Chu Nom Revival [Vietnamese]

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Chu Nom Revival [Vietnamese]

Postby Kasuya » 2009-02-03, 20:42

What are the chances for a Chu Nom revival and what do you think the extent of it would be?

I see two favourable conditions for a revival of Chu Nom emerging. 1. Chinese is back. Based on current trends it's not hard to see Chinese becoming the lingua franca of East Asia within the next 50 years. The result of this would be that Vietnamese people would be heavily exposed to Chinese characters. And because Chinese characters are the building blocks of Chu Nom, this situation would greatly aid Vietnamese people in learning Chu Nom. 2. As Vietnam is becoming more wealthy, people are starting to spend more time thinking about matters other than rudimentary life. People will no doubt spend more time studying Vietnamese heritage which will surely lead to increased interest in Chu Nom. An example of increased wealth bringing about elements of language revival is Gaelic in Ireland.

It seems certain that more Vietnamese will learn Chu Nom in the future but that doesn't mean it will supplant Quoc Ngu. However it would certainly be more fitting for Vietnam to use a script devised from Chinese like the other countries of the Sinosphere. The main argument against Chinese characters in general is that they are difficult to learn however studies* conducted with school students in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo have shown that Chinese characters are actually not a burden on students.

Another thing to look at is if contemporary Vietnamese write much notable literature in Quoc Ngu. If enough quality writing is produced in Quoc Ngu, then it may gain prestige and value as a writing system, making it more resistant to displacement by Chu Nom. It's also possible that in the future we will see some form of co-existence of the two scripts in Vietnam.


* (in Japanese) http://sankei.jp.msn.com/culture/academic/080722/acd0807220259001-n1.htm

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16240
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal, Québec
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby JackFrost » 2009-02-03, 21:48

The Vietnamese cannot handle two spelling systems at once. Chu Nom died for a very good reason: it kept way too many people illiterate. An example: Japanese is already a nightmare with its three sets of writing systems.

And finally, there are only a handful of scholars that are capable of writing and reading Vietnamese in Chu Nom. That means, the government would have to spend millions of dollars (or billions of dongs if you must) and at least a decade of work teaching the teachers the script that they never learnt as a child. It'd be a bitch to teach old dogs new tricks as the teachers are often middle-aged now. God know that the Vietnamese are sometimes stubborn as a mule.

It'd be easier if the students learn Chinese instead of furthering complicating their own language for the convidence of the Chinese, a language is not completely related to Vietnamese. There are many Chinese living in Vietnam and they're more capable of teaching Chinese to the Vietnamese students than many Vietnamese themselves.

The main argument against Chinese characters in general is that they are difficult to learn however studies* conducted with school students in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo have shown that Chinese characters are actually not a burden on students.

Because the Japanese could understand many of the Chinese characters by comparing them to the kanji script.

An example of increased wealth bringing about elements of language revival is Gaelic in Ireland.

The hard part is to know if such wealtier families are sending their children to Gaelic schools because it's "cool" to learn Gaelic. And sometimes the quality of Gaelic taught in school and spoken by such students are just "awful" according to many serious Gaelic speakers. So what would stop the Vietnamese teachers from teaching Chu Nom so awfully if they don't know it so well.
Neferuj paħujkij!

eskandar
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 3056
Joined: 2006-12-15, 8:27
Real Name: Eskandar
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby eskandar » 2009-02-03, 22:18

I don't think this is realistic at all. Aside from the fact that many Vietnamese harbor resentment towards the Chinese and would not favor re-introducing a Chinese elements into their culture, it's simply unnecessary and adds a great deal of difficulty to Vietnamese, whereas the benefits are virtually nil. As JackFrost pointed out, a more plausible scenario would be for Chinese to be taught as a foreign language in Vietnam. However, a few caveats:

JackFrost wrote:The Vietnamese cannot handle two spelling systems at once. Chu Nom died for a very good reason: it kept way too many people illiterate. An example: Japanese is already a nightmare with its three sets of writing systems.

This is a silly statement; the Vietnamese are perfectly capable of handling as many different spelling systems as any other people on Earth. Despite its three sets of writing systems, Japan has a 99% literacy rate compared to Vietnam's 90.3%. There is very little correlation between writing system and national literacy. Instead, literacy is determined by the quality and accessibility of education, as well as other socioeconomic factors. China, with its supposedly difficult writing system, has 93% national literacy. Compare that to some of the countries with the lowest literacy rates on Earth, whose writing systems are Latin-based and relatively simple: Haiti (61%), East Timor (50.1%), on down to Sierra Leone (37.1%) and even Mali (22.9%).
Please correct my mistakes in any language.

