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chū'nôm


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


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[Vietnamese chū' ‘writing’ + nôm ‘south’, ‘southern writing’] Chū'nôm is a vernacular writing system devised probably in the thirteenth century ce in Vietnam. The earliest known document is a stele discovered in Ho Thanh Son, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. The inscription dating from 1343 lists the names of 20 villages. Chū'nôm consists of modified Chinese characters ( figure 19 ). The adaptation of Chinese characters for writing Vietnamese followed three strategies ( table 11 ): 1  A character was used for the syllable it represented in Chinese, irrespective of its meaning, for a homophonous or phonetically similar Vietnamese word. For example, ‘to go’, pronounced hàng in southern Chinese, was adopted for Vietnamese hàang ‘line, order’. 2  A character was used for the meaning of the Chinese word it represented, but given a Vietnamese pronunciation. For example, stands for Chinese tǎ ‘to hit’. The Vietnamese word for ‘to hit’ is dánh , which thus became the new reading of this character. 3  Using elements of Chinese characters, new characters were formed that did not exist in Chinese. For example, to write the word an ‘to eat’ the character was formed, consisting of , pronounced an in southern Chinese, and , the character for ‘mouth’. The new character does not occur in Chinese. Table 11 The three adaptation strategies of chū'nôm for writing Vietnamese ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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