Vietnamese. A monosyllabic language made up of twenty-nine letters and six tonal accent marks. One would think that this language would be rather simple to learn and even simpler to understand, but like all other languages, Vietnamese can be difficult even for native speakers. The complexity of it lies in the proper syntax of words, the combination of phrases and even the correct use of a single term to present the most accurate meaning.
The Vietnamese language is thousands of years old, while the current Quoc Ngu writing system is centuries old. The preservation of this language has been incredible, but the Vietnamese we speak today is not the same as the Vietnamese of 1000 years ago, or even 100 years ago. The language is constantly altered within Vietnam. Anyone who travels to Vietnam will notice the small differences in dialects from the southern to northern regions and everywhere in between. When you add migration and immigration to the equation, it is inevitable that the language will take on a different appearance.
The differences between dialects can be as small as the term for spoon. Just consider all your Vietnamese acquaintances. The way they talk will give a small window into the dialects of Vietnamese that they have been exposed to or grown up with. Retention of language is a rather difficult task regardless of location or ethnicity. Even in the regions of a language’s origins, retention is a perpetually arduous task. A language in use will continuously be altered, recreated and reformulated with the coming and goings of generations. How the language is used plays a large part in how the language is retained. In a sense, the original language is being lost, but at the same time our language is evolving. How do you perceive the situation?
Correction: A previous edition of this post stated that the Vietnamese language is over 150 years old. More accurately, the Vietnamese language itself is millenniums old and the writing system is centuries old.