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Kasuya » 2009-02-03, 23:15

JackFrost wrote:And finally, there are only a handful of scholars that are capable of writing and reading Vietnamese in Chu Nom. That means, the government would have to spend millions of dollars (or billions of dongs if you must) and at least a decade of work teaching the teachers the script that they never learnt as a child. It'd be a bitch to teach old dogs new tricks as the teachers are often middle-aged now. God know that the Vietnamese are sometimes stubborn as a mule.


We're talking about a national heritage here. Do you realize what lengths and costs governments go to to preserve a national heritage?

It'd be easier if the students learn Chinese instead of furthering complicating their own language for the convidence of the Chinese, a language is not completely related to Vietnamese.


Why on earth would the Vietnamese change to Chu Nom for the convenience of the Chinese?

Because the Japanese could understand many of the Chinese characters by comparing them to the kanji script.


I think you're mixed up. Kanji is the Japanese word for "Chinese characters".

The hard part is to know if such wealtier families are sending their children to Gaelic schools because it's "cool" to learn Gaelic. And sometimes the quality of Gaelic taught in school and spoken by such students are just "awful" according to many serious Gaelic speakers. So what would stop the Vietnamese teachers from teaching Chu Nom so awfully if they don't know it so well.


The difference is that Chu Nom is merely a script whereas Gaelic is a language. It's considerably easier to learn a script for a language which you already know than it is to learn an entire language from scratch.

eskandar wrote:Aside from the fact that many Vietnamese harbor resentment towards the Chinese and would not favor re-introducing a Chinese elements into their culture, it's simply unnecessary and adds a great deal of difficulty to Vietnamese, whereas the benefits are virtually nil.


I can think of a number of significant benefits:

:arrow: Vietnamese people could then read the original versions of the classics of their literature.
:arrow: Being able to better understand and use the thousands of Chinese loan words within Vietnamese.
:arrow: With knowledge of Chu Nom, learning Chinese would be far easier.

User avatar
Tenebrarum
Posts: 6631
Joined: 2006-06-22, 17:02
Real Name: Duy
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-02-04, 4:22

eskandar wrote:
JackFrost wrote:The Vietnamese cannot handle two spelling systems at once. Chu Nom died for a very good reason: it kept way too many people illiterate. An example: Japanese is already a nightmare with its three sets of writing systems.

This is a silly statement; the Vietnamese are perfectly capable of handling as many different spelling systems as any other people on Earth.

But we don't want to, that's the point. Actually using multiple systems at once is simply an extraterrestrial concept to most Vietnamese. All the learners of Japanese I know always complain about how that language needs too many scripts and they wonder if it's because the Japanese have so much time in their hands. To the Vietnamese mind you either use one script or another, but certainly not both.
Besides, putting Chinese characters next to Roman letters would result in a hilarious sight.

lichtrausch wrote:We're talking about a national heritage here. Do you realize what lengths and costs governments go to to preserve a national heritage?

Chữ Nôm is a very unwieldy and ineffective script - even at its prime it was hardly standardised, and to be honest, it's not completely "ours" anyway - to read Nôm you've got to have knowledge of standard Hanzi first. Its role in history was merely to preserve the Vietnamese language in a written form (albeit lousily) and that role was completed with the introduction of Roman alphabet.

lichtrausch wrote:I can think of a number of significant benefits:

:arrow: Vietnamese people could then read the original versions of the classics of their literature.
:arrow: Being able to better understand and use the thousands of Chinese loan words within Vietnamese.
:arrow: With knowledge of Chu Nom, learning Chinese would be far easier.

1. Not an interest of the average Vietnamese. The average Vietnamese prefers making money and mindless entertainment instead. People interested, on the other hand, will automatically have knowledge of Chữ Nôm. Why? Because they're interested and will read as much about it as possible.
2. In every society on earth, etymology has always belonged to the true literary elite, a rare class in Vietnam.
3. Remember that Mandarin in mainland China now uses the simplified Hanzi. If you dig up the set of characters used in feudal Vietnam, you'll see that it's rickety old and outdated (duh!). I see no concrete benefit there.

lichtrausch wrote:As Vietnam is becoming more wealthy, people are starting to spend more time thinking about matters other than rudimentary life. People will no doubt spend more time studying Vietnamese heritage which will surely lead to increased interest in Chu Nom.

Sorry, still not enough wealth. And even if you want to study about the Vietnamese heritage, there's hardly any serious material.

lichtrausch wrote:Why on earth would the Vietnamese change to Chu Nom for the convenience of the Chinese?

