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Full name: Trn c Hon

Class: QH2012.E15
Date of birth: December 7th, 1994
Student number: 12040337

End-of-term Essay
English Linguistics 2


What are the distinct differences in terms of pronunciation

and words or structures regularly used between the main dialects in

Vietnam (namely the Northern, Central and Southern dialects).

Vietnam can be geographically divided into three main regions

namely Northern, Central and Southern Vietnam. This division, due
to many historical and geographical reasons, can also be applied
into culture, customs and even language. For the three regions of
Vietnam, Vietnamese has Northern, Central and Southern dialects
respectively. All being Vietnamese, yet those dialects have various
differences in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary.
In the first place, three main dialects of Vietnam greatly varies
in terms of pronunciation. The variation is so great that a native
speaker can recognize which part of the country one is from
immediately when he/she begins to speak. Officially, Vietnamese
has six tones namely Level tone (-), Rising tone (/), Falling tone (\),
Falling rising tone (?), High rising tone (~) and Low constricted tone
(.). However, only the Northern Vietnamese makes use of all the six
tones. Central Vietnamese and Southern Vietnamese, whereas,
merge the Falling rising tone and High rising tone or Falling rising
tone (?) and Low constricted tone (.) into one, making the languages
have five tones only. In some parts, people even use a four-tone
system. For example, ln (mixed) is pronounced as ln (hide) in
Central Vietnam. The differences also lie in the system of










pronounced /t/ in the North, meanwhile pronounced distinctively

/t/ and /t/ in the Central and the South. Similarly, s and x are
pronounced the same in Northern Vietnamese, and differently in the
other. For the case of r d and gi, people in the North tend to merge
the pronunciation of the three into /z/, the South merge two latter
ones and keep r distinct, and the Central pronounce the three
differently, which is closest to the alphabet. When it comes to
vowels, u and u are pronounce the same as iu and iu in the
North making lu (flow) sound exactly like liu and ru (alcohol)

sound like diu (magical). In addition, Southern Vietnamese does not

distinguish between

-in and inh, -it and ich, -un and ung and

between ut and uc. For more information, see Appendices I.

In order to have a clearer look at the difference, lets take [clip
1] which is an excerpt from VTVs News for example. It can be
noticed that of the two reporters, the man speaks Northern
Vietnamese and the women speaks Central Vietnamese. While the
women pronounced ch and tr very distinctively in the word chng
trnh, the man sounds somewhat the same at [030] . In addition,
the women tends to pronounce the Falling rising tone (?) and High
rising tone (~) like Low constricted tone (.), which can be seen from
her pronunciation of Nht Bn, nguyn t at [110] or cnh st bin
at [1230]. And in [clip 2], a news report by a Southern reporter,
the reporter did not make a clear distinction between chn and chnh
at [0030].
In the second place, the difference in vocabulary between the
three dialects is of paramount significance. Each dialect has its own
set of pronouns. While Northern Vietnamese uses ti (I), chng ti
(we), my (you singular), chng my (you plural), anh y (he),
ch y (she), ng y (he old or formal), b y (she old or formal),
n (it) as personal pronouns, Central Vietnamese has a different set
of tui, bn tui, mi, bn by, anh n, ch n, ng n, b n and hn,
Southern Vietnamese also has tui, ti tui, my, ti my, nh, ch,
ng, b and n as personal pronouns. Besides, series of nouns,
verbs and adjectives are different among the three dialects. Some
examples of these are hoa (flower in Northern and Central
Vietnamese) and bng (flower in Southern Vietnamese), ln (pig in
Northern Vietnamese) and heo (also pig in Southern Vietnamese) or
qu (fruit in Northern and Central dialects) and tri (Southern
dialect). For verbs there are o, r, ng, , trt, v, vo in

Northern Vietnamese corresponding with ch, r, b, , trt, v,

vo in Central Vietnamese and ch, quo, t, u, rt, chp, ngt in
Southern Vietnamese, to name but a few. It is also noteworthy that
for such words, Northern dialect and Southern dialect have
completely different vocabulary, whereas the Central tends to mix
between the two. This may be because of the geographical situation.
Another important difference in terms of vocabulary is that for
each region, there exist different sets of words that are tightly
associated with the regions characteristics, culture and history. For
instance, Southern Vietnamese has a set of water-related words that
contains qu giang (literally means cross the river, but can be
understood as hitch a ride), anh em cc cho (literally people in the
same boat, may mean brothers) and khm (literally very deep,
different meaning: abundant). There is another amazing fact in
vocabulary that even native Vietnamese may not notice. In
Vietnamese there exist combinations of two words with the same
meaning that may be used to stress, for example d bn (dirty), au
m (sick), li li (profit), bao bc (protect, cover) and mai mi
(matchmake). When separated, Northern Vietnamese use the
second words only, which are bn, m, li, bc and mi, whereas
Southern Vietnamese make use of the first ones. (Pham, 2011) On
the contrary, there are combinations that the North use the first
word, and the South use the second one that are thc la, gim p,
n rc, la gt, sc bn, lau chi, th hng, chn mn, chm tr,
tm kim, vng d, a gin, thu mn, mau l, hung d, tru
chc. (Pham, 2011)
Different as it may seem, the vocabulary of three dialects,
especially Northern and Southern one now has a tendency of
merging with each other. It can be seen from the importation of
words from the South to the North such as bt git, kem git

(instead of x phng bt, x phng kem), gch bng, bng tai (gch
hoa, hoa tai), my lnh (iu ha nhit ), tiu chy (a chy, a
lng), b bu (b cha), ch, cy (vng) (ng cn, lng (vng)),
quy (ph), nhu nht (n ung, bia ru), l x (mng tui), nc
tng (x du), nh thuc/ nh sch (ca hng thuc/ ca hng sch)
and so on. (Pham, 2011) These are signs of Vietnameses
development that narrow down the gap among the dialects.
Nevertheless, distinctions in terms of pronunciation and special
vocabulary will still remain, maintaining the diversity of Vietnamese.
Dialects are an essential part of every language. There is no
right or wrong dialect as each is closely related with certain region,
culture and group of people. Different dialects diversify one
language, also beautify it. It would become monotonous if, for
example, more than 90 million of Vietnamese spoke exactly the
same. In short, we have to protect the dialects to keep our identity.

Appendices I

Appendices II

List of reference
Lu, V.P. (2014, September 27). Re: How similar or different are the







Retrieved from

Phm, V.T. (2011, September). Ting Nam Ting Bc ang Xch Li
Gn Nhau. Bn tin s 247 i hc Quc gia H Ni. Retrieved
VTV (2012, September 14). Thi s VTV 19h ngy 14/09/2012 [Video



VTV (2014, August 5 ). Thi s 12h - 06/08/2014 [Video File].
Retrieved from
Wikipedia (n.d.) Phng ng hc Ting Vit. Retrieved from