'Britannica claims that Vietnamese is one of the , not descended from Chinese. Do you have a better source?
-- I don't know what an Austroasiatic language is, other than perhaps a language used near Australia or Asia. The old characters are very similar to Chinese, and the language seems to me to be more related to Chinese than any of the other southeast asian languages I've heard. The only other tonal languages in the area which I know of are Thai, Laotian, Hmong (and some of the other tribal languages), and they're nothing like Vietnamese. My evidence is only empirical, though; I'm sure the real linguists have a better answer for us. -J
Ok. The languages you cited are members of the Tai languages, which is a different group altogether. As to what the Austroasiatic languages are, I think the best answer for now is the languages related to Vietnamese and Cambodian, which do not include Chinese. If they sound similar, though, I would bet that Chinese has had a big influence on Vietnamese, including probably the system of writing. Permission to say so above?
--Go ahead and Be bold in updating pages; I don't mind. Interesting that you bring up Cambodian, though, because that's the language I'm most familiar with - and it's closer to Laotian and Thai than anything else. Cambodian and Thai are about as close to each other as Spanish and English - *lots* of roots and words that are similar or the same, and the written languages are also very close. (Thai and Lao are about like Spanish and Italian, or even Spain-Spanish and Mexico-Spanish). Those three all have strong roots in Pali and Sanskrit. Doing a little research, however, http://www.saigon.com/~nguyent/hoa_04.html seems to agree with you, so let's go ahead and make the change.