Exactly, that's why we don't. :wink: :lol:

As for the supposed rise of Mandarin and Chinese characters, I must say that I don't see it here at all. Saigon always has an active and visible Chinese community, they speak various southern Chinese languages and opt for Vietnamese as their lingua franca. Sure, many people in Vietnam watch trashy Chinese television dramas (dubbed with Vietnamese) and listen to trashy Chinese pop music (translated to Vietnamese), but for the vast majority that's as far as it goes. Like I said in the "What are popular foreign languages in your country?" thread (or smth like that), the only realistic choice of foreign language in Vietnam is English. It's what really hot now, and I don't see that changing in the next decade.
!Chalice! Communion wafer of the tabernacle

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16240
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal, Québec
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby JackFrost » 2009-02-04, 8:27

eskandar wrote:This is a silly statement.

In the past it wasn't so silly as Chu nom was almost exclusively used by the elite class. This resulted its death in the early 20th century in favour of Quoc ngu. That is why I said it died for a very good reason due to, as you said, socio-economic situtation.

lichtrausch wrote:We're talking about a national heritage here. Do you realize what lengths and costs governments go to to preserve a national heritage?

I doubt that the Vietnamese see Chu nom as their heritage because it's not of their creation and is an import. They're more likely to be attached to the language itself instead as their common heritage.

Why on earth would the Vietnamese change to Chu Nom for the convenience of the Chinese?

Because Chu nom is Chinese to the eyes of the Vietnamese. ;)

I think you're mixed up. Kanji is the Japanese word for "Chinese characters".

Hence why the Japanese can recognize many Chinese characters. You quoted a study done in Japan.

Vietnamese people could then read the original versions of the classics of their literature.

Which is now written and preserved in Quoc ngu. All they had to do is decode the script and encode such literature into another without changing the structure of the language itself. The literature will be still original because it doesn't change the language, but the script.

I could write French or English in Cyrillic without changing the linguistic structures to fit into the mould.

Being able to better understand and use the thousands of Chinese loan words within Vietnamese.

The Vietnamese could tell whether the word is Mon-Khmer or Sinitic by following this rule: if you can change the tone without changing the meaning of the word, it's Mon-Khmer. If you change the meaning with the tone shift, it's Sinitic.

(Draven, correct me if I am mistaken. You mentioned this not too long ago).

Plus, you can just teach them Chinese instead if they want to further enrich the knowledge of loan words in Vietnamese.

With knowledge of Chu Nom, learning Chinese would be far easier.

Perhaps so in some degree, but you must remember that Mandarin uses the simplified script and Chu nom is the product from the traditional script now only used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Hence, it would be better if they learn Mandarin instead.
Neferuj paħujkij!

User avatar
Tenebrarum
Posts: 6631
Joined: 2006-06-22, 17:02
Real Name: Duy
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-02-04, 9:40

JackFrost wrote:The Vietnamese could tell whether the word is Mon-Khmer or Sinitic by following this rule: if you can change the tone without changing the meaning of the word, it's Mon-Khmer. If you change the meaning with the tone shift, it's Sinitic.

(Draven, correct me if I am mistaken. You mentioned this not too long ago).

I'm sure I didn't. You must have read it in Wikipedia :P I remember reading it in Wikipedia too.
That rule is false anyway, as you can easily change a native word's meaning by changing its tone: mắt (eye) vs. mặt (face) for example.

To ask how a Vietnamese spots a Sinitic word is exactly the same as asking how an English speaker recognises a Latinate or Greek word - if you can break the word into smaller semantic parts, it's native; whereas if it's completely cryptic and you find yourself resorting to folk etymology, it's borrowed. But then there are also borrowings so perfectly naturalised that you wouldn't think of them as such, like stay in English and chìm (to sink) in Vietnamese, which are early borrowings from Middle French and Early Middle Chinese respectively.
!Chalice! Communion wafer of the tabernacle

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16240
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal, Québec
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby JackFrost » 2009-02-04, 10:16

That rule is false anyway, as you can easily change a native word's meaning by changing its tone: mắt (eye) vs. mặt (face) for example.

Well I don't mean it that way. I was thinking something else like tone harmony. :?

To ask how a Vietnamese spots a Sinitic word is exactly the same as asking how an English speaker recognises a Latinate or Greek word - if you can break the word into smaller semantic parts, it's native; whereas if it's completely cryptic and you find yourself resorting to folk etymology, it's borrowed. But then there are also borrowings so perfectly naturalised that you wouldn't think of them as such, like stay in English and chìm (to sink) in Vietnamese, which are early borrowings from Middle French and Early Middle Chinese respectively.

