Vietnamese numerals

Summary

Historically Vietnamese has two sets of numbers: one is etymologically native Vietnamese; the other uses Sino-Vietnamese origin vocabulary. In the modern language the native Vietnamese vocabulary is used for both everyday counting and mathematical purposes. The Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary is used only in fixed expressions or in Sino-Vietnamese words, in a similar way that Latin and Greek numerals are used in modern English (e.g., the bi- prefix in bicycle).

For numbers up to one million, native Viet is often used the most, whilst mixed Sino-Viet origin words and Native Viet words are used for units of one million or above.

ConceptEdit

For non-official purposes prior to the 20th century, Vietnamese had a writing system known as Hán-Nôm. Sino-Vietnamese numbers were written in Hán tự and native vocabulary was written in Chữ Nôm. Hence, there are two concurrent system in Vietnamese nowadays in the romanized script, one for Native Viet and one for Sino-Viet.

In the modern Vietnamese writing system, numbers are written as Arabic numerals or in the romanized script Chữ quốc ngữ (một, hai, ba), which had a Chữ Nôm character. Less common for numbers under one million are the numbers of Sino-Viet origin (nhất [1], nhị [2], tam [3]), using Chữ Hán (classical Chinese characters). Chữ Hán and Chũ Nôm has all but become obsolete in the Vietnamese language, with the Latin-style of reading, writing, and pronouncing Native Vietnamese and Sino-Vietnamese being wide spread instead, when France occupied Vietnam. Chinese characters can still be seen in traditional temples or traditional literature or in cultural artefacts. The Hán-Nôm Institute resides in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Basic figuresEdit

The following table is an overview of the basic Vietnamese numeric figures, provided in both Native and Sino-Viet forms. The form that is highlighted in green is the most widely used in all purposes whilst the ones highlighted in blue are seen as archaic but may still be in use. There are slight differences between the Hanoi and Saigon dialects of Vietnamese, readings between each are differentiated below.

