Language & Poetry

The Vietnamese language was originally written in a script called Chữ Nôm which was derived from Chinese characters. It was not until the 17th century when Roman Catholic missionaries introduced a new French-like script called Quốc Ngữ to help spread Christianity. Today all Vietnamese literature is written in this script. When spoken, Vietnamese is phonetic thanks to the five Diacritics (´, `, ˀ, ~, •) placed above Vietnamese vowels.

Vietnamese poetry stems from the language being so flexible and lyrical. There are many types of structures for poems, literally known as "six-eight", "couplet of seven”, “sextuplet of eight”, etc. with words arranged to provide certain phonetic rhythms. Vietnamese poem citing is an entertaining art in which the poem reader practically “sings” the poem with traditional Vietnamese music played in the background.