Vietnamese Accents

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Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 6:28

I don't think the different accents have been addressed in this forum. Hope this reintroduces people to the Vietnamese language and the many different accents that exist in Vietnam.

Here are 3 of the main accents:
Formal conversations:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGxhCHLPQN8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxxFsovluZI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h45s7veSssA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv93vwilsCs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UF60UVMKWY
Everyday conversations:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA9LLJENVeI
Standard Vietnamese (Northern Accent) (Heard a lot in parts of Europe)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uk16PvnzH8
(listen to the old lady speak, the rest of the speakers are in northern)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeZMXyTKUOE
Historical drama mostly in Hue accent:
http://movies.tialia.com/ngon-nen-hoang ... 77b62.html
Central Accent (This one's rarely heard mostly because they usually mimic other accents when they're surrounded by them because they tend to switch accents so other people can understand them)

Formal conversation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0EPo8-6PB8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1jn7SjsXFE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph9ry5MJ3pQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLxgyDMDpFw
Everyday conversation:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z56JGF7YQao
Southern Accent (This accent is heard a lot in America because of S. Vietnamese refugees)

We sing in the standard Vietnamese accent also:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxQLuCPdowU
Also FYI if you haven't already noticed.
MC, 1st, 3rd judge - standard accent
2nd judge - southern accent with slight influence from northern
4th judge - southern accent
Last edited by ThumbsUp on 2010-12-16, 8:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-12-16, 6:45

What's the deal with the central accent(s)? Are they standardized at all? I hear that other Vietnamese people find them hard to understand (probably due to far greater exposure to the standards of Hanoi and Saigon).

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 6:53

Talib wrote:What's the deal with the central accent(s)? Are they standardized at all? I hear that other Vietnamese people find them hard to understand (probably due to far greater exposure to the standards of Hanoi and Saigon).


There's really no standard central accent because there are many different kinds. The most popularly known is the Hue accent though. They're hard to understand in part because of much less exposure (you rarely hear them in dramas or shows) also because they have a lot of dialectal words that are a lot different from the other two accents along with speaking in a lower heavier "octave". However, if it weren't for the exposure of southern accent or northern accent through films and shows they would have a hard time understanding each other also. The overall sounds of each accent are quite different along with dialectal words.

They're almost borderline dialects. Even now many southerners have a hard time understanding the northern accent and it takes time to follow up on what they're saying. I would believe it would be the same flipped although southern accent is more popular in films and shows because southern Vietnam dominates the showbiz scene at the moment.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby Tenebrarum » 2010-12-16, 7:19

But which central accent? There are two distinct groups of central accents: North-Central and South-Central, divided by Hải Vân Pass.

The links shown for "Central" here are actually the Huế accent, which is the standard NC dialect, because Huế used to house the last dynasty of Vietnam.

South Central, typified by Đà Nẵng, is similar to Southern. Actually SC is the progenitor of Southern dialects, since the first Vietnamese to settle down South were from the province of Quảng Nam, formerly including Đà Nẵng.
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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 7:36

Draven wrote:But which central accent? There are two distinct groups of central accents: North-Central and South-Central, divided by Hải Vân Pass.

The links shown for "Central" here are actually the Huế accent, which is the standard NC dialect, because Huế used to house the last dynasty of Vietnam.

South Central, typified by Đà Nẵng, is similar to Southern. Actually SC is the progenitor of Southern dialects, since the first Vietnamese to settle down South were from the province of Quảng Nam, formerly including Đà Nẵng.


Actually I think there might be 3 or even more.

There's north central (Thanh Hoa, Nghe An etc), Central (Hue, Quang Ngai etc), South Central (Danang, Nha Trang etc) but from what I've heard so far, south central is quite similar to southern.

Hue accent pronounces words similar to southerners.
Whereas north central speaks quite like northerners except both are still in typical central low tones.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby Tenebrarum » 2010-12-16, 7:46

ThumbsUp wrote:Hue accent pronounces words similar to southerners.
Whereas north central speaks quite like northerners except both are still in typical central low tones.

I think it's naturally a continuum from North to South, but Hai Van is clearly a very sharp divide.
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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-12-16, 8:09

I've heard Central and North-Central described differently. I don't know if this means anything to you. I'm not surprised that the Huế accent is considered standard, since I know that's an important city .

