Vietnamese phonology

Vietnamese phonology

This article is a technical description the sound system of the Vietnamese language, including phonetics and phonology.


Two main varieties of Vietnamese, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are described below.


The 21 consonants of the Hanoi variety:


* When stops IPA|/p, t, k/ occur at the end of words, they are unreleased and with accompanying glottal closure IPA| [ʔp̚, ʔt̚, ʔk̚] :



The HCMC Vietnamese variety is essentially the same as the Hanoi with the following exceptions:

* is generally not present in HCMC. When it is pronounced, it is often a spelling pronunciation in which case it always occurs palatalized with a IPA| [j] following it: IPA| [vʲj] . In addition to this IPA| [vj] , there is IPA| [bj, βj] that is present among other speakers. These pronunciations are remnants of a merger and sound change involving IPA|/v, z/ in southern speech (IPA|/v/ is generally still present in the northern and central regions).
* Hanoi IPA|/z/ is not present in HCMC.
* HCMC IPA|/l/ is generally slightly more palatalized than the Hanoi variety: IPA| [lʲ] .
* In southern speech, the phoneme IPA|/r/ has a number of variant pronunciations that depend on the speaker. More than one pronunciation may even be found within a single speaker. It may occur as a retroflex fricative IPA| [ʐ] , a postalveolar fricative IPA| [ʒ] , a flap IPA| [ɾ] , a trill IPA| [r] , or a fricative flap/trill IPA| [ɾ̝, r̝] . This sound is generally represented in Vietnamese linguistics by the symbol < r >.
* Among the coronals:
** IPA|/tʰ/ is dental: IPA| [t̪ʰ] .
** IPA|/t, ɗ, s, n, l/ are alveolar: IPA| [t͇, ɗ͇, s͇, n͇, l͇] .
** IPA|/t, tʰ, ɗ, s, n/ are apical: IPA| [t̺, t̺ʰ, ɗ̺, s̺, n̺] .
** IPA|/l, c, ɲ/ are laminal: IPA| [l̻ʲ, c̻, ɲ̻] .
* Unlike Hanoi, the glide IPA|/w/ in HCMC when at the beginning of a syllable is not preceded by a glottal stop.

Regional consonant variation

At the beginning of syllables, Hanoi IPA|/v, z/ appear as HCMC IPA|/j/. HCMC IPA|/r/ appears as Hanoi IPA|/z/, HCMC IPA|/c, ʈʂ/ appear as Hanoi IPA|/c/, and HCMC IPA|/s, ʂ/ appear as Hanoi IPA|/s/. The table below summarizes these sound correspondences:


* All vowels are unrounded except for the three back rounded vowels: IPA|/u, o, ɔ/.
* and IPA|/a/ are pronounced short — shorter than the other vowels.
** IPA|/a/ vs. /aː/: Short IPA|/a/ (orthographic "ă") and long IPA|/aː/ (orthographic "a") are different phonemic vowels, differing in length only (and not quality). (The IPA| [ː] symbol indicates a long vowel.)
** IPA|/ɜ/ vs. /əː/: Harvcoltxt|Han|1966 suggests that short IPA|/ɜ/ and long IPA|/əː/ differ in both height and length, but that the difference in length is probably the primary distinction. Harvcoltxt|Thompson|1965 seems to suggest that the distinction is due to height (as he does for all Vietnamese vowels), although he also notes the length difference.
* is close central unrounded and backed and lowered: IPA| [ɨ̞̠] . Many descriptions, such as Thompson, [Harvcoltxt|Thompson|1959 and Harvcoltxt|Thompson|1965] Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1970, Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997, consider this vowel to be close back unrounded: IPA| [ɯ] . However, Han's [Harvcoltxt|Han|1966] instrumental analysis indicates that it is more central than back. Harvcoltxt|Brunelle|2003 and Harvcoltxt|Pham|2003 also transcribe this vowel as central.
* The high and upper-mid vowels IPA|/i, ɨ, u, e, əː, o/ have phonetic offglides: IPA| [ɪj, ɨɰ, ʊw, ej, əːɰ, ow] , particularly in open syllables:


Ngang tone:

*The "ngang" tone is level at around the mid level (33) and is produced with modal voice phonation (i.e. with "normal" phonation). Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) describes this as "level"; Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 describes it as "high (or mid) level".

