Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts for Vietnamese

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Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts for Vietnamese

Postby Pepper » 2009-11-02, 9:04

Since there is often a lot of talk about the writing system for Vietnamese, I was just wondering if anyone here was aware of some new scripts that have been developed for Vietnamese.

Chu Vong (a system for Vietnamese) developed by Albert Nguyen

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/chuvong.php

And his other project, for a fictional language he created called "Trantanese." Even though Trantanese is NOT Vietnamese, please try and think of Trantanese in context of Vietnamese and attempt to visualize/imagine Vietnamese being written with the Trantanese script (provided the languages seem quite similar). Besides, if you read for just a few seconds about Trantanese, you'll see how similar it is to Vietnamese.

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/trantanese.htm

If these pages do not load for you and it's really late at night or very early in the morning, that's because this website is notorious for basically shutting down at these hours. It's a real annoyance, but I am not sure we can do anything about it xP. Hope to see some replies :).
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby JackFrost » 2009-11-03, 2:47

The thing is, why Vietnamese needs a new writing system when Quoc Ngu is just doing fine?

Personally, I find the alternative system that you linked as another silly attempt to make Vietnamese too much like Chinese (even though it's not exactly a true Chinese character system, but a Korean Hangul-like system). I think it's vital to keep Vietnamese distinct and easily recognizable from the languages north of the border. A Chinese may notice it's not Chinese, but any non-Chinese won't know any better.

Don't get me wrong. I think Chu Nom already serves as a good source of Vietnamese literary history, but I don't see much of point of switching to make it similar to it.
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Kasuya » 2009-11-03, 3:05

JackFrost wrote:The thing is, why Vietnamese needs a new writing system when Quoc Ngu is just doing fine?

As a literary language Quoc Ngu isn't doing well at all. Interesting how the two most successful East Asian literary languages both use Chinese characters. :idea:

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Imbecilica » 2009-11-03, 6:22

Contrary to personal preferences, I think that the Quốc Ngữ script is the best option. It was first officially used in Southern Vietnam in 1882 before being adopted by the other regions a few years later. Personally, I think alternative scripts serve no other purpose than for artistic or personal purposes. No offense but both of the scripts you have presented are 1. inefficient and 2. extremely unpleasant to the eyes. At least Quốc Ngữ has a certain rhythm to it. It's not perfect, but the best option by far. There are a few problems though such as where to correctly place diacritics, the issue of i as opposed of y etc. No offense but anyone could come up with much more aesthetic scripts than those two.

lichtrausch wrote:As a literary language Quoc Ngu isn't doing well at all. Interesting how the two most successful East Asian literary languages both use Chinese characters. :idea:


But you have to remember what the primary function of a writing system is; to record the language. Quốc Ngữ is the best option for this. If Quốc Ngữ has been used since 1882 with few objections, that must tell you something about how useful it is.
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-11-03, 11:33

lichtrausch wrote:As a literary language Quoc Ngu isn't doing well at all.

You mean script. And I can only hope you're not completely ignorant about the tremendous contribution of Quốc Ngữ literature in the late 19th and early 20th century to the Vietnamese language. It's a whole classical era on its own.

The petite level of intellect in modern Vietnam was bestowed by an unfortunate course of history (feudal dynasties adamantly keeping education to themselves, the wars, the triumph of anti-intellectual communism, the embargo and politico-economic isolation etc.) and has got nothing to do with the writing system. Even Japanese with its orthographic labyrinth is able to boast a literacy rate of 99%, so please...
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Kasuya » 2009-11-03, 21:02

Draven wrote:You mean script. And I can only hope you're not completely ignorant about the tremendous contribution of Quốc Ngữ literature in the late 19th and early 20th century to the Vietnamese language. It's a whole classical era on its own.

The last piece of Vietnam literature to make a splash on the international scene was Truyen Kieu. Could you name a few of the main works from this classical era you mentioned? I might be interested in reading them.

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Tenebrarum » 2009-11-04, 6:52

lichtrausch wrote:The last piece of Vietnam literature to make a splash on the international scene was Truyen Kieu.

Modern and early-modern Southeast Asian literature... well, let's not be pedantic here... SEA literature of all ages is not very visible on the global stage. Whoever into it must be a weirdo standing in defiance of the mainstream.

At any rate, Vietnam is a particularly dismal case, because it has only opened up to the big decadent capitalistic world recently. It's a bit amusing that the new tourism slogan is "Vietnam the Hidden Charm" - hidden, as in fantastically obscure. So don't count on "the international scene" when discussing Vietnamese literature.

lichtrausch wrote:Could you name a few of the main works from this classical era you mentioned? I might be interested in reading them.

