied that his alphabetization is acceptable when reproduction from his alphabetization is easily recognized and readily accepted by all listeners.

3/ Here I tried to use best approximate familiar IPA symbols. Otherwise there will be a proliferation of IPA symbols and that would defeat the main aim of alphabetization symbols !

4/ There are twelve principal Vietnamese vowels (sound which can be sustainably pronounced):
a, ă, â, e, ê, i, o, ô, ơ, u, ư, y
Vietnamese y is ALWAYS A VOWEL, it never takes the role of semi-vowel [j] unlike English “y” (in English “yes”) or French “y” (in “il y a”).

5/ They are grouped into six groups based on six Latin vowels a, e, i, o, u, y. The original phonetizers considered that (a, ă, â) are closely related and similarly for (e, ê), (o, ô), (u, ư).

6/ Vietnamese “y” differs from Vietnamese “i” : The pronunciation for Vietnamese y is similar to IPA [i] or IPA [i:] but made with the point of articulation closer to the throat than for [i:].
IPA [i] is pronounced with the tip of the tongue nearly touching the gap between the upper and lower front teeth while Vietnamese y is pronounced with the tip of the tongue lowered and withdrawn to behind the back of the lower front gum.

Example 1:
Pronounce Vietnamese “i” as in IPA [i] and Vietnamese “y” as in “y tá” and feel the positions of the tongue and the point of articulation.

Pronounce “ĩ” as in “bĩ cực” and “ỹ” as in “mỹ” and feel the positions of the tongue tongue and the point of articulation .

Pronounce “i” as in “mì hoành thánh” and “y” as in “mỹ” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “iến” as in “tiến” and “yến” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “iết” as in “tiết” and “yết” as in “yết hầu”, “yết kiêu” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “iếu” as in “hiếu” and “yếu” as in “yếu tố” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Example 2:

Pronounce “mái nhà” and “máy móc” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “cài đặt” and “cày bừa” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “thúi” and “thúy” and feel the positions of the tongue.

7/ Vietnamese <ô> is closer to IPA [õ] than IPA [o]. The IPA symbol for a nasal vowel is a tilde ~ over the corresponding oral vowel.
IPA [o] is like “eau” in French “beau” https://www.thoughtco.com/understanding-the-french-language-using-ipa-4080307

8/ Vietnamese <â> is closer to IPA [ʌ with a tilde] than IPA [ʌ]. The IPA symbol for a nasal vowel is a tilde ~ over the corresponding oral vowel.
IPA [ʌ] is like English “cut” https://www.antimoon.com/how/pronunc-soundsipa.htm

9/ Vietnamese <ư> is a vowel. <ư> is pronounced like IPA [ʊ] but with the point of articulation moved to the back. The speaker can first pronunciate IPA [ʊ] then move his point of articulation back to the throat to hear the sound of Vietnamese <ư>.

Altneraivetly, listen to IPA[u] and IPA[ʊ]. Now pronounce IPA[u]. Then leave the mouth and tongue in such positions and try to make the sound like for IPA[ʊ]. Whatever vowel is pronounced now is very close to the Vietnamese vowel <ư>.

10/- There are many more than five “Latin cardinal vowels” in Vietnamese. Diacritics supply some of those extra vowels by modifying the “vocalization point” (or “point of articulation”) of the “Latin cardinal vowels”. So there are more available vowels. The so obtained vowels are: ă, â, ê, ơ, ô, ư.

For example, the <ă> and <â> are vocalized as <a> with the “vocalization point” respectively “moved extremely to the back” or “moved to the front with closer lips”; the <ơ> and <ô> are vocalized as <o> with the “vocalization point” respectively “moved half way to the back” or “moved to the front with closer lips”. The principle also applies to vowels <ê>, <ư>.

11/-Vietnamese has many more vowels than Latin languages. So it must be written with many vowels of the ipa chart (https://www.ipachart.com/ ).

