Vietnamese Formerly known under the French colonization as Annamese (see Annam) is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of Vietnamese people, who constitute 86% of Vietnam’s population and of about three million overseas Vietnamese, the bulk of which are Vietnamese Americans. It is also spoken as a second language by some ethnic minorities of Vietnam. It is part of the Austroasiatic language family, of which it has the most speakers by a significant margin (several times larger than the other Austroasiatic languages put together). Much vocabulary has been borrowed from Chinese and was originally written using the Chinese writing system. The Vietnamese writing system in use today is an adapted version of the Latin alphabet, with additional diacritics for tones.