Huyền tone:

*The "huyền" tone starts low-mid and falls (21). Some Hanoi speakers start at a somewhat higher point (31). It is sometimes accompanied by breathy voice (or lax) phonation in some speakers, but this is lacking in other speakers: "bà" = IPA| [ʔɓɐ̤ː˨˩] or IPA| [ʔɓaː˨˩] . [For example, Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|Edmondson|1998 show a male speaker from Nam Định with lax voice and a female speaker from Hanoi with breathy voice for the "huyền" tone while another male speaker from Hanoi has modal voice for the "huyền".] Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) describes this as "grave-lowering"; Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 describes it as "low falling".

Hỏi tone:

* The "hỏi" tone starts a mid level and falls. It starts with modal voice phonation, which moves increasingly toward tense voice with accompanying harsh voice (although the harsh voice seems to vary according to speaker). In Hanoi, the tone is mid falling (31). In other northern speakers, the tone is mid falling and then rises back to the mid level (313 or 323). This characteristic gives this tone its traditional description as "dipping". However, the falling-rising contour is most obvious in citation forms or when syllable-final; in other positions and when in fast speech, the rising contour is negligible. The "hỏi" also is relatively short compared with the other tones, but not as short as the "nặng" tone. Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) describes this as "smooth-rising"; Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 describes it as "dipping-rising".

Ngã tone:

* The "ngã" tone is mid rising (35). Many speakers begin the vowel with modal voice, followed by strong creaky voice starting toward the middle of the vowel, which is then lessening as the end of the syllable is approached. Some speakers with more dramatic glottalization have a glottal stop closure in the middle of the vowel (i.e. as IPA| [VʔV] ). In Hanoi Vietnamese, the tone starts at a higher pitch (45) than other northern speakers. Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) describes this as "chesty-raised"; Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 describes it as "creaking-rising".

Sắc tone:

*The "sắc" tone starts as mid and then rises (35) in much the same way as the "ngã" tone. It is accompanied by tense voice phonation throughout the duration of the vowel. In some Hanoi speakers, the "ngã" tone is noticeably higher than the "sắc" tone, for example: "sắc" = IPA|˧˦ (34); "ngã" = IPA|˦ˀ˥ (45). Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) describes this as "acute-angry"; Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 describes it as "high (or mid) rising".

Nặng tone:

* The "nặng" tone starts mid or low-mid and rapidly falls in pitch (32 or 21). It starts with tense voice that becomes increasing tense until the vowel ends in a glottal stop closure. This tone is noticeably shorter than the other tones. Alexandre de Rhodes (1651) describes this as "chesty-heavy"; Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 describes it as "constricted".

outhern varieties

North-central and Central varieties

North-central and Central Vietnamese varieties are fairly similar with respect to tone although within the North-central dialect region there is considerable internal variation.

Eight-tone analysis

* See Harvcoltxt|Pham|2003

yllables and phonotactics

According to Harvcoltxt|Hannas|1997, "Quốc Ngữ" can represent 6,200 syllables (tones included), but only about 4,500 to 4,800 are used depending on dialect ("Quốc Ngữ" is designed to accommodate different dialects). [Harvcoltxt|Hannas|1997|p=88]

The Vietnamese syllable structure follows the scheme:

:: (C1)(w)V(C2)+T


Harvcoltxt|Thompson|1965 says that the vowels IPA| [ʌ] (orthographic â) and IPA| [ɐ] (orthographic ă) are shorter than all of the other vowels, which is shown here with the length mark IPA| [ː] added to the other vowels. His vowels above are only the basic vowel phonemes. Thompson gives a very detailed description of each vowel's various allophonic realizations.