However this is NOT a practicable option in any writing system. It would have poor legibility, would require agmentation of characters from other alphabets and may not be easily read from afar. So the knowledgeable Portuguese transcribers of Vietnamese who invented Chữ Quốc Ngữ used some Western diacritics to denote the more common vowels

a, ă, â, e, ê, i, o, ơ, ô, u, ư

and used combined double vowels to denote less common vowels

ai (in mai), ao, au, âu, eo, ia, iu, ua, ưa.

These vowels are definitely NOT diphthongs as their pronunciation can be sustained to any arbitrary duration.

(Listen to the chants from hawkers in Saigon (1960):

“Ai ăn chè đậu xanh nước dừa đường tán không”.

The Vietnamese <ai> is loadest and sustained

….<ai>….. not repeating like a broken record of gliding ipa/ai/ as described by ipa/ai/… ipa/ai/…ipa/ai/… ipa/ai/ .

Listen to the Hát Bộ theatre chants from actors in Saigon (1960):

“Âu ta là Quang Vân Trường….”.

The Vietnamese <âu> is loadest and sustained

….<âu>….. not repeating like a broken record of gliding ipa/ou/ as described by ipa/ou/…ipa/ou/ …ipa/ou/…ipa/ou/.)

Besides them there are truely diphthongs (gliding vowels) which are also denoted by double vowels

ay (in cay), ây (in gây, cây), oa (in hoa, họa, hỏa, thoa, ), oe (in khoe), uơ (in thuở, a huờn), uô (in uống thuốc), ưu (in hưu), ươ (in nước), …

The pronunciation of these true diphthongs CANNOT be sustained to arbitrarily long durations.

On top of diphthongs there are also the distinctive Vietnamese triphthongs denoted by triple vowels:

yêu, iêu (in kiêu căng, hỏa thiêu, thiếu niên), uya (in khuya), uyê (in uyên ương, vườn thượng uyển, chuyên môn, chuyện trò, huyên náo, khuyên răng, khuyễn mã, dự khuyết, tuyển lựa, chim quyên ai trái nhãn lòng, quyến quít, quyển sách, quỷ quyệt), ươu (in ung bướu, cướu nước, nướu răng, rượu chè),…

References

[1]. Pronunciation of Written Vietnamese in former RVN

[2]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_language

[3]. https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_Qu%E1%BB%91c_ng%E1%BB%AF

[4]. https://www.internationalphoneticalphabet.org/ipa-sounds/ipa-chart-with-sounds/

[5]. https://www.ipachart.com/

[6]. https://www.antimoon.com/how/pronunc-soundsipa.htm

[7]. https://www.thoughtco.com/understanding-the-french-language-using-ipa-4080307

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Pronunciation  of Written Vietnamese in former RVN

Pronunciation of Written Vietnamese in former RVN

by tonytran2015 (Melbourne, Australia).

Click here for a full, up to date ORIGINAL ARTICLE and to help fighting the stealing of readers’ traffic

#Vietnamese, #pronunciation, #IPA pronunciation, #alphabet,

Pronunciation of Written Vietnamese in former RVN (based on Standard Vietnamese used in the South, 1954-1975).

Part of the fun of traveling is understanding the local culture. This blog helps you know about written Vietnamese and pronunciate it to communicate with Vietnamese.

1. Background on written Vietnamese before Latin Alphabetization

First we should have some background knowledge about some of the oldest well known systems of writing.

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Figure: Hieroglyphs from KV17, the tomb of Seti I, 13th century BC (The copyright holder of the work allows anyone to use it for any purpose including unrestricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification. Author Jon Bodsworth. Original file: http://File:Hieroglyphs_from_the_tomb_of_Seti_I.jpg)

The earliest system of Hieroglyphs of the Egyptian civilization has been found from KV17, the tomb of Seti I, 13th century BC, it has existed before 3200BC. The question is whether it had spread to ancient Vietnam directly or indirectly? Indirectly means some other civilizations may have adopted it, or imitated it and that art of adaptation/imitation may have spread to the land of current Vietnam or to the land of ancient Vietnam during the long time span from at least 3200 BC to 200 BC.

Brahmic scripts

Figure: A fragment of Ashoka’s 6th pillar edict, in Brahmi, the ancestor of all Brahmic scripts (This file is licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 1.0 License. Source: No machine-readable author provided. Vadakkan assumed (based on copyright claims). Original file: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asokan_brahmi_pillar_edict.jpg)

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmi_script there is a correspondence between North Semitic and Brahmi scripts.