Now I remember what you have mentioned. :P
Neferuj paħujkij!

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Kasuya » 2009-02-04, 18:32

Draven wrote:But we don't want to, that's the point. Actually using multiple systems at once is simply an extraterrestrial concept to most Vietnamese. All the learners of Japanese I know always complain about how that language needs too many scripts and they wonder if it's because the Japanese have so much time in their hands. To the Vietnamese mind you either use one script or another, but certainly not both.
Besides, putting Chinese characters next to Roman letters would result in a hilarious sight.


I'm not sure what eskandar meant, but when I mentioned the possible co-existence of Quoc Ngu and Chu Nom, I was thinking more of Quoc Ngu continuing to be used as the language of everyday life and Chu Nom being used by well-educated Vietnamese as a literary language (kind of like how it was used back in the day). Or some other scenario along those lines.

Chữ Nôm is a very unwieldy and ineffective script


Is it somehow more ineffective than the rather effective Hanzi writing system?

3. Remember that Mandarin in mainland China now uses the simplified Hanzi. If you dig up the set of characters used in feudal Vietnam, you'll see that it's rickety old and outdated (duh!). I see no concrete benefit there.


There's a huge benefit. If you know Chu Nom, then you have a solid foundation in Chinese characters. It would be a similar benefit as Japanese have when learning Chinese.

As for the supposed rise of Mandarin and Chinese characters, I must say that I don't see it here at all. Saigon always has an active and visible Chinese community, they speak various southern Chinese languages and opt for Vietnamese as their lingua franca. Sure, many people in Vietnam watch trashy Chinese television dramas (dubbed with Vietnamese) and listen to trashy Chinese pop music (translated to Vietnamese), but for the vast majority that's as far as it goes. Like I said in the "What are popular foreign languages in your country?" thread (or smth like that), the only realistic choice of foreign language in Vietnam is English. It's what really hot now, and I don't see that changing in the next decade.


Lingua francas don't change overnight. It's a very gradual process. I don't know the situation so well in Vietnam, but globally Chinese is marching forward. Over 30 million people study Chinese as a foreign language today.* That's something like triple the number from a decade ago. The economic data and prognoses for China give people many good reasons to learn Chinese. You may not notice these trends in current everyday life, but they are indicators of things to come. This thread is not about the present, but rather about coming decades.

JackFrost wrote:In the past it wasn't so silly as Chu nom was almost exclusively used by the elite class. This resulted its death in the early 20th century in favour of Quoc ngu. That is why I said it died for a very good reason due to, as you said, socio-economic situtation.


In the past elites all over the world dominated written language. Nowadays it doesn't matter if a country uses a Chinese based script or a Latin based one. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Western Europe all have nearly perfect literacy rates.

I doubt that the Vietnamese see Chu nom as their heritage because it's not of their creation and is an import. They're more likely to be attached to the language itself instead as their common heritage.


Chu Nom isn't a creation of Vietnamese people? That's news to me. Every Vietnamese I have ever talked to said "we created a writing system based off of the Chinese script."

Which is now written and preserved in Quoc ngu. All they had to do is decode the script and encode such literature into another without changing the structure of the language itself. The literature will be still original because it doesn't change the language, but the script.

I could write French or English in Cyrillic without changing the linguistic structures to fit into the mould.


Apples and oranges. Chinese characters hold much more information than letters of an alphabet. If you rewrite something written in Chu Nom into Quoc Ngu, you lose information and it's no longer the original.


*http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200507/20/eng20050720_197135.html

eskandar
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 3056
Joined: 2006-12-15, 8:27
Real Name: Eskandar
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby eskandar » 2009-02-04, 21:38

JackFrost wrote:
eskandar wrote:This is a silly statement.

In the past it wasn't so silly as Chu nom was almost exclusively used by the elite class. This resulted its death in the early 20th century in favour of Quoc ngu. That is why I said it died for a very good reason due to, as you said, socio-economic situtation.

No, you are reading history backwards. Chu Nom wasn't used by the elite class because it was difficult; it was used by the elite class because only the elites had access to literacy education, as lichtrausch pointed out. This is the important point that you are not understanding: Chu Nom did not die off because it was ineffective. European missionaries created Quoc Ngu for evangelical purposes and the French colonial government made it the official script of Vietnamese. Chu Nom died because Quoc Ngu was forcibly made the script of all government, business, education, and so on. In a sense, it did not "die off" but rather was "murdered."

