French colonized Vietnam in effort of having their naval base from which they would use to protect and enhance their trade with china. They were also after natural resources like rubber though this was not their primary motive. After these hard and torturous years of Vietnamese colonization the French had made significant impact and largely influenced the Vietnam people either by assimilation, observation or forced learning. Here are some of the Major impacts of the French on Vietnam and can be seen in the Vietnam of today.
The French aided in agricultural as well as communication development of today Vietnam, they build railways that are still there to today, for example the railway connecting Annam in the south with Tonkin in the North. They also build some dams and weirs that controlled flooding especially in the Red River delta which up to today has increased agricultural output. The French also translated the Vietnamese language to written form and this explains why up to today, the Vietnamese western oriented characters.(image by Alain GAVILLET).
French education also has had a significant impact on Vietnam, it has influenced some of the earliest Vietnamese revolutionaries for example the Ho Chi Minh whose many socialist ideals were in the French educational systems. Vietnamese education system today still borrows a lot from the French and this is a significant impact the French ensured they achieved.
Religion, French arrived as catholic priests in Vietnam only to find Buddhism was well established, they tried and carried out their missions and Vietnam today is home to some catholic churches as well as catholic priests. This was a significant impact as its marked the introduction of Catholicism in Vietnam.
Language, French colonized the Vietnamese for almost 80 years, during this period they even introduces French as a language in most Vietnamese schools, this was significant to them and up to Vietnam today, some schools still offer French as a language, its also used as a language of communication in some places of Vietnam.
Culture, the French ensured they imparted a huge impact on Vietnamese culture; this included their food, clothing’s and architecture. Indigenous Vietnam cuisines had no white potatoes or asparagus, Vietnam today features these foods on Vietnamese cuisines, the French bread is also featured. Breakfast in Vietnam today features baguette, orange juice and yoghurt which are all French foods. Vietnamese today dress more like the French, they assimilated their dressing culture and made it part of their own, this is a huge impact of the French on Vietnam today.(image by asiansupper).
Latin alphabets also from the French replaced Chinese characters, accents are worth mentioning too, Vietnamese original language was more of Chinese spoken but today, well educated Vietnamese speak French.
When looking at the French influence on Vietnamese most we conclude that there were positive and negative influences. Much of the Vietnamese culture was eroded away, on the other hand, infrastructure and other developments are still visible in Vietnam today. The eighty years the French stayed in Vietnam had a lot of impact and changed Vietnam for good. The worst impact was of course the way that occurred as the Vietnamese struggled to regain their independence.
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Feature image Alexey Ochkin