Ancient writing (either orinating from Egyptian writing or independently from Indus_script of Indus_Valley (from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE )) had spread to Ancient India as Brahmi at least since 400 BC, to Bhutan, Nepal, (Brahmic_scripts), Japan (Yes, to Japan in East Asia), , , Tibet (Tibetan_script), South East Asian nations (Malayo-Polynesian_languages, Balinese_script).

Spreading of Brahmic scripts

Figure: Spread of Brahmic family of scripts from India. Figure from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmic_scripts,(This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Language_travel_from_India.png )

From the above map of the spread of Brahmic scripts, it is logical to expect that the Vietnamese civilization dated since 2000 BC could have got its own writing system comparable to its competing neighbours. It is quite unlikely that a place for trading and bronze technology like ancient Vietnam had no writing which is pivotal for its book keeping and its records of recipes for inventions .

Vietnamese culture has indeed existed more than 4000 years ago [7].

Many Vietnamese believe that Vietnam had its own phonetic writing system known as Khoa Dau (Khoa Đẩu) notation. Many centuries of occupation by Chinese ( at about 111 BC.) had erased most of the Khoa Dau writings predating Han Chinese occupation [8-14].

2. Writing of spoken Vietnamese language after Chinese Occupation

After the Occupation by Han China in 111 BC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_domination_of_Vietnam ), the use of Khoa Dau written language was banned by the occupier and Vietnamese had to use written Qin Chinese in official documents. The Vietnamese lost their ability to read their own Khoa Dau writing and had to invent Chữ Nôm as another way to write their own language.

Chữ Nôm is based on Chinese Qin writing (colloquially and unjustifiably(?) known as Han writing but it was previously standardized and made used across the whole Qin Empire by Emperor Qin Sih Huang Di). Chu Nom each has two parts, one for the meaning in Qin writing, another for the Qin character with closest pronunciation.

Illustrative example:
Chu Nom 𠀧  三 巴 (ba “three”) is composed of the pronunciation part 巴 (Sino-Vietnamese reading: ba) and the Chinese meaning part 三 “three”.

Its use is almost like writing a fictitious new word between angled brackets in the following line

<DOG, to be read as “ch-oooo-or” at higher pitch>

for an Englishman to read the sound of the Vietnamese word <chó> meaning Dog in English.

So it is evident that to read such fictitious written language, the person has to be well versed in English. That was also the difficulty with using Chữ Nôm: The person has to be well versed in Qin language.

During the Second period of Independence from Chinese occupatiob (lasting from Vietnamese King Lê Lợi, AD 1428, to present), Vietnamese Emperor Quang Trung Hoang De decreed that all official documents had to be written in Chữ Nôm. However this requires officials to know Qin language before they can write Chu Nom in official documents!

3. Latin Alphabetization of spoken Vietnamese.

Christianity spread to Vietnam in the 16 th century, with it there arose the need for phonetization of Vietnamese for teaching Christinity.

Alexander de Rhode continued with the alphabetization of Vietnamese using Latin alphabets by Portuguese Jesuits preacher Francisco de Pina (1585-1625, of Guarda of Portugal) and popularized its use. There is a street in Saigon named in honour of Alexander de Rhode.

The alphabetization was made in the 16 th Century but it is remarkably close to the current International Phonetic Alphabets of 2015.

4. Advantage of Latin Alphabetized Vietnamese

With such alphabetization (as adopted as the Official Language of Republic of Vietnam, 1956-1975) the Standard Spoken Language of RVN has been:

a- Easy to learn and read

It is common for learners to be able to pronounce Latin alphabetized Vietnamese
in three months.