There are some things about Quoc Ngu that are better-suited to Vietnamese than Chu Nom, but Quoc Ngu also has advantages over Chu Nom. One advantage is that words of Chinese origin which are homophones in Vietnamese can be distinguished in Chu Nom. The classic example of this is "minh" which when written as 明 means bright and 冥 means dark. So, Quoc Ngu is not superior to Chu Nom in all ways, though I do agree that it's overall a better script for Vietnamese. However, the reasons you cited had nothing to do with Chu Nom falling out of use.
Please correct my mistakes in any language.

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16240
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal, Québec
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby JackFrost » 2009-02-04, 23:25

Where did I say it died off because it was simply difficult. You're making assumption upon assumption.

The classic example of this is "minh" which when written as 明 means bright and 冥 means dark.

I'm having trouble finding in two dictionaries where "minh" stands alone and has the meaning of "dark", apart from one entry saying "không minh bạch". :? "Minh" are in compound words so far, all of which mean "clear/light".

There's a huge benefit. If you know Chu Nom, then you have a solid foundation in Chinese characters. It would be a similar benefit as Japanese have when learning Chinese.

The trouble is, not many people know Chu nom. Only a handful of scholars have an extensive knowledge of it.

Chu Nom isn't a creation of Vietnamese people? That's news to me. Every Vietnamese I have ever talked to said "we created a writing system based off of the Chinese script."

Funny that every Vietnamese I've heard said the opposite.

But they're the same people who love to mock the Chinese. So it's hard to see a grain of truth based on personal experiences.

Apples and oranges. Chinese characters hold much more information than letters of an alphabet. If you rewrite something written in Chu Nom into Quoc Ngu, you lose information and it's no longer the original.

How can you lose information? Chu nom is Vietnamese written in Chinese characters. Take the information out of a character and put it in Quoc ngu. There is a software where you can simply enter the Vietnamese words in Quoc ngu to get them converted into Chu nom.

So I fail to see the difference between "apples and oranges", so perhaps they're really all apples after all.



I won't say Quoc ngu is 100% superior, but to me, it's more suitable for Vietnamese than Chu nom.
Neferuj paħujkij!

eskandar
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 3056
Joined: 2006-12-15, 8:27
Real Name: Eskandar
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby eskandar » 2009-02-05, 0:57

JackFrost wrote:Where did I say it died off because it was simply difficult. You're making assumption upon assumption.

You need to read my posts more carefully. I never accused you of saying Chu Nom died off simply because it was difficult. I did imply that you thought that was a factor, which is backed up by your statement here:

JackFrost wrote:Chu Nom died for a very good reason: it kept way too many people illiterate

But did you somehow miss the bold text in my last post, which stated my main rebuttal to your argument, that Chu Nom fell out of use because it was ineffective or ill-suited to Vietnamese? Your other remarks to me are almost completely irrelevant. I will never understand why people argue passionately about things they know so little about.

JackFrost wrote:I'm having trouble finding in two dictionaries where "minh" stands alone and has the meaning of "dark", apart from one entry saying "không minh bạch". :? "Minh" are in compound words so far, all of which mean "clear/light".

Look here. The "dark" meaning has fallen out of use in today's Vietnamese precisely because of the confusion caused by Quoc Ngu.
Please correct my mistakes in any language.

User avatar
Tenebrarum
Posts: 6631
Joined: 2006-06-22, 17:02
Real Name: Duy
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-02-05, 4:30

lichtrausch wrote:
Chữ Nôm is a very unwieldy and ineffective script

Is it somehow more ineffective than the rather effective Hanzi writing system?

Look, I don't want to comment on the nature of ideogram. But Nôm is in fact a derivative of Hanzi. It's basically Hanzi as long as you write Chinese words. What makes it a nightmare is how it handles the native ones. I'm not sure you have seen some of the rules, because if you have, you must conclude that it's crazy and only for the intelligent.

lichtrausch wrote:Chu Nom isn't a creation of Vietnamese people? That's news to me. Every Vietnamese I have ever talked to said "we created a writing system based off of the Chinese script."

And don't you know Vietnamese priests played an irremovable part in creating the modern alphabet as well? That makes Quốc Ngữ as "ours" as Nôm. Actually if you look at it from a pessimistic angle, you'll see that we never have had anything really ours. Nôm ultimately stems from the Han civilization, and Quốc Ngữ was from Latin Europe. As a small underdeveloped country, Vietnam has always stayed on the fringes of great civilizations.

lichtrausch wrote:The economic data and prognoses for China give people many good reasons to learn Chinese. You may not notice these trends in current everyday life, but they are indicators of things to come. This thread is not about the present, but rather about coming decades.

