Vietnamese Grammar Handbook 1
Cẩm Nang Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Việt 1


   The Vietnamese language is one of the oldest languages in the world. Discovery of remains in Thanh Hoá province (northernmost part of Central Vietnam) in the mid 20th century has proved that Vietnamese people have existed for nearly 300,000 years in the area. Unfortunately no solid evidence of a remote ancient Vietnamese written system could be found. Scattered information related to a system of so-called ‘crawling worms’ has cast some lights on what is believed to have been the writing system prior to the Han political domination beginning in the second century B.C.
Despite all of the ups and downs of a people whose fate has been to suffer so many disturbances, politically and socially, the language and its speakers have been able to survive and develop. Vietnamese is now one of the major languages of the world, with more than 80 million speakers in the country and more than 3 million others abroad.
   This publication is intended to give learners as well as researchers a good look into the language from both academic and practical perspectives. It should be used as a reference in a comparative approach where English speakers would find it more comfortable when learning Vietnamese on the basis of their knowledge of English.
   As the advance of technology has made the world smaller than ever, contacts among speakers of different languages have increased. In addition to the retaining of ancient Vietnamese terms co-existing with the modern ones, like bán  new for ‘to sell’ + chác ancient for ‘to buy’, vocabulary and structures of other languages have found their way to mingle with the vernaculars. Forty years ago, a Vietnamese would never have heard a phrase such as đến từ Canada ‘came from Canada’. Nowadays, this phrase has become “on the tip of the tongue” to newscasters or masters of ceremony in Vietnamese communities around the world, even though these phrases are not acceptable as “correct Vietnamese.” Or one would say without hesitation: Chị Mai có phôn trên đường line số 2. ‘Ms Mai is wanted on the phone, line 2.’ History repeats itself for tuyến đường ‘line’ as to refer to means of transporation: ‘train line, bus line, boat line’ as Vietnamese in contact with the ancient Chinese two thousand years ago when tuyến ‘line’ was borrorowed from Chinese whereas line is being adapted from English. What difference is the order of terms in both phrases, which convey the same meaning: đường line = tuyến đường.
   It is the ambition of this publication to provide learners with a close look at the authentic Vietnamese language from the bottom-up and how it is structured phonologically, lexically and pragmatically. Learners will see that Vietnamese behaves vertically whereas English, in particular, behvaves horizontally. How could two such entirely different languages work together compatibly?
The author hopes that this publication will be useful and helpful for non-heritage and heritage Vietnamese born abroad, and for those who wish to endear themselves to the language.
   Best wishes to all of those who are toiling to study Vietnamese!