So which would you recommend for a learner? All the material I've read leans towards Northern, but Southern seems popular too.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 8:30

Talib wrote:I've heard Central and North-Central described differently. I don't know if this means anything to you. I'm not surprised that the Huế accent is considered standard, since I know that's an important city .

So which would you recommend for a learner? All the material I've read leans towards Northern, but Southern seems popular too.


Yeah it was the last capital city of ancient Vietnam which is probably why it's much more popular.

Northern might be a lot easier because it goes well with the writing. If you do southern accent you'll have to memorize how to spell a lot. Writing is different from speaking.

But I'd say learn the one that interests you most. Overtime you'll get used to it.

I forgot, if you live in the states then you'd probably pick up Vietnamese faster learning Southern Vietnamese accent because of the large community of Southern Vietnamese.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-12-16, 8:39

All Vietnamese dialects have their differences from the orthography (which is so ad hoc that it's hard to tell anyway). I think the Northern dialect is less ambiguous though.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 9:03

Talib wrote:All Vietnamese dialects have their differences from the orthography (which is so ad hoc that it's hard to tell anyway). I think the Northern dialect is less ambiguous though.


Northern dialect is much much less ambiguous. The only trouble you'd have is possibly remembering
which to write r, gi, d because in the north they're all pronounced z. Everything else is simply spell the way you sound it out.

Southern would screw you over in writing however reading is fine if you read the Southern way and not the standard way. You'd have to memorize the written vowels, initial consonants and ending consonants and words with ? and ~ tones pretty much the whole word for a lot of words. The writing sort of works like Chinese characters in the way that you have to memorize it sort of like a whole picture in order to write it down the standardized way. It's much like English their, there, they're except more complicated. Ex: say: thẵng thắng write: thẳng thắn , say: sắt write: sách, say: tắc write: tắt. You'd tend to confuse on a lot of words. A dictionary will be required if you intend to write words you don't confidently know how to spell.

You can always just write the way you speak and plenty of Southerners and possibly others will still understand. Just takes a little time to decode even for Southerners who were educated the standard way. :)

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby Tenebrarum » 2010-12-16, 9:45

ThumbsUp wrote:Northern dialect is much much less ambiguous. The only trouble you'd have is possibly remembering which to write r, gi, d because in the north they're all pronounced z. Everything else is simply spell the way you sound it out.

Uh... no, they also have a problem with distinguishing TR and CH, which they name "heavy CH" and "light CH" respectively (or is it the other way around? Idk.) The puzzling thing is they pronounce the two digraphs exactly the same, with no difference in strength whatsoever. So where the hell did the names come from?

But yes, the Hanoi dialect has diverged the least from our 17th-century-orthography.

ThumbsUp wrote:Ex: say: thẵng thắng write: thẳng thắn

Say: Thẳng thắng. Write: thẳng thắn. :wink:
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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 9:58

Draven wrote:
ThumbsUp wrote:Northern dialect is much much less ambiguous. The only trouble you'd have is possibly remembering which to write r, gi, d because in the north they're all pronounced z. Everything else is simply spell the way you sound it out.

Uh... no, they also have a problem with distinguishing TR and CH, which they name "heavy CH" and "light CH" respectively (or is it the other way around? Idk.) The puzzling thing is they pronounce the two digraphs exactly the same, with no difference in strength whatsoever. So where the hell did the names come from?

But yes, the Hanoi dialect has diverged the least from our 17th-century-orthography.


I found out that there is a difference in the way they pronounce the two. Though some may merge the two. After a while trying to get used to the Northern accent I noticed they pronounced Tr like the English J, and Ch like the English Ch, it's more aspirated. So when they say Chút, for example, it sounds like English Chute while in Southern accent Ch would sound more like J and Chút sounds like Jute (actually more like Juke) and Southern Tr sounds Jurr or Jr. So Tri would be Ji in N. and Jri in S.

This is probably where they got the "heavy" and "light" CH because J is like a heavy Ch while Ch is light as we can see in English.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-12-16, 10:48

From what I understand, Northern <tr> and <ch> are pronounced the same. I would assume the names come from how other Vietnamese speakers who still distinguish them pronounce them.