Harvcoltxt|Han|1966 uses acoustic analysis, including spectrograms and format measuring & plotting, to describe the vowels. She states that the primary difference between orthographic "ơ" & "â" and "a" & "ă" is a difference of length (a ratio of 2:1). "ơ" = IPA|/ɜː/, "â" = IPA|/ɜ/; "a" = IPA|/ɐː/, "ă" = IPA|/ɐ/. Her format plots also seem show that IPA|/ɜː/ may be slightly higher than IPA|/ɜ/ in some contexts (but this would be secondary to the main difference of length).

Another thing to mention about Han's studies is that she uses a rather small number of participants and, additionally, although her participants are native speakers of the Hanoi variety, they all have lived outside of Hanoi for a significant period of their lives (i.e. in France or Ho Chi Minh City).

Harvcoltxt|Nguyễn|1997 has a simpler, more symmetrical description. He says that his work is not a "complete grammar" but rather a "descriptive introduction." So, his chart above is more a phonological vowel chart rather than a phonetic one.

ee also

*Vietnamese alphabet
*Vietnamese language
*List of phonetics topics



* citation
chapter= [ Coarticulation effects in northern Vietnamese tones] .
title=Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences

* citation
first=Thiện Thuật
title=Ngữ âm tiếng Việt
place=Hà Nội
publisher=Đại học và Trung học Chuyên nghiệp

* Đoàn, Thiện Thuật; Nguyễn, Khánh Hà, Phạm, Như Quỳnh. (2003). "A Concise Vietnamese Grammar (For Non-Native Speakers)". Hà Nội: Thế Giới Publishers, 2001.
* Earle, M. A. (1975). "An acoustic study of northern Vietnamese tones". Santa Barbara: Speech Communications Research Laboratory, Inc.
* Ferlus, Michel. (1997). Problemes de la formation du systeme vocalique du vietnamien. "Asie Orientale", "26" (1), .
* Gregerson, Kenneth J. (1969). A study of Middle Vietnamese phonology. "Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Indochinoises", "44", 135-193. (Published version of the author's MA thesis, University of Washington). (Reprinted 1981, Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics).
* citation
title=Vietnamese vowels
series=Studies in the phonology of Asian languages
place=Los Angeles: Acoustic Phonetics Research Laboratory
publisher=University of Southern California

* Han, Mieko S. (1968). "Complex syllable nuclei in Vietnamese". Studies in the phonology of Asian languages (Vol. 6); U.S. Office of Naval Research. Los Angeles: University of Southern California.
* Han, Mieko S. (1969). "Vietnamese tones". Studies in the phonology of Asian languages (Vol. 8). Los Angeles: Acoustic Phonetics Research Laboratory, University of Southern California.
* Han, Mieko S.; & Kim, Kong-On. (1972). "Intertonal influences in two-syllable utterances of Vietnamese". Studies in the phonology of Asian languages (Vol. 10). Los Angeles: Acoustic Phonetics Research Laboratory, University of Southern California.
* Han, Mieko S.; & Kim, Kong-On. (1974). Phonetic variation of Vietnamese tones in disyllabic utterances. "Journal of Phonetics", "2", 223-232.
title= [ Asia's Orthographic Dilemma]
publisher=University of Hawaii Press

* Haudricourt, André-Georges. (1949). Origine des particularités de l'alphabet vietnamien. "Dân Việt-Nam", "3", 61-68.
* Haudricourt, André-Georges. (1954). De l'origine des tons en vietnamien. "Journal Asiatique", "142" (1).
* Haupers, Ralph. (1969). A note on Vietnamese kh and ph. "Mon-Khmer Studies", "3", 76.
* Hoàng, Thị Châu. (1989). "Tiếng Việt trên các miền đất nước: Phương ngữ học". Hà Nội: Khoa học xã hội.
* Michaud, Alexis. (2004). "Final consonants and glottalization: New perspectives from Hanoi Vietnamese". Phonetica 61(2-3) (2004) pp. 119-146. [ Preprint version]
* citation
title=Vietnamese pronunciation
series=PALI language texts: Southeast Asia.
publisher=University of Hawaii Press

* Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1955). "Quốc-ngữ: The modern writing system in Vietnam". Washington, D. C.
* Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1959). "Hòa's Vietnamese-English dictionary". Saigon. (Revised as Nguyễn 1966 & 1995).
* Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1966). "Vietnamese-English dictionary". Rutland, VT: C.E. Tuttle Co. (Revised version of Nguyễn 1959).
* Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1992). Vietnamese phonology and graphemic borrowings from Chinese: The Book of 3,000 Characters revisited. "Mon-Khmer Studies", "20", 163-182.
* Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1995). "NTC's Vietnamese-English dictionary" (rev. ed.). Lincolnwood, IL.: NTC Pub. Group. (Revised & expanded version of Nguyễn 1966).
* Nguyễn, Đình-Hoà. (1996). Vietnamese. In P. T. Daniels, & W. Bright (Eds.), "The world's writing systems", (pp. 691-699). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0.
* citation
title=Vietnamese: Tiếng Việt không son phấn
publisher=John Benjamins Publishing Company

* citation
first=Văn Lợi
first2=Jerold A
title=Tones and voice quality in modern northern Vietnamese: Instrumental case studies
journal=Mon-Khmer Studies

* Pham, Hoa. (2001). A phonetic study of Vietnamese tones: Reconsideration of the register flip-flop rule in reduplication. In C. Féry, A. D. Green, & R. van de Vijver (Eds.), "Proceedings of HILP5" (pp. 140-158). Linguistics in Potsdam (No. 12). Potsdam: Universität Potsdam (5th conference of the Holland Institute of Linguistics-Phonology. ISBN 3-935024-27-4.
* citation
title=Saigon phonemics

* citation
title=The history of Vietnamese final palatals

* citation
title=A Vietnamese reference grammar
publisher=University of Washington Press.
ISBN 0-8248-1117-8

* Thurgood, Graham. (2002). Vietnamese and tonogenesis: Revising the model and the analysis. "Diachronica", "19" (2), 333-363.

External links

* [ Ngữ âm học]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vietnamese language — Vietnamese Tiếng Việt Pronunciation [tiə̌ŋ viə̀ˀt] (Northern) [tiə̌n jiə̀k] (Southern) Spoken in …   Wikipedia

  • Vietnamese syntax — Vietnamese, like many languages in Southeast Asia, is an analytic (or isolating) language. [Comparison note: As such its grammar relies on word order and sentence structure rather than morphology (in which word changes through inflection).… …   Wikipedia

  • Vietnamese morphology — Vietnamese, like many languages in Southeast Asia, is an analytic (or isolating) language. Vietnamese lacks morphological marking of case, gender, number, and tense (and, as a result, has no finite/nonfinite distinction). [Comparison note: As… …   Wikipedia

  • Vietnamese alphabet — The Vietnamese alphabet, called Chữ Quốc Ngữ (script of the national language), usually shortened to Quốc Ngữ (national language), is the modern writing system for the Vietnamese language. It is based on the Latin script (more specifically the… …   Wikipedia

  • Vietnamese people — người Việt Top: Triệu Thị Trinh • Nam Phương • …   Wikipedia

  • Historical Chinese phonology — deals with reconstructing the sounds of Chinese from the past. As Chinese is written with logographic characters, not alphabetic or syllabary, the methods employed in Historical Chinese phonology differ considerably from those employed in, for… …   Wikipedia

  • Old Chinese phonology — The phonology of Old Chinese describes the language reflected by the rhymes of the Shijing and the phonetic components of Chinese characters, corresponding to the earlier half of the 1st millennium BC. Scholars have attempted to reconstruct the… …   Wikipedia

  • English phonology — See also: Phonological history of English English phonology is the study of the sound system (phonology) of the English language. Like many languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect. In… …   Wikipedia

  • Navajo phonology — is the study of how speech sounds pattern and interact with each other in that language. The phonology of Navajo is intimately connected to its morphology. For example, the entire range of contrastive consonants is found only at the beginning of… …   Wikipedia

  • Modern Hebrew phonology — Main article: Hebrew language For assistance with IPA transcriptions of Hebrew for Wikipedia articles, see WP:IPA for Hebrew. This article is about the phonology of the Hebrew language based on the Israeli dialect. It deals with current phonology …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.