Urbanization and Language Change in Vietnam: Evidence from a Rural Community in Hanoi

Trinh Cam Lan

Abstract

Language change and contact in Vietnam has recently intensified among some demographic groups. As such, certain sociolinguistic patterns help to describe these changes in language and society. This study is aimed at observing and measuring dialect change in Vietnam influenced by urbanization, with evidence from a rural community in Hanoi, a speech community in Xuan Canh commune, Dong Anh district.

The study investigates the ways in which dialect change in this region has developed according to specific social and cultural factors. The Xuan Canh speech community evidences a narrowing usage of local variants. For its method, the study employs fieldwork, and subsequent quantitative methods to aid in the analysis. The data set includes 34 informants, randomly selected, which were categorized into certain social variables. The study also released 34 questionnaires, 11 recorded files of natural speech, from which emerged two sets of 34 recorded files of word lists and a text.

The results indicate a gradual reduction in the frequency of use of local variants, a decrease in the number of lexical forms with rural characteristics, and an increase in certain types of urban variants. This trend can be seen by observing changing social variables sensitive to urbanization, such as youths, officials, students, and hence people who have out-community communication scope. Here, the quantitative correlations prove statistically significant. The state of dialect change in this community thus signifies a phenomenon common to Vietnamese rural communities under the effect of the urbanization; that is, a tendency following language urbanization in Vietnam.