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Vietnamese Localization

Though considerably more straight forward than in years gone by, Vietnamese localization can become a localization nightmare for the inexperienced. Despite mostly using Unicode encoding, there is still non-Unicode, single-byte encoding in use – this needs to be identified and addressed from the outset to prevent major complications and rework later down the track.

Also, because of the difference between Northern, Central and Southern dialects, choice of vocabulary and grammar used for translations into Vietnamese must be based on both the nature of the subject matter and the target readership. In the same regard, careful attention should also be given to Vietnamese voiceover. Due to the three major dialects which are in use in different regions of Vietnam, consideration needs to be given to the choice of voice artist to ensure that they are appropriate to the target audience.


  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Machine Translation engine building
  • Machine Translation post-editing
  • Desktop publishing
  • Voiceover & dubbing
  • Subtitling & closed captions
  • Flash & multimedia localization
  • Linguistic testing
  • Functional testing
  • Interpretation


  • Documentation
  • Technical manuals
  • Marketing materials
  • Brochures & flyers
  • Packaging & labeling
  • Magazines & newsletters
  • Websites
  • Mobile applications
  • Software applications
  • Training & eLearning
  • Voiceover & multimedia
  • Video content

About Vietnamese

The Vietnamese language is a member of the Mon-Khmer group Austroasiatic language family, of which the other two significant members are Khmer and Mon; however, much of Vietnamese vocabulary has been borrowed from Chinese, as China dominated Vietnam from 111 BCE to 939 CE. Even after Vietnam gained independence from China, Chinese continued to be used as the official administrative language until it was supplanted by French during the period of French colonization. It was not until Vietnam gained independence from France in 1954 CE that Vietnamese became the official language of Vietnam.

After gaining independence from China, Vietnamese began to be written using the Chữ nôm script, an adaptation of the Chinese script; Chữ nôm contains some 3,000 characters not found in Chinese. During the 17th century, Roman Catholic missionaries introduced a Latin-based script known as Quốc Ngữ. In 1910, while under French rule, the Quốc Ngữ script was decreed to be the official script for writing Vietnamese. Literacy in the Chữ nôm script is now confined to a small number of scholars and antiquarians.

The modern Vietnamese alphabet contains 12 vowels ( A a A a  â E e Ê ê I i O o Ô ô O o U u U u Y y ) and 17 consonants ( B b C c D d Ð d G g H h K k L l M m N n P p Q q R r S s T t V v X x ); in addition, there are 5 diacritical vowel tone markers* (À à Ẩ ẩ à ã Á á Ậ ậ ). It is written from left to right with spaces between words and uses punctuation (other than the apostrophe) that is similar to English.

Vietnamese is generally considered to have three major regional dialects: Northern, Central, and Southern. The dialects differ primarily in pronunciation, but there are also differences in vocabulary and grammar. The Northern dialect is generally considered to be the prestige register of Vietnamese.

* For technical reasons, in order to ensure that the tone markers display correctly on all browsers, they are shown in combination with the vowel A.

Vietnamese Translation & Localization Challenges

  • Vietnamese DTP requires the use of software programs that are capable of correctly rendering letters that may have two superscripted, or one superscripted and one subscripted, diacritical marks.
  • Although most documents are now encoded in Unicode format UTF-8, there are documents that still use non-Unicode, single byte encodings such as TCVN3, VNI, and VISCII.
  • Because of the differences among the Northern, Central, and Southern dialects, the choice of vocabulary and grammar used for translations into Vietnamese must be based on both the nature of the subject matter and the target readership.
  • With regard to voice-over recording, the significant differences in pronunciation among the three major dialects require that voice talents be chosen based on the target audience; for a national audience, native speakers of the Northern dialect would normally be preferred.


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