In the years of 1970’s more than 90% of South Vietnamese can pronounce that language from written Standard Vietnamese of RVN and even Westerners can read Vietnamese at first exposure.

b- Nationally non-ambiguous writing for various locally ambiguous pronunciations:

The Christian preachers had traveled to every corner of the country to record all different pronunciations of words and incorporated them into their written alphabetized language so that the written language is fully differentiated for different written words meaning different things even when only speakers in some parts of the country can differentiate them verbally while speakers in other parts of the country cannot. The resulting written language is therefore fully differentiated for words meaning different things while individuals in the country may not be able to verbally differentiate them. Consequently everyone can unambiguously understand the written language even when he cannot verbally differentiate all different written words.

Example 1:

1. <Tro> meaning “ash”, and

2. <Cho> meaning “give, donate, or let”

are pronounced differently by Southern Vietnamese but pronounced indistinguishably by Northerners in remote areas. The written language is unambiguous and gives exact meaning despite some indistinguishably spoken words by some speakers.

The written sentence “Cho tôi mua một chay nước tro” gives unambiguos meaning nationwide while its pronunciation by Northern Vietnamese might give ambiguous meaning from “Cho tôi mua một chay nước cho”.

Example 2:
1. <Tranh> meaning “fight for”, and
2. <Chanh> meaning “lemon”
are pronounced differently by Southern Vietnamese but pronounced indistinguishably by Northerners from remote areas. The written language is unambiguous and gives exact meaning despite some indistinguishably spoken words by some speakers.

The written sentence “Hai người tranh nhau trái chanh” gives unambiguous meaning nationwide while its pronunciation by Northern Vietnamese might give ambiguous meaning from “Hai người chanh nhau trái chanh”.

Example 3:
1. <Cá rô> meaning “Perch fish, (Perca fluviatilis)”,
2. <rỗ> meaning “woven rattan basket”
3. <giãy> meaning thrash
4. <rột rẹt> the rolling, rasping sound
are well pronounced by most Vietnamese but unintelligibly pronounced by Western Southerners. The written language is unambiguous and gives exact meaning despite some indistinguishably spoken words by some speakers.

The written sentence “Bắt con cá rô bỏ vô rỗ nó giãy nghe rột rẹt” gives unambiguos meaning nationwide while its pronunciation by Western South Vietnamese might give unintelligible meaning from “Bắt con cá gô bỏ vô gỗ nó gãy nghe gột ghẹt” .

c- Communicable nationwide:

The reading may be more differentiating than that of local people but they do understand it and it is considered as own language by every area in the country.

5. Standard Vietnamese sounds.

The Standard Pronunciation of Vietnamese Language in Republic of Vietnam, 1956-1975 have been made based on the hearing of the pronunciation by readers on Radio and TV broadcast programs, the lyrics from songs produced during that period and from actual conversations with many many people I met from most parts of that country.

That language had been successfully used for communication in that country.

Here are the results of my transcription which may help future people find out the actual pronunciation of people in now defunct Republic of Vietnam (1956-1975, commonly known as South Vietnam) if they ever need to restore the language.

6. My phonetic tables of Vietnamese

Figure: Table of Vietnamese consonnants. Click to enlarge.

Figure: Table of Vietnamese vowels. Click to enlarge.

The tables are made to help Westerners pronounce written Vietnamese and also to help with future reconstruction of the actual Standard Pronunciation of people in now defunct Republic of Vietnam (1956-1975, commonly known as South Vietnam) if they ever need to restore that language.

The tables of pronunciations have been established using the methods used by IPA.

Notes for using the tables of Vietnamese consonants:

1/ The table here gives the Standard Pronunciation of the defunct RVN. That language is found to be still easy to read, nationally non-ambiguous writing, and communicable nationwide. The current spoken language inside Vietnam IS CLOSE TO BUT IS NOT THE SAME. The current spoken language inside Vietnam is described in the web pages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_language ,
https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_Qu%E1%BB%91c_ng%E1%BB%AF,

There will be CONFLICTING information on the pronunciations between those two websites and this website. It is UP TO THE USER TO SELECT THE METHOD OF LEARNING PRONUNCIATION most appropriate to him.

2/ The Phonetic Transcriptions can never be identical for different speakers even from the same village! Therefore phonetizers should be satisfied that his alphabetization is acceptable when reproduction from his alphabetization is easily recognized and readily accepted by all listeners.