Number Native Vietnamese Sino-Vietnamese Notes
Chữ quốc ngữ Chữ Nôm Chữ quốc ngữ Hán tự
0 không (none) linh 空 • 〇(零) The foreign-language borrowed word "zêrô (zêro, dê-rô)" is often used in physics-related publications, or colloquially.
1 một 𠬠 nhất 一(壹)
2 hai 𠄩 nhị 二(貳)
3 ba 𠀧 tam 三(叄)
4 bốn 𦊚 tứ 四(肆) In the ordinal number system, the Sino-Viet "tư/四" is more systematic; as the digit 4 appears after the number 20 when counting upwards, the Sino-Viet "tư/四" is more commonly used.
5 năm 𠄼 ngũ 五(伍) Within the Hanoi dialect, five may also be pronounced as "lăm/𠄻" whilst as part of a two-digit number ending in 5 (such as 15, 25, 35...) to avoid possible confusion with homonyms of năm, an example being "năm/𢆥", meaning "year".
6 sáu 𦒹 lục 六(陸)
7 bảy 𦉱 thất 七(柒) In some Vietnamese dialects, it is also read as "bẩy".
8 tám 𠔭 bát 八(捌)
9 chín 𠃩 cửu 九(玖)
10 mười • một chục 𨒒 thập (拾) Chục is used colloquially. "Ten eggs" may be called một chục quả trứng rather than mười quả trứng. It's also used in compounds like mươi instead of mười (e.g.: hai mươi/chục "twenty").
100 trăm • một trăm 𤾓 • 𠬠𤾓 bách (佰) The Sino-Viet "bách/百" is commonly used as a morpheme (in compound words), and is rarely used in the field of mathematics as a digit. Example: "bách phát bách trúng/百發百中".
1,000 nghìn (ngàn) • một nghìn (ngàn) 𠦳 • 𠬠𠦳 thiên (仟) The Sino-Viet "thiên/千" is commonly used as a morpheme, but rarely used in a mathematical sense, however in counting bricks, it is used. Example: "thiên kim/千金". "nghìn" is the standard reading in Northern Vietnam, whilst "ngàn" is the pronunciation in the South.
10,000 mười nghìn (ngàn) 𨒒𠦳 vạn • một vạn • 𠬠萬 The "một/𠬠" within "một vạn/𠬠萬" is a Native Vietnamese (intrinsic term) morpheme. This was officially used in Vietnamese in the past, however this unit has become less common after 1945, but in counting bricks, it is still widely used. The borrowed native pronunciation muôn for 萬 is still used in slogans such as "muôn năm" (ten thousand years/endless).
100,000 trăm nghìn (ngàn) • một trăm nghìn (ngàn) 𤾓𠦳 • 𠬠𤾓𠦳 ức • một ức • mười vạn[1] • 𠬠億 • 𨒒萬 The "mười/𨒒" and "một/𠬠" within "mười vạn/𨒒萬" and "một ức/𠬠億" are Native Vietnamese (intrinsic term) morphemes.
1,000,000 (none) (none) triệu • một triệu • một trăm vạn[2] • 𠬠兆 • 𠬠𤾓萬 The "một/𠬠" and "trăm/𤾓" within "một triệu/𠬠兆" and "một trăm vạn/𠬠𤾓萬" are Native Vietnamese (intrinsic term) morphemes.
10,000,000 (mixed usage of Sino-Viet and Native Viet systems) (mixed usage of Sino-Viet and Native Viet systems) mười triệu 𨒒兆 The "mười/𨒒" within "mười triệu/𨒒兆" is a Native Vietnamese (intrinsic term) morpheme.
100,000,000 (mixed usage of Sino-Viet and Native Viet systems) (mixed usage of Sino-Viet and Native Viet systems) trăm triệu 𤾓兆 The "trăm/𤾓" within "trăm triệu/𤾓兆" is a Native Vietnamese (intrinsic term) morpheme.
1,000,000,000 (none) (none) tỷ [3]
1012 (mixed usage of Sino-Viet and Native Viet systems) (mixed usage of Sino-Viet and Native Viet systems) nghìn (ngàn) tỷ 𠦳秭
1015 (none) (none) triệu tỷ 兆秭
1018 (none) (none) tỷ tỷ 秭秭

Some other features of Vietnamese numerals include the following:

  • Outside of fixed Sino-Vietnamese expressions, Sino-Vietnamese words are usually used in combination with native Vietnamese words. For instance, "mười triệu" combines native "mười" and Sino-Vietnamese "triệu".
  • Modern Vietnamese separates place values in thousands instead of myriads. For example, "123123123" is recorded in Vietnamese as "một trăm hai mươi ba triệu một trăm hai mươi ba nghìn (ngàn) một trăm hai mươi ba, or '123 million, 123 thousand and 123'.[4] Meanwhile, in Chinese, Japanese & Korean, the same number is rendered as "1億2312萬3123" (1 hundred-million, 2312 ten-thousand and 3123).
  • Sino-Vietnamese numbers are not in frequent use in modern Vietnamese. Sino-Vietnamese numbers such as "vạn/萬" 'ten thousand', "ức/億" 'hundred-thousand' and "triệu/兆" 'million' are used for figures exceeding one thousand, but with the exception of "triệu" are becoming less commonly used. Number values for these words are used for each numeral increasing tenfold in digit value, 億 being the number for 105, 兆 for 106, et cetera. However, Triệu in Vietnamese and 兆 in Modern Chinese now have different values.