Sit through Vietnamese highschool and you should have a copious amount of them deep-bored into your brains, then have them liquefied and pouring back out through the hole after you're done with highschool. My long-term memory is able to retain some of the more prominent names, mostly in the poetry realm, like Xuân Diệu, Hàn Mặc Tử, the fuzz about Thơ Mới ("New Poetry") Movement or that Tự Lực Văn Đoàn society, etc., etc. But my favorite author's got to be Chế Lan Viên with his gotho-tastic collection Điêu Tàn ("In Ruins"), on whom there's sadly no Wikipedia article yet. Communist/revolutionary poetry is pretty impressive as well, with authors like Tố Hữu.

Nôm literature, needless to say, does not limit itself to Nguyễn Du. The other wonder of Nôm poetry is none other than Hồ Xuân Hương, whose mind was dirtier and more subversive than any 21st century teenage boy.

After that little showcasing, I feel obliged to add that it will be hard to find translated Vietnamese poetry on the internet.
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Kasuya » 2009-11-07, 21:57

Draven wrote:Sit through Vietnamese highschool and you should have a copious amount of them deep-bored into your brains, then have them liquefied and pouring back out through the hole after you're done with highschool. My long-term memory is able to retain some of the more prominent names, mostly in the poetry realm, like Xuân Diệu, Hàn Mặc Tử, the fuzz about Thơ Mới ("New Poetry") Movement or that Tự Lực Văn Đoàn society, etc., etc. But my favorite author's got to be Chế Lan Viên with his gotho-tastic collection Điêu Tàn ("In Ruins"), on whom there's sadly no Wikipedia article yet. Communist/revolutionary poetry is pretty impressive as well, with authors like Tố Hữu.

Nôm literature, needless to say, does not limit itself to Nguyễn Du. The other wonder of Nôm poetry is none other than Hồ Xuân Hương, whose mind was dirtier and more subversive than any 21st century teenage boy.

After that little showcasing, I feel obliged to add that it will be hard to find translated Vietnamese poetry on the internet.

Thanks for the info. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of poetry. I have a go at poetry every couple years to see if I've not become more receptive to it, but alas I still haven't been able to derive pleasure from reading it.

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Pangu » 2010-05-05, 11:34

While Quoc Ngu is practical, it's not exactly aesthetically pleasing IMHO. Also at the end of the day, Quoc Ngu is written with Roman letters, not exactly very "Vietnamese".

With that said, the two alternative scripts above aren't exactly ideal either. They seem overly complicated and not too easy on the eyes either. I do believe a Hangul-based script could be possible for Vietnamese, although the tonal marks would be a challenge.

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Tenebrarum » 2010-05-05, 12:29

Pangu wrote: Also at the end of the day, Quoc Ngu is written with Roman letters, not exactly very "Vietnamese".

The Vietnamese alphabet has been Vietnamese for four centuries.

Chữ Nôm was derived from the Chinese script, just like the current alphabet is an adaptation of the Roman alphabet. Chữ Nho was plain Chinese. I don't see any ground for the argument that the older scripts are somehow "more Vietnamese". They were simply... earlier.
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Pangu » 2010-05-05, 12:43

Draven wrote:
Pangu wrote: Also at the end of the day, Quoc Ngu is written with Roman letters, not exactly very "Vietnamese".

The Vietnamese alphabet has been Vietnamese for four centuries.

Chữ Nôm was derived from the Chinese script, just like the current alphabet is an adaptation of the Roman alphabet. Chữ Nho was plain Chinese. I don't see any ground for the argument that the older scripts are somehow "more Vietnamese". They were simply... earlier.

I can't speak for anyone else but when I first saw Quoc Ngu, my initial reaction is that it's familiar as I already speak English, another language that uses Roman letters. However, the immediate second thought is that I feel sorry Vietnamese don't have their own script. Koreans have Hangul, Japanese have their mix usage of Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, why not Vietnamese?

I understand most modern Vietnamese were brought up with Quoc Ngu and it's all they know. So of course they would feel Quoc Ngu is no less Vietnamese than Pho or Nuoc Man.

Chu Nho is simply Hanzi, so using Chu Nho is definitely out of the question. Chu Nom, while based on Hanzi, at least it was a Vietnamese invention, as opposed to Quoc Ngu which was initially invented by a Portugese. But keep in mind, I am not arguing that the ideal situation is to replace Quoc Ngu with Chu Nom, but with another Vietnamese-invented script.

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Tenebrarum » 2010-05-05, 13:29

Pangu wrote:However, the immediate second thought is that I feel sorry Vietnamese don't have their own script. Koreans have Hangul, Japanese have their mix usage of Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, why not Vietnamese?

I'd be cynical and say that the Vietnamese as a people are creatively stifled.