3/ Here I tried to use best approximate familiar IPA symbols [18]. Otherwise there will be a proliferation of IPA symbols and that would defeat the main aim of alphabetization symbols !

4/ There are three columns in this table. The first column represents the Vietnamese single or double or triple consonants, the second the corresponding IPA notation for Standard Northern pronunciation, the third the corresponding IPA notation for acceptable Standard Southern pronunciation. Radio and television announcers and speakers and singers in the former RVN adhered to this standard and were understood and appreciated nationwide.

5/ The Vietnamese <ch> is given its IPA alphabetizations as in the table.
I approximated the pronunciation for <ch> by Southerners by English “ch” as in “chat, church, chunk” in English.
The actual pronunciation by Southerners is [j] preceded by a [t] . However there is no IPA phonetic symbol such as [tj with a ligation on top]. So I have to choose the closest familiar IPA phonetic symbol which is for as “ch” in “chat, church, chunk” in English.
I do RECOMMEND foreigners to read Vietnamese <ch> as “ch” in “church” in English, such pronunciation is understood nationwide.

It is known among Vietnamese speakers that saying the word <cho> make the tongue flap from its initial position with its tip touching the back of the upper front gum to the final position with its tip resting on its lowest position behind the back of the rear of the lower front gum. On the other hand the tip of the tongue stay touching the back of the upper front gum when pronouncing “ch” in English.

6/ There are differences between <c>, <k>, and <q> in Latin Alphabetization.
<c>, and <q> are at two ends of the variation with <k> being the middle.
Natives Vietnamese words beginning with <q> have only those beginning with <qu>. However words like Qatar, Qibla do appear in Vietnamese news.

Example 1:

Pronounce “con tôm” and “Kon-Tum” and feel the positions of the point of articulation.

Pronounce “con cá, con cua” and “con két, con kiển” and feel the positions of the point of articulation.

Pronounce “cá cơm” and “cá kèo” and feel the positions of the point of articulation.

Pronounce “cua” and “qua” and feel the positions of the point of articulation.

Pronounce “cuốc” and “quốc” and feel the positions of the point of articulation.

7/- The Vietnamese consonant <d> is pronounced by Southerners as IPA [j] while by Northerners as as [z] quickly changing to [j] (If an IPA notation is made for that way of pronunciation, it would be [zj with ligation on top]) or as [dz with ligation on top].
The Portuguese d is different from English or French d, it is pronounced as an IPA [d] quickly changing to IPA [j], it would be IPA [dj with ligation on top]. Probably for that reason the old Portuguese phonetizers had chosen their d to approximate Vietnamese <d>.

It is noted that there have been disputes on how to accurately represent some Vietnamese spoken words like one which have been commonly written as <du> :

Some Northerners had successfully had their names registered in Vietnamese as “Dzu” rather than “Du” prior to 1975 (The laws of RVN required that people names must be Vietnamese words.). Their arguments were that Standard Vietnamese word <du> phonetically would be read by some as IPA [ju] or as IPA [zj u] while their name should always be read as IPA [dz u].

Notes for using the tables of Vietnamese vowels:

1/ The table here gives the Standard Pronunciation of the defunct RVN. That language is found to be still easy to read, nationally non-ambiguous writing, and communicable nationwide. The current spoken language inside Vietnam IS CLOSE TO BUT IS NOT THE SAME. The current spoken language inside Vietnam is described in the web pages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_language,
https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_Qu%E1%BB%91c_ng%E1%BB%AF,

There will be CONFLICTING information on the pronunciations between those two websites and this website. It is UP TO THE USER TO SELECT THE METHOD OF LEARNING PRONUNCIATION most appropriate to him.

2/ The Phonetic Transcriptions can never be identical for different speakers even from the same village! Therefore phonetizers should be satisfied that his alphabetization is acceptable when reproduction from his alphabetization is easily recognized and readily accepted by all listeners.

3/ Here I tried to use best approximate familiar IPA symbols. Otherwise there will be a proliferation of IPA symbols and that would defeat the main aim of alphabetization symbols !