Other figuresEdit

Number Chữ quốc ngữ Hán-Nôm Notes
11 mười một 𨒒𠬠
12 mười hai • một tá 𨒒𠄩 • 𠬠打 "một tá/𠬠打" is often used within mathematics-related occasions, to which "" represents the foreign loanword "dozen".
14 mười bốn • mười tư 𨒒𦊚 • 𨒒四 "mười tư/𨒒四" is often used within literature-related occasions, to which "tư/四" forms part of the Sino-Viet vocabulary.
15 mười lăm 𨒒𠄻 Here, five is pronounced "lăm/𠄻", or also "nhăm/𠄶" by some speakers in the north.
19 mười chín 𨒒𠃩
20 hai mươi • hai chục 𠄩𨒒 • 𠄩𨔿
21 hai mươi mốt 𠄩𨒒𠬠 For numbers which include the digit 1 from 21 to 91, the number 1 is pronounced "mốt".
24 hai mươi tư 𠄩𨒒四 When the digit 4 appears in numbers after 20 as the last digit of a 3-digit group, it is more common to use "tư/四".
25 hai mươi lăm 𠄩𨒒𠄻 Here, five is pronounced "lăm".
50 năm mươi • năm chục 𠄼𨒒 • 𠄼𨔿 When "𨒒" (10) appears after the number 20, the pronunciation changes to "mươi".
101 một trăm linh một • một trăm lẻ một 𠬠𤾓零𠬠 • 𠬠𤾓𥘶𠬠 Although "một trăm linh một/𠬠𤾓零𠬠" is the standard form, it is more commonly used in Northern Vietnam, where "linh/零" forms part of the Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary; "một trăm lẻ một/𠬠𤾓𥘶𠬠" is more commonly used in the South.
1001 một nghìn (ngàn) không trăm linh một • một nghìn (ngàn) không trăm lẻ một 𠬠𠦳空𤾓零𠬠 • 𠬠𠦳空𤾓𥘶𠬠 When the hundreds digit is occupied by a zero, these are expressed using "không trăm/空𤾓".
10055 mười nghìn (ngàn) không trăm năm mươi lăm 𨒒𠦳空𤾓𠄼𨒒𠄻
  • When the number 1 appears after 20 in the unit digit, the pronunciation changes to "mốt".
  • When the number 4 appears after 20 in the unit digit, it is more common to use Sino-Viet "tư/四".
  • When the number 5 appears after 10 in the unit digit, the pronunciation changes to "lăm/𠄻".
  • When "mười" appears after 20, the pronunciation changes to "mươi".

Ordinal numbersEdit

Vietnamese ordinal numbers are generally preceded by the prefix "thứ-", which is a Sino-Viet word which corresponds to "次-". For the ordinal numbers of one and four, the Sino-Viet readings "nhất/一" and "tư/四" are more commonly used; two is occasionally rendered using the Sino-Viet "nhị/二". In all other cases, the native Vietnamese number is used.

In formal cases, the ordinal number with the structure "đệ (第) + Sino-Vietnamese numbers" is used, especially in calling the generation of monarches. For example: Nữ vương Ê-li-da-bét đệ nhị (Queen Elizabeth II).

Ordinal number Chữ quốc ngữ Hán-Nôm
1st thứ nhất 次一
2nd thứ hai • thứ nhì 次𠄩 • 次二
3rd thứ ba 次𠀧
4th thứ tư 次四
5th thứ năm 次𠄼
nth thứ "n" 次「n」

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Tu dien Han Viet Thieu Chuu[permanent dead link]:「(1): ức, mười vạn là một ức.
  2. ^ Tu dien Han Viet Thieu Chuu[permanent dead link]:「(3): triệu, một trăm vạn.
  3. ^ Hán Việt Từ Điển Trích Dẫn 漢越辭典摘引:「Một ngàn lần một triệu là một tỉ 秭 (*). Tức là 1.000.000.000. § Ghi chú: Ngày xưa, mười vạn 萬 là một ức 億, một vạn ức là một tỉ 秭.
  4. ^ Triệu means one million in Vietnamese, but the Chinese number that is the source of the Vietnamese word, "兆" (Mandarin zhào), is officially rendered as 1012 in Taiwan, and commonly designated as 106 in the People's Republic of China (See various scale systems).

See alsoEdit