Yes and please understand I was merely stating my own observation. Perhaps I don't see the full velocity of China because I've never been into that Mandarin hype. And will never be.

eskandar wrote:One advantage is that words of Chinese origin which are homophones in Vietnamese can be distinguished in Chu Nom. The classic example of this is "minh" which when written as 明 means bright and 冥 means dark.

The dark minh is largely gone anyway, we only see its remnants in some placenames. And I don't feel sorry for obscure Chinese elements like that - loanwords come and go, what needs preserving is the native lexicon. A (non-nerdy) English speaker couldn't care less if words like mansuetude go extinct now could s/he?

eskandar wrote:the French colonial government made it the official script of Vietnamese

The French was not that enthusiastic about it. They discouraged the use of Vietnamese. It was Ho Chi Minh who brought Quốc Ngữ to its throne and, when you read this, please remember that he was a brilliant poet who loved classical Chinese and wrote Tang poems while in jail.
!Chalice! Communion wafer of the tabernacle

eskandar
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 3056
Joined: 2006-12-15, 8:27
Real Name: Eskandar
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby eskandar » 2009-02-05, 5:32

Draven wrote:
eskandar wrote:One advantage is that words of Chinese origin which are homophones in Vietnamese can be distinguished in Chu Nom. The classic example of this is "minh" which when written as 明 means bright and 冥 means dark.

The dark minh is largely gone anyway, we only see its remnants in some placenames. And I don't feel sorry for obscure Chinese elements like that - loanwords come and go, what needs preserving is the native lexicon. A (non-nerdy) English speaker couldn't care less if words like mansuetude go extinct now could s/he?

Well, I think this is the point that lichtrausch was raising - using Chu Nom can help preserve some of the old Vietnamese (or Sino-Vietnamese) vocabulary. Personally, I feel like there's no trade-off between preserving the old Chinese words or preserving the native lexicon; there's no reason why you can't have both. One of the biggest strengths of any language is the depth and breadth of its vocabulary; English is such an expressive language because it has absorbed large amounts of foreign vocabulary in addition to its native Germanic base. However, an outsider's perspective such as mine is ultimately irrelevant. It is Vietnamese people such as yourself who will determine whether preserving such words is important or not.

If I can go off on a tangent for a minute, there are a few small similarities between Vietnamese and my beloved Persian. Persian has a ton of loanwords from Arabic that are similar to the Chinese loanwords in Vietnamese. They are foreign, generally opaque in meaning (cannot be broken down into smaller semantically-meaningful parts), can often be recognized by their foreign-sounding structure, sometimes operate differently than native Persian words in terms of grammar, and so on. They were imposed onto the language during Arab rule of Iran, and many Iranians today still harbor resentment towards Arabic, the Arabs, and anything related to them. My point is this: some nationalist Iranians would like to see Persian stripped of its Arabic vocabulary and "returned" to its "pure" state. But I think it's wonderful that we have so many words from different sources. In English, being able to say "freedom" or "liberty" gives the language flexibility and expressiveness, and being able to say "barābari" (native Persian word) or "mosāvāt" (Arabic loan) gives the same flexibility and range of expression to Persian. That's why I think Vietnamese shouldn't be so indifferent (or hostile) to the Chinese loans.

Draven wrote:
eskandar wrote:the French colonial government made it the official script of Vietnamese

The French was not that enthusiastic about it. They discouraged the use of Vietnamese. It was Ho Chi Minh who brought Quốc Ngữ to its throne and, when you read this, please remember that he was a brilliant poet who loved classical Chinese and wrote Tang poems while in jail.

Of course you're right that the French promoted French above Vietnamese, and that Quoc Ngu was originally promoted by Vietnamese nationalists and anti-colonialists. However, the French government did make Quoc Ngu official and this had an important impact on the demise of Chu Nom. I think Bac Ho promoted Quoc Ngu because it's easier to learn than Chu Nom-- more of a "people's script," and a useful tool in promoting literacy. Despite whatever I've said in this thread, I do think that Quoc Ngu is a better script for Vietnamese than Chu Nom. However, I think Chinese (or at least Chu Nom) should be taught in Vietnamese schools, for the reasons I've stated above. People in English-speaking countries (used to) study Latin in school to help with their English, Iranians study Arabic in school to help with their Persian, so I think Vietnamese should study Chinese to learn more about the Chinese elements in their language.
Please correct my mistakes in any language.

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16240
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal, Québec
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby JackFrost » 2009-02-05, 5:44

eskandar wrote:But did you somehow miss the bold text in my last post, which stated my main rebuttal to your argument, that Chu Nom fell out of use because it was ineffective or ill-suited to Vietnamese? Your other remarks to me are almost completely irrelevant.