4/ There are twelve principal Vietnamese vowels (sound which can be sustainably pronounced):
a, ă, â, e, ê, i, o, ô, ơ, u, ư, y
Vietnamese <y> is ALWAYS A VOWEL, it never takes the role of semi-vowel [j] unlike English “y” (in English “yes”) or French “y” (in “il y a”).

5/ They are grouped into six groups based on six Latin vowels a, e, i, o, u, y. The original phonetizers considered that (a, ă, â) are closely related and similarly for (e, ê), (o, ô), (u, ư).

6/ <i> differs from <y>: The sound for Vietnamese <y> is similar to IPA[ɨ:] or nearly IPA [i:] (ɨ is used to represent a close central unrounded vowel (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_central_unrounded_vowel).)

but made with the point of articulation closer to the throat than for [i:].
IPA [i] is pronounced with the tip of the tongue nearly touching the gap between the upper and lower front teeth while Vietnamese <y> is pronounced with the tip of the tongue lowered and withdrawn to behind the back of the lower front gum.

Example 1:
Pronounce <i> as in IPA [i] and <y> as in “y tá” IPA[ɨ:] and feel the positions of the tongue and the point of articulation.

Pronounce “ĩ” as in “bĩ cực” and “ỹ” as in “mỹ” and feel the positions of the tongue tongue and the point of articulation .

Pronounce “i” as in “mì hoành thánh” and “y” as in “mỹ” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “iến” as in “tiến” and “yến” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “iết” as in “tiết” and “yết” as in “yết kiêu” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “iếu” as in “hiếu” and “yếu” as in “yếu tố” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Example 2:

Pronounce “mái nhà” and “máy móc” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “cài đặt” and “cày bừa” and feel the positions of the tongue.

Pronounce “thúi” and “thúy” and feel the positions of the tongue.

7/ Vietnamese <ô> is closer to IPA [õ] than IPA [o]. The IPA symbol for a nasal vowel is a tilde ~ over the corresponding oral vowel.
IPA [o] is like “eau” in French “beau” https://www.thoughtco.com/understanding-the-french-language-using-ipa-4080307

8/ Vietnamese <â> is closer to IPA [ʌ with a tilde] than IPA [ʌ]. The IPA symbol for a nasal vowel is a tilde ~ over the corresponding oral vowel.
IPA [ʌ] is like English “cut” https://www.antimoon.com/how/pronunc-soundsipa.htm

9/ Vietnamese <ư> is pronounced like IPA [U] but with the point of articulation moved to the back. The speaker can first pronunciate IPA [U] then move his point of articulation back to the throat to hear the sound of Vietnamese <ư>

10/- There are many more than five “Latin cardinal vowels” in Vietnamese. Diacritics supply some of those extra vowels by modifying the “vocalization point” (or “point of articulation”) of the “Latin cardinal vowels”. So there are more available vowels. The so obtained vowels are: ă, â, ê, ơ, ô, ư.

For example, the <ă> and <â> are vocalized as <a> with the “vocalization point” respectively “moved extremely to the back” or “moved to the front with closer lips”; the <ơ> and <ô> are vocalized as <o> with the “vocalization point” respectively “moved half way to the back” or “moved to the front with closer lips”. The principle also applies to vowels <ê>, <ư>.

 

References

[1].

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_hieroglyphs

[2[. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmic_scripts/

[3]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahmi_script

[4]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_script

[5]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malayo-Polynesian_languages

[5b]. Vikrant Kumar, Arimanda NS Reddy, […], and Battini M Reddy, Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1851701/

 

 

[6]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balinese_script

[7]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoabinhian

[8]. https://chuvietcolacviet.vn/gocbaochi/detail/chu-viet-co-chu-cua-nen-van-minh-ruc-ro-ky-4-62.html

[9]. https://taobabe.wordpress.com/tag/ancient-language/

[10]. http://chuvietcolacviet.vn/gocbaochi/detail/giai-ma-chu-viet-co-127.html

[11] https://www.sachhiem.net/VANHOC/TVHAC/Vanhac09.php

[12]. http://chuvietcolacviet.vn/nghiencuu/detail/hanh-trinh-di-tim-chu-khoa-dau-phan-1-307.html

[13]. https://kienthuc.net.vn/di-san/su-ton-tai-cua-nen-van-minh-khoa-dau-266446.html

 

Chữ cổ trên trống đồng trưng bày ở đền Hùng.