Another difference is that the Northern accent does not have retroflex consonants, so <s> and <x> are pronounced the same as well as <r> and <gi> and the aforementioned <tr> and <ch>. Like I said, all dialects have ambiguities, but I think the Northern accent is a somewhat better match. The best would probably be the central dialects which still distinguish <d> and <gi> from other sounds, for example.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby abcdefg » 2010-12-16, 18:38

Draven wrote:Uh... no, they also have a problem with distinguishing TR and CH, which they name "heavy CH" and "light CH" respectively (or is it the other way around? Idk.) The puzzling thing is they pronounce the two digraphs exactly the same, with no difference in strength whatsoever. So where the hell did the names come from?

Hahahah :lol:
As Thumbsup and Talib says some do pronounce Ch and Tr differently. I pronounce Tr kinda like the German dsch or sometimes tsch.
And Northerners do know the orthography lol, we just don't (feel the need to) follow it :P all consonants here are pronounced softer & lighter than in other areas; trying to add more strength to each is a pointless tiring work.

Draven wrote:
ThumbsUp wrote:Ex: say: thẵng thắng write: thẳng thắn

Say: Thẳng thắng. Write: thẳng thắn. :wink:

Hey isn't it how the word is pronounced in Đà Nẵng? :D I found a clip, the guy said hiệu trưỡng instead of hiệu trưởng :D
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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 18:42

Talib wrote:From what I understand, Northern <tr> and <ch> are pronounced the same. I would assume the names come from how other Vietnamese speakers who still distinguish them pronounce them.

Another difference is that the Northern accent does not have retroflex consonants, so <s> and <x> are pronounced the same as well as <r> and <gi> and the aforementioned <tr> and <ch>. Like I said, all dialects have ambiguities, but I think the Northern accent is a somewhat better match. The best would probably be the central dialects which still distinguish <d> and <gi> from other sounds, for example.


Those actually happen to almost all accents though. I think every accent can pretty much distinguish Tr and Ch and R and Gi. Even northerners can say r. You hear it here and there but they rather use z as it flows better. Central and Southerners do the same too. Most people nowadays merge Tr and Ch and X and S. Central accents just like South and North don't distinguish gi and d. In the north both gi and d are pronounced z, north central too, but central and south pronounce both gi and d as y. Also southerners pronounce v as y. Southerners can pronounce v but a lot of them choose not to as it flows better in their accent.

Much like Northerners sometimes switch Tr with z because they like how it sounds. For southerners there's a lot of changes in nearly the whole language. Gi, d, and v = y, qu, hu, ngu, becomes w, s and x are merged often (like northerners), tr and ch are also merged often, then there are vowels like âu that becomes ao, then there are ending consonants that merge or switch, then there are tone merging of hỏi and ngã. Central is pretty similar except they can say qu, hu, ngu and v but there are some vowel changes and the ending consonants are changed similar to southern. So centralers can easily mimic Southern accent by just raising their tones. For r's centralers tend to pronounce them as rolling French J. Southerners pronounce them differently from province to province. Some rolling French J, some English G, but most slightly trill their r's.

Northern accent is really close to the writing and original Vietnamese language, for instance, if you learn Vietnamese and pronounce every sound correctly, like distinguishing s and x, tr and ch, and r it'd still be a northern accent, possibly a much less lazier northern accent because you're not merging similar sounds. So there's even a more correct northern accent than most northern accents.

As for gi and d i'm not sure exactly what the original sounds were. Some people say d is y and gi is z especially because Han-Viet words with D when translated into modern Chinese most of the times turn out as Y. However I've seen some valid arguments to show that Gi was possibly a sound like French J like Je Sui and D was always Z because middle and old Chinese actually used to pronounce those y's as z and Vietnamese borrowed those words from the Chinese through the middle Chinese era. It was only later on that due to similarity in sounds have these two sounds merged in Vietnamese. That sounds about right because of the trend in merging similar sounds as seen in s - x, and tr - ch.

So that leaves where did the y sound come from in South and Central Vietnamese. There are some discussions that it's possibly due to the inability to pronounce Gi as French J. Kind of like how Germans pronounce J as Y. For example, I've heard several Southerners when pronouncing Indonesia in English as Indoneyia because the sia part sounds like jia. Then due to how similar z is to j they also couldn't pronounced it and changed it to y.

Another argument is that Southerners changed a lot from northerners because of interaction of the many Chinese settlers that were in the south which are mostly of Cantonese or Chiu-Chow origins. The interesting thing here is they cannot pronounce z's, or v's either. They also have a lot of y's and w's. For instance Chinese Hwang, turns into Wang, much like Vietnamese Hoang turns into Wang in southern accent.

If these speculations are correct then Centralers must've switched their z's to y's and other speech closer to Southerners due to interaction and closeness to Southerners.

Oh yeah, sorry for the long post. :lol: I just get really into this. There's actually people who are more nerdy about these stuff than I am. :para:
Last edited by ThumbsUp on 2010-12-16, 19:33, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-12-16, 18:47

ThumbsUp wrote:Northern accent is really close to the writing and original Vietnamese language, for instance, if you learn Vietnamese and pronounce every sound correctly, like distinguishing s and x, tr and ch, and r it'd still be a northern accent, possibly a much less lazier northern accent because you're not merging similar sounds. So there's even a more correct northern accent than most northern accents.
Sounds like how I (try to) speak, except I can only make a half-assed imitation of the tones.
There are some discussions that it's possibly due to the inability to pronounce Gi as French J. Kind of like how Germans pronounce J as Y.
Not to nitpick but the English (as well as French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan) pronunciation of <j> is due to a sound change that occurred in Vulgar Latin and was borrowed by English due to French influence. The German (and Dutch, Scandinavian, Slavic etc.) value is the original sound of the letter, which derives from <i>.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 18:53

Talib wrote:
ThumbsUp wrote:Northern accent is really close to the writing and original Vietnamese language, for instance, if you learn Vietnamese and pronounce every sound correctly, like distinguishing s and x, tr and ch, and r it'd still be a northern accent, possibly a much less lazier northern accent because you're not merging similar sounds. So there's even a more correct northern accent than most northern accents.
Sounds like how I (try to) speak, except I can only make a half-assed imitation of the tones.
There are some discussions that it's possibly due to the inability to pronounce Gi as French J. Kind of like how Germans pronounce J as Y.
Not to nitpick but the English (as well as French, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan) pronunciation of <j> is due to a sound change that occurred in Vulgar Latin and was borrowed by English due to French influence. The German (and Dutch, Scandinavian, Slavic etc.) value is the original sound of the letter, which derives from <i>.


You're just as nitpicky as I am with Vietnamese. :yep:

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 18:56

abcdefg wrote:
Draven wrote:Uh... no, they also have a problem with distinguishing TR and CH, which they name "heavy CH" and "light CH" respectively (or is it the other way around? Idk.) The puzzling thing is they pronounce the two digraphs exactly the same, with no difference in strength whatsoever. So where the hell did the names come from?

Hahahah :lol:
As Thumbsup and Talib says some do pronounce Ch and Tr differently. I pronounce Tr kinda like the German dsch or sometimes tsch.
And Northerners do know the orthography lol, we just don't (feel the need to) follow it :P all consonants here are pronounced softer & lighter than in other areas; trying to add more strength to each is a pointless tiring work.

Draven wrote:
ThumbsUp wrote:Ex: say: thẵng thắng write: thẳng thắn

Say: Thẳng thắng. Write: thẳng thắn. :wink:

Hey isn't it how the word is pronounced in Đà Nẵng? :D I found a clip, the guy said hiệu trưỡng instead of hiệu trưởng :D


I believe Draven is a southerner like me. Which is possibly why he's confusing hỏi with ngã.
Southerners also do say hiệu trưỡng or nowadays hiệu chưỡng.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-12-16, 18:57

I'm not very nitpicky about Vietnamese at all. Native speakers are, however. Six different tones! And you have to master them all* or nobody will understand you.

*Unless you're a Southerner, that is.

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Re: Vietnamese Accents

Postby ThumbsUp » 2010-12-16, 19:04

Talib wrote:I'm not very nitpicky about Vietnamese at all. Native speakers are, however. Six different tones! And you have to master them all* or nobody will understand you.

*Unless you're a Southerner, that is.


I mean with other languages as I am with Vietnamese.

The tones actually aren't hard to pronounce it's just having to remember each word with the different tone that is hard. A lot of memorizations.

Hey Cantonese have 8 different tones add to that the Chinese writing. I would imagine it'd be a nightmare to learn.


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