Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vietnamese language(越南语)

Vietnamese language(越南语,越语,京语,安南语) is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of the Vietnamese people (người Việt or người Kinh), who constitute 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese.

Historically, there are 3 types of languages in Vietnam:
1. Hán Việt(詞漢越,汉文,文言文) - Classic Chinese, mainly use officially by the upper class and the court, literature, and court examination.
2. Chữ nôm(喃字)- mainly used by ordinary people
3. Chữ Quốc Ngữ(国语字)- used after French colonization in 19th century, and only become popular in 20th century.

Ancient Time language
It seems likely that in the distant past, Vietnamese shared more characteristics common to other languages in the Austroasiatic family, such as an inflectional morphology and a richer set of consonant clusters, which have subsequently disappeared from the language. However, Vietnamese appears to have been heavily influenced by its location in the Southeast Asian sprachbund, with the result that it has acquired or converged toward characteristics such as isolating morphology and tonogenesis. These characteristics, which may or may not have been part of proto-Austroasiatic, nonetheless have become part of many of the phylogenetically unrelated languages of Southeast Asia; for example, Thai (one of the Kradai languages), Tsat (a member of the Malayo-Polynesian group within Austronesian), and Vietnamese each developed tones as a phonemic feature, although their respective ancestral languages were not originally tonal.[citation needed] Presently, Vietnamese has similarities with both Chinese and French due to the influence of the French invasion.(source:wikipedia)

How it was spread to other parts of Vietnam
The ancestor of the Vietnamese language was originally based in the area of the Red River in what is now northern Vietnam, and during the subsequent expansion of the Vietnamese language and people into what is now central and southern Vietnam (through conquest of the ancient nation of Champa and the Khmer people of the Mekong Delta in the vicinity of present-day Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), characteristic tonal variations have emerged.

Chinese influence: Hán Việt(詞漢越)
Vietnamese was linguistically influenced primarily by Chinese, which came to predominate politically in the 2nd century B.C. With the rise of Chinese political dominance came radical importation of Chinese vocabulary and grammatical influence. As Chinese was, for a prolonged period, the only medium of literature and government, as well as the primary written language of the ruling class in Vietnam, much of the Vietnamese lexicon in all realms consists of Hán Việt (Sino-Vietnamese, từ Hán Việt/詞漢越) words. In fact, as the vernacular language of Vietnam gradually grew in prestige toward the beginning of the second millennium, the Vietnamese language was written using Chinese characters (using both the original Chinese characters, called Hán tự, as well as a system of newly created and modified characters called Chữ nôm(喃字) adapted to write Vietnamese, in a similar pattern as used in Japan (kanji), Korea (hanja), and other countries in the Sinosphere. The Nôm writing reached its zenith in the 18th century when many Vietnamese writers and poets composed their works in Chữ Nôm, most notably Nguyễn Du(阮攸)and Hồ Xuân Hương (dubbed "the Queen of Nôm poetry").

Romanized Vietnamese Language
As contact with the West grew, the Quốc Ngữ system of Romanized writing(拉丁字母) was developed in the 17th century by Portuguese and other Europeans involved in proselytizing and trade in Vietnam. When France invaded Vietnam in the late 19th century, French gradually replaced Chinese as the official language in education and government. Vietnamese adopted many French terms, such as đầm (dame, from madame), ga (train station, from gare), sơ mi (shirt, from chemise), and búp bê (doll, from poupée). In addition, many Sino-Vietnamese terms were devised for Western ideas imported through the French. However, the Romanized script which is called did not come to predominate until the beginning of the 20th century, when education became widespread and a simpler writing system was found more expedient for teaching and communication. Chữ Quốc Ngữ(国语字)was found by a French Jesuit missionary , Alexandre de Rhodes 1591-1660(亚历山大·罗德, 越南文: A-Lịch-Sơn Đắc-Lộ).

Ironically, Vietnam had fear for Catholicism, and even today the current government imposed restriction on Catholic, and having unsolved issues including land acquisition,diplomatic relationship with Vatican. Despite the fear and their strong sentiment for decolonization, they are willing to adopt a language found by a Jrsuit missionary, which is with strong colonial background , as their national language. The act of Desinicization (去中国化),which is the act of the elimination of Chinese influence was strong, started from France colonization, when French become an administration language. Hán Việt(詞漢越)was disused by government, and reduced to language for classic literature. Chữ nôm(喃字)was only used for cultural and religion function. Romanized Vietnamese become popular during the French colonization, but only formally adopted as national language after independence from France. The weak relationship between China and Vietnam after the unification, Desinicization become stronger, Hán Việt & Chữ nôm become limited in its usage for religion and research only. Currently the language formerly used by the nation is only Chữ Quốc Ngữ(国语字),which is the national language for Vietnam.