[13b]. http://www.baovinhlong.com.vn/van-hoa-giai-tri/201604/tim-hieu-ve-chu-viet-cua-dan-toc-viet-nam-qua-cac-thoi-dai-2679683/index.htm

Old writing on prehistoric Vietnamese bronze drum at Giám Tử Học (Huế).

[13c]. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dong_Son_drum

[13d]. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba_(state)

they used Ba-style bronze drums (錞于, similar to Đông Sơn drums), topped with the figure of a tiger, to communicate in battle…. they made beautiful bronze dings … sometimes with writing on them.[12]…

The Ba-Shu culture developed writing systems whose symbols appear to be unrelated to Chinese characters. Three Ba–Shu scripts have been found on bronzeware, none of which have been deciphered.

[13e]. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ba%E2%80%93Shu_scripts

Some scholars believe this script to be phonetic, pointing to similarities between some of the symbols and symbols of the later Yi script.[7][8]

[13f]. https://m.baophapluat.vn/huyen-su-ve-nguon-goc-vua-thuc-phan-an-duong-vuong-post334511.html

Đến thế kỷ XV, khi biên soạn Đại việt sử ký toàn thư – Ngô Sĩ Liên dựa vào sách Lĩnh Nam chích quái (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C4%A9nh_Nam_ch%C3%ADch_qu%C3%A1i) chép về An Dương Vương rõ hơn và tách thành một kỷ gọi là “Kỷ nhà Thục”, ông viết rằng: “An Dương Vương họ Thục, tên huý là Phán, người Ba Thục, ở ngôi 50 năm, đóng đô ở Phong Khê (nay là thành Cổ Loa). Giáp Thìn, năm thứ nhất (257 -TCN), Vua đã đánh chiếm nước Văn Lang, đổi quốc hiệu làm Âu Lạc.

Notes: Lĩnh Nam Chích Quái was written from scratch after Minh colonialism burnt all Vietnamese books.

[14]. http://chuaxaloi.vn/tin-tuc/van-de-chu-khoa-dau/921.html

[15]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_N%C3%B4m
[15bl.
https://www.quora.com/Why-did-China-burn-Vietnamese-books-when-the-Ming-dynasty-annexed-Vietnam?q=ming%20burning%20viet

Le Hoang Anh
To make Vietnamese people forget their roots…
This policy was strictly enforced by Yongle emperor…

Do people know that China tried to make Vietnam a province during the Ming dynasty and burned all of Vietnam’s books?

Andrew Dang
The Official Historical Records of Dai Viet (Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu – 大越史記全書) described the killing methods of Ming troops…
Thanks to the works of Vietnamese and French scholars of École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO, or Viện Viễn Đông Bác Cổ) during 1930s, the previous book named “越嶠書” (Việt Kiệu Thư) written by the author Li Wenfeng (李文鳳) was finally discovered and brought to the light
…an official decree from Ming Emperor Yongle announced that:
“…兵 入 。除 釋 道 經 板 經 文 不 燬 。外 一 切 書 板 文 字 以 至 俚 俗 童 蒙 所 習 。如 上 大 人 丘 乙 已 之 類 。片 紙 隻 字 悉 皆 燬 之 。其 境 內 中 國 所 立 碑 刻 則 存 之 。 但 是 安 南 所 立 者 悉 壞 之 。 一 字 不 存…”
English translation:
“Whenever your army enter Annam, except Buddhist and Taoist text, all written and printed materials of Annam must be burnt. The stelae erected by China during the previous time have to be protected carefully. On the contrary, those stelae erected by Annamese must be completely annihilated, not a single character left”.


[16]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_language

[17]. https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%E1%BB%AF_Qu%E1%BB%91c_ng%E1%BB%AF

[18]. https://www.internationalphoneticalphabet.org/ipa-sounds/ipa-chart-with-sounds/

[19]. https://www.antimoon.com/how/pronunc-soundsipa.htm

[20]. https://www.thoughtco.com/understanding-the-french-language-using-ipa-4080307

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