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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

From Viet-Muong to Viet and Muong: Vietnamese and Muong Languages and Folklore in a Comparative Perspective

P. 147-149.

In modern Vietnam, the Viet (or the Kinh, the ethnic Vietnamese) and the Muong are considered to be two different peoples, the Viet (Kinh) being the majority and the Muong a minority. In the not so distant past, however, when Vietnam’s population did not see itself in ethnic categories, the only difference between the Viet and Muong ancestors lay in their places of residence – the inhabitants of the capital city and the surrounding plains were named ‘Kinh’ while those who lived in mountain villages were called ‘Muong’. Otherwise, they were the same people, spoke nearly the same language and shared nearly the same traditions. Their commonality is emphasized in the term they are referred to by, i.e. the Viet-Muong. This chapter explores the Vietnamese and Muong languages, dialects, legends, epics and folk songs in a comparative perspective to reveal their similarities, discrepancies, influences and politics. The panelists’ goal is to identify phenomena which are specific for the Viet-Muong community as a whole and those that divide them into two separate groups - the Viet and the Muong.