Writing in the Social Life of Ethnic Groups in Vietnam

Authors: Tạ Quang Tùng (Institute of Linguistics, Vietnam)
Speakers: Tạ Quang Tùng
Strand: Language Minorities and Majorities
Session Type: General Session


More than half of ethnic groups in Vietnam have their own scripts. These writing systems are fairly diverse in terms of forms, origins, changes, and social functions.

In Vietnam nowadays, except Quốc ngữ writing (Quoc ngu – the script of the Vietnamese), other writing systems do not have positive social functions or significant roles in the social life. Language education and language interactions in the areas of ethnic minority people do not generally include the writing. Many ethnic minority groups are at risk of losing their languages and their traditional cultures maintained and developed through their mother tongues. Writing can help manage this risk as shown in the example of the Quốc ngữ writing.

What can be done to diffuse and use writing more effectively? This is an urgent issue for the writing systems in the social life of ethnic minority groups in Vietnam.

Keywords: Writing, Ethnic minority, Language extinction, Language education.