The Vietnamese writing system
Modern Vietnamese is written with the Latin alphabet, known as Quoc ngu ( ) in Vietnamese. . Quoc-ngu was devised in the mid 17th century by Portuguese missionaries who modified the Roman alphabet with accents and signs to suit the particular consonants, vowels, and tones of Vietnamese.
Quoc ngu consists of 29 letters. These are:
• The 26 letters of the English alphabet minus f, j, w, and z.
• Seven modified letters using diacritics: , , , , , , and .
These modified letters are all considered separate letters of the alphabet. Vietnamese dictionaries follow the order - - - - - - - - ... etc.
The combinations , , , , , , and have also traditionally been considered separate letters with their own section in the dictionary, but this is less common nowadays.
In addition, diacritics are used to indicate the tones of Vietnamese. Tone markings are: (no mark), , , , , and . When letters are combined with tone markings, some complex diacritics can result, such as: , , , and .
The following is a sample of Vietnamese in quoc ngu, a rather unexciting story about the increase in tourism to Laos in 2004. There are many words in this passage that are derived from Chinese, but because they are not written in Chinese characters there origin is not immediately apparent. Note that Laos has its own name in Vietnamese, unlike the names of many countries (outside of Europe and some Asian neighbours) which are normally simply written in English.