I doubt you know my argument in complete because I greatly oversimplified and was not in the mood to go into such details.

I did not miss the bolded part.

And I know the history behind the disapperance of Chu nom. I still believe Chu nom died because it was ineffective for Vietnamese, as Draven already had pointed it out. It was one of the few factors. Quoc ngu reduced the necessary eduction time to gain literacy than Chu nom. As for the cases of literacy in Haiti and other countries, it's not an one-size-fit-all thing.

I will never understand why people argue passionately about things they know so little about.

Hey. Mind you. You're not always right either in your arguments. Don't underestimate my knowledge of everything Vietnamese. At least I know more about it than many people and I'm not going to assume it's more than you since I do not think like that way. No need to throw in that kind of statement sprinkled with "you know nothing" arrogance.
Neferuj paħujkij!

User avatar
Tenebrarum
Posts: 6631
Joined: 2006-06-22, 17:02
Real Name: Duy
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-02-05, 14:08

eskandar wrote:But I think it's wonderful that we have so many words from different sources. [...] That's why I think Vietnamese shouldn't be so indifferent (or hostile) to the Chinese loans.

I don't think one can get rid of Chinese loanwords even if one wants to, as Vietnamese has grown to be so dependent on Chinese loanwords - we don't even have a native equivalent like freedom or barābari to describe "the state of not being controlled or limited", but solely the Sinitic word.

And to be honest, most of Viets don't even know what etymology is, so don't bother talking to them about whether a word came from classical Chinese or not. To most, Vietnamese is just... simply the language that they speak - the only language that ever exists, hello? Hell, they don't even think about it, much like the average American who liberally abuses the English language in their daily life. Try discussing words of Latin origins with them.

eskandar wrote:However, I think Chinese (or at least Chu Nom) should be taught in Vietnamese schools, for the reasons I've stated above. People in English-speaking countries (used to) study Latin in school to help with their English, Iranians study Arabic in school to help with their Persian, so I think Vietnamese should study Chinese to learn more about the Chinese elements in their language.

Touch upon education in Vietnam and you'll be opening a large can of worm. It's a grossly outdated system that barely manages to sustain itself, let alone upgrading. I don't know this country can go anywhere with that, not like I care, but what I know is the kind of well-structured linguistic study we've been mentioning is, right now, educational luxuries you can't buy here even if you have money. And who bothers with such fancy esoteric useless rubbish anyway? Just try to learn English and get yourself in some business school. Consider yourself lucky if you can afford that. Then get a job that yields money. Money money money.
(Not that I see any other path available for a third world country with shitty education.)
!Chalice! Communion wafer of the tabernacle

User avatar
Kasuya
Posts: 1008
Joined: 2008-11-14, 7:31
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Kasuya » 2009-02-05, 17:04

JackFrost wrote:
There's a huge benefit. If you know Chu Nom, then you have a solid foundation in Chinese characters. It would be a similar benefit as Japanese have when learning Chinese.

The trouble is, not many people know Chu nom. Only a handful of scholars have an extensive knowledge of it.


So...? When I speak of the benefits of Chu Nom being used it obviously implies that people actually learn it before they use it.

How can you lose information? Chu nom is Vietnamese written in Chinese characters. Take the information out of a character and put it in Quoc ngu. There is a software where you can simply enter the Vietnamese words in Quoc ngu to get them converted into Chu nom.

So I fail to see the difference between "apples and oranges", so perhaps they're really all apples after all.


I recommend you read an introduction to Chinese characters. Suffice to say that most Chinese characters are made up of elements that contain information about the meaning and the pronunciation of the character. When you detach a word from its character, it loses the semantic element.

Draven wrote:Look, I don't want to comment on the nature of ideogram. But Nôm is in fact a derivative of Hanzi. It's basically Hanzi as long as you write Chinese words. What makes it a nightmare is how it handles the native ones. I'm not sure you have seen some of the rules, because if you have, you must conclude that it's crazy and only for the intelligent.


Languages are rarely developed with simplicity in mind. I don't understand how you can call Chu Nom ineffective when it served Vietnam well for 1000 years. Certainly no worse than the Latin script served Western Europe or the Japanese script served Japan. I don't feel strongly one way or the other about Vietnamese using Quoc Ngu or Chu Nom but I do believe that (a standardized) Chu Nom is a viable alternative.