1945年阮朝灭亡以及越南民主共和国的成立促使汉字和喃字的使用逐渐减少.19世纪下半叶以来,法国殖民者开始禁止阮朝官方文书汉文(文言文)的使用,并废除了1915年以及1918年至1919年的科举考试。汉字、汉文地位的降低,也导致了与汉字关系紧密的喃字的地位下降(DeFrancis 1977:179)。在20世纪上半叶,喃字和汉喃文逐渐没落,而法国殖民者推行的拼音化文字国语字和国语字文开始标准化并在越南通行。

现在的越南语使用拉丁字母书写,叫做国语字(Chữ Quốc Ngữ)。它是由17世纪到越南的法国传教士亚历山大·罗德(法文:Alexandre de Rhodes,越南文: A-Lịch-Sơn Đắc-Lộ),1591年-1660年)根据先前传教士的拼写原则的基础上整合而成。在19世纪法国占领越南时期,这种书写体系流行起来,并于20世纪全面开始使用。

Language policy

While spoken by the Vietnamese people , written Vietnamese did not become the official administrative language of Vietnam until the 20th century. For most of its history, the entity now known as Vietnam used written classical Chinese or Hán Việt for governing purposes, whereas written Vietnamese in the form of Chữ nôm was used for poetry and literature. It was also used for administrative purposes during the brief Ho and Tay Son Dynasties. During French colonialism, French superseded Chinese in administration. Quốc Ngữ , a romanized Vietnamese language was used.

It was not popular until independence from France that Romanized Vietnamese was used officially. It is now the language of instruction in schools and universities and the language for official business. It is the national language for Vietnam.

Alexander de Rhodes(1612-1660)- the father of Vietnamese Language(Quốc Ngữ)

The founder of the modern Vietnamese language, a romanized Vietnamese is not a local Vietnamese, but a foreigner, a French Jesuit missionary , Alexandre de Rhodes 1591-1660(亚历山大·罗德, 越南文: A-Lịch-Sơn Đắc-Lộ). The language is now called Quốc Ngữ (national language, 国语字)

Alexander de Rhodes was born in Avignon, France. He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Rome on 24 April 1612 to dedicate his life to missionary work. He arrived in Indochina about 1619. A Jesuit mission had been established in Hanoi in 1615; Rhodes arrived there in 1620. He spent ten years in and around the Court at Hanoi during the rule of Trinh Tung and Trinh Trang. While he was in Vietnam, he wrote the first Vietnamese Catechism and he published the first Portuguese-Latin-Vietnamese dictionary. This dictionary was later used widely by many Vietnamese scholars to create the new Vietnamese writing system, largely using the Roman alphabet - still used today and now called Quốc Ngữ (national language). Rhodes in his reports said he converted more than 6,000 Vietnamese, almost certainly an inflated number, but he nevertheless did win converts.
In 1624 he was sent to the East Indies starting in Cochin-China. In 1627 he travelled to Tongking, Vietnam where he worked until 1630, when he was forced to leave. He was expelled from Vietnam in 1630 as Trinh Trang became concerned about the dangers of the Catholic religion.
From Vietnam Rhodes went to Macau, where he spent ten years. He then returned to Vietnam, this time to the lands of the Nguyen Lords, mainly around Huế. He spent six years in this part until he aroused the displeasure of lord Nguyen Phuc Lan and was condemned to death. But his sentence was reduced to exile, Rhodes returned to Rome by 1649. He found Paris Foreign Missions Society in 1659, but Alexander de Rhodes himself was sent to Persia instead of back to Vietnam. Rhodes died in Isfahan, Persia in 1660.

Related articles:

1. 越南「去殖民化」與「去中國化」的語言政策, 蔣為文, 德州大學語言所
2. 越南语, 越南语
3. Vietnamese language,
4. Alves, Mark. (1999). "What's so Chinese about Vietnamese?", in Papers from the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. University of California, Berkeley.
5. Alexander de Rhodes,

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