But then, should we be sorry for all other non-Italian ethnicities who are using the Roman alphabet instead of a writing system indigenously invented? Should we be sorry for those that have never invented any script? Inventions like Hangul only come once in a while, and the propagation of ideas is subjected to the unforgiving wheel of history - to be concise, it's too random so don't be disappointed if your native language doesn't have an indigenous script. You're lucky that it is written down at all.
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Pangu » 2010-05-05, 14:38

Draven wrote:I'd be cynical and say that the Vietnamese as a people are creatively stifled.

That's not a fair statement.

Vietnamese, as a people, simply haven't been given the opportunity to enjoy much stability, which is much needed for creativity. It's difficult to be creative when he doesn't even know when his next meal is.

If you look at different civilizations around the world, the height of their cultures is usually when the country is the most stable. In terms of Chinese civilization, some of those stable eras which resulted in numerous inventions and advancements includes Han, Tang, Song and Ming dynasties.

Of course, war can also give invention a boost such as during World War I and II, however that's only the case when you are the aggressor (U.S., Japan and Germany) and not those who are being attacked and/or occupied, which is the case for most part of Vietnamese history.

Draven wrote:But then, should we be sorry for all other non-Italian ethnicities who are using the Roman alphabet instead of a writing system indigenously invented? hould we be sorry for those that have never invented any script?

It's not a matter of "should", it's just my opinion. Also as a side note, modern day Italians have little to do with the former Romans, just like modern day Greeks and Egyptians and their ancient counterparts.

Draven wrote:Inventions like Hangul only come once in a while, and the propagation of ideas is subjected to the unforgiving wheel of history - to be concise, it's too random so don't be disappointed if your native language doesn't have an indigenous script. You're lucky that it is written down at all.

I agree with the last part. However, we should never just settle without striving for more.

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2010-05-05, 16:27

I don't get it. What's the big deal with language having a script of its own? Does it make the language better?
It's the same bloody language, it doesn't matter what script you use nor does it matter who invented that script.

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Pangu » 2010-05-05, 16:52

Rumpetroll wrote:I don't get it. What's the big deal with language having a script of its own? Does it make the language better?

There are plenty of reasons why having your own script is better, but I won't go into that here as I am not looking to convince people that it is. You are entitled to your opinion.

Rumpetroll wrote:It's the same bloody language, it doesn't matter what script you use nor does it matter who invented that script.

Do you seriously believe using different scripts will not cause change in the language and the culture?

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby linguoboy » 2010-05-05, 17:38

Pangu wrote:There are plenty of reasons why having your own script is better[.]

Can you name six? I'm curious to learn some, because the only justification I've ever heard is cultural nationalism.

I think it's useful in this context to compare the cases of Europe and India. Europe has basically three scripts in use: Roman, Cyrillic, and Greek. You only need two forms of the name (euro and ευρώ) on the sole legal tender of sixteen sovereign states. Compare that to the Indian rupee, the currency of a single sovereign state, which is labeled in no fewer than seventeen different languages. It's not because the word varies that much--all but three languages (Bengali, Oriya, and Assamese) use a form of rupayā--but because there's a strong tradition within India of every language being associated with a distinct version of the Brāhmī script.

Can you explain to me what advantages the Indian model has over the European model?
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-05-05, 17:54

Providing the language with its own distinct visual identity is a legitimate reason. That and a native script often suits the language in question better than a foreign-derived script would (though the reverse is also often true).

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2010-05-05, 19:07

Pangu wrote:
Rumpetroll wrote:It's the same bloody language, it doesn't matter what script you use nor does it matter who invented that script.

Do you seriously believe using different scripts will not cause change in the language and the culture?

Yes.
Compare the cultures of the Philippines, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Peru and Norway. Are they the same because they all write in Latin script?
How about the cultures of central Asian and Siberian peoples and Serbia?

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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby linguoboy » 2010-05-05, 19:33

Rumpetroll wrote:Compare the cultures of the Philippines, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Peru and Norway. Are they the same because they all write in Latin script?

That's the wrong question. The question is are the cultures of the Philippines any different because they use the Roman script than they would have been if they used, say, modified Chinese characters or Perso-Arabic script. And that's a harder question to answer, since it's inherently speculative.

I guess, though, we've got something of a real-life Gedankenexperiment going now that Cia-Cia has adopted Han'geul. Check in with them in a couple of generations and see if there are any systematic differences between them and the speakers of Lasalimu or Kumbewaha.
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Re: Your Thoughts on These Alternative Scripts

Postby mōdgethanc » 2010-05-05, 20:12

I guess, though, we've got something of a real-life Gedankenexperiment
Come now, that's just gratuitous.


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