Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 14 News List

Globe trotting -- Vietnam 世界走透透:越南


Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and one of the oldest and richest histories as well. Come take a closer look at the country whose motto is "Independence, Freedom, Happiness."


A closer look 說古論今

Vietnam has been inhabited for several thousand years, with people beginning rice farming as early as 2000BC. An early dynasty formed in 257BC, but the Chinese Han Empire swallowed the area in 111BC.

Vietnam remained under Chinese control, gaining independence in 938. The French invaded in the mid-1800s. The colonial regime left only in 1954 after splitting the country in half: North Vietnam, led by Communist Ho Chi Minh, and South Vietnam, led by Ngo Dinh Diem. US troops began assisting the rulers in South Vietnam, but the North won and the country was reunited in 1976 as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The official language is Vietnamese, but many minorities still speak their own languages. All students must study English, though Chinese, Japanese and Russian are also popular second languages. Some older Vietnamese who were educated in French still speak it as well.

Bicycles and motorcycles are the most popular modes of transportation for individuals, though the many rivers are also important for transportation around the country.

The staples of the Vietnamese diet are rice and noodles, much as in Taiwan. The cuisine is heavy on vegetables and light on oil. Mint and basil are favorite spices, and spicy peppers, lime and fish sauce are added to many dishes.

Soccer is the most popular sport in Vietnam, though chess, badminton, tennis and ping pong are also common pastimes.








WHO KNEW? 你知道嗎?

When under Chinese rule, the Vietnamese wrote in classical Chinese, the same writing system used in Japan, Korea and China. Between the 1300s and late 1800s, some Vietnamese also used Chu nom, a script based on these Chinese characters. This script worked in much the same way as Chinese characters, with one side hinting at meaning (by using a standard Chinese character) and the other side indicating sound (if read in the Vietnamese language).

Nguyen Truong To proposed using a standardized version of Chu nom as the standard writing system of Vietnam in 1867, but was turned down by the emperor. As a result, the script was never standardized and never became an official writing system. Classical Chinese was replaced by Quoc ngu in the early 1900s, a roman script developed by Portuguese and French linguists.


一八六七年,阮長祚提議越南採用一套標準化的喃字,但遭皇帝否絕,所以喃字從未標準化或成為正式的語系。到了二十世紀初,漢字被葡萄牙與法國語言學家設計的「Quoc ngu」羅馬化越南語所取代。


1. The king's regime made many nobles rich, but once the republic was established the common people also had a voice in government.

A regime is ...

a. a kind of plant.

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