User avatar
Tenebrarum
Posts: 6631
Joined: 2006-06-22, 17:02
Real Name: Duy
Gender: male

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-02-06, 4:07

lichtrausch wrote:Languages are rarely developed with simplicity in mind. I don't understand how you can call Chu Nom ineffective when it served Vietnam well for 1000 years. Certainly no worse than the Latin script served Western Europe or the Japanese script served Japan. I don't feel strongly one way or the other about Vietnamese using Quoc Ngu or Chu Nom but I do believe that (a standardized) Chu Nom is a viable alternative.

But you can't deny that simplicity is always desirable. :wink:

And Nôm didn't serve Vietnam that much. Aristocrats spoke a localized version of Chinese in court and at home. Commoners spoke Vietnamese but couldn't write at all. Nôm was only a tool that enabled writers and poets to write Vietnamese when they needed to. The script's true service in administration was only for 200 years or so. (I'm not saying all this to prove that Nôm is ineffective, but merely stating historical facts.)

JackFrost wrote:How can you lose information? Chu nom is Vietnamese written in Chinese characters.

You don't lose anything as long as we're talking about native words. But with Chinese borrowings, you do.

Like I said, materials on Nôm are available for enthusiasts (quality aside of course). But the only tangible benefit it offers is the etymology of Chinese loanwords, which is nowhere near important in the minds of most Vietnamese speakers, just like most English speakers don't care about the origins of words in their language. I'm not sure in the West they teach kids etymology in school, but nobody has thought of that here. And if it's only about etymology then why bother with Nôm anyway? Nôm is simply "Hanzi" + "characters bent and twisted to write native words". If you want to teach etymology, all you have to do is teaching them Hanzi. The native part of Nôm is only a testament of Viet people's resourcefulness; it hardly casts any light on the native lexicon and as such, has no practical value once you have Roman alphabet.

As we all know, there is also a big political problem in bringing back Chinese characters. I myself feel sickened when reading studies from some Chinese "scholars" who try their best to prove that Vietnamese is a Sinitic language. They compare core vocabulary of the two sides and propose etymological connections downright implausible and absurd, and yet there are learners of Vietnamese who read those craps and actually believe (google "What's so Chinese about Vietnamese?"). They've been trying that despite the Mon-Khmer root of Vietnamese becoming more and more apparent each year. You see, Viets always want to distance themselves from Chinese not because of the warring past, but rather because Han Chinese as a whole display cultural expansionism.
!Chalice! Communion wafer of the tabernacle

User avatar
JackFrost
Forum Administrator
Posts: 16240
Joined: 2004-11-08, 21:00
Real Name: Jack Frost
Gender: male
Location: Montréal, Québec
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby JackFrost » 2009-02-06, 4:52

(google "What's so Chinese about Vietnamese?")

Well, I wish I haven't done that now.

is still only another theory, an unfinished work, not quite satisfactorily proven yet.

Lord, some people just love to repeat that over and over in various word orders. :D
Neferuj paħujkij!

User avatar
abcdefg
Posts: 461
Joined: 2008-07-26, 4:44
Real Name: Linh
Gender: female
Location: Dublin
Country: IE Ireland (Éire / Ireland)

Re: Chu Nom Revival

Postby abcdefg » 2009-02-06, 7:06

JackFrost wrote:
(google "What's so Chinese about Vietnamese?")

Well, I wish I haven't done that now.

Why?? I only skimmed but the paper seemed to prove that Vietnamese is clearly a language on its own, branched Mon-Khmer, rather than another Sinicized victim.

But if there were such studies concluding Vietnamese is a Sinitic language only based on vocabulary comparison, they are plain ridiculous. After thousands of years of forceful contact it's just impossible to be unaffected. Funny to remember how actively those greedy bears tried to shove their culture down on our throats, and several hundred years later their descendants look at the result with a cool surprise and take it as a ground for mighty studies. I like many of the Chinese culture, but that WE-RULE!!!!! kind of ideas are just too hard to bear.

As for this topic, I don't think there's a reasonable chance for chữ Nôm's revival either, reasons same as what Jack, eskandar and Draven have presented. And Nôm is pretty wild, haphazard and crazy; even if someone cares to know more about their country's history, there's a great chance that they'll find other ways not involving Nôm. I fail to see how this script helps with etymology too - since you must know Chinese before you can write Nôm, not the other way around. That's also why Nôm was only used between elites, not commoners.
Tôi kể người nghe chuyện Phố-trong-sông,
chuyện những mùa Đông đi qua thời con gái.
Bóng đổ dài, bước chân người mê mải
Gió chở mùa về,
hoang hoải cả giấc mơ..


Return to “South East Asian Languages”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest