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Vietnamese belongs to the Mon-Khmer family and is spoken by 65 million people. Its linguistic affiliation, however is uncertain, and though it is sometimes thought to be distantly related to Chinese, this remains to be proven. Like Chinese, Vietnamese is a tonal language and it has borrowed nearly half of its vocabulary from the Chinese. The Vietnamese alphabet was devised in the 17th century by Catholic missionaries. It contains a complex system of diacritical marks, some distinguishing certain vowel sounds, others indicating tone. It is also an important immigration language, especially in the US. The people are called "Kinh".
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