Language and Scripts Overview
Among the 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups some have had their own scripts for a long time and some have not preserved their ancient scripts. As a matter of fact, some ethnic groups consisting of some hundreds of individuals living in remote areas have their own languages.
Throughout the years, these languages have been enriched in terms of vocabulary, precision, and expression. However, the Viet language is most commonly used.
In terms of script, for a long time under northern domination, han (Chinese) was widely used in trade, education and state documents. This lasted until the beginning of 20th century. During the eighth century, parallel to the use of han, the Vietnamese created the nom script, which used the pictography of han to note the sounds of the Viet language. The appearance of the nom script marked a point of maturity in the national conscious of the Viet, and led to the development of literature in Vietnam.
In the 16th century, quoc ngu (a Romanized script produced by French missionaries) appeared and was substituted for both the han and nom scripts.