The chữ name (字喃, literally “writing of the south”), still called Quốc ngữ 國語, Quốc âm 國音, Nam âm 南音 in the texts, was the writing Vietnamese not using the Hanzi Chinese (called hán tự in Vietnamese). This system logographic was the only means of noting Vietnamese until the 14th century, and was used only by the elites educated in Chinese. The chu name from now on almost completely disappeared from the Vietnam, replaced by a “romanisation” in Latin characters decorated the diacritic ones, the Quốc ngữ.
The chu name known at the origin under the name of quốc âm (國音, literally “pronunciation of the country”), was supposed to be appeared about the 10th century. The old name of Vietnam, Đại (Cồ) Việt, precisely used the quốc âm. The oldest trace of the chu name known to date is on a stele of the temple of Bao Ân and is gone back to 1209. Another inscription in chu name was found on a bell in Bronze in Do Sound. It is gone back to 1076, but the exactitude of this dating is prone to guarantee.
After the independence of Vietnam with respect to China in 939, the intellectuals started to develop to them sytème clean writing of the chu name, based on the Sinogramme S Chinese but representing Vietnamese (the two languages do not have anything indeed jointly). Starting from this date, and during almost 1.000 years, Vietnamese was noted quasi-exlusivement in chu name, that it are the literature, philosophy, the history, the laws, the edicts, etc During the 14 years of reign of the emperors Tây Sơn (1788-1802), all the administrative documents were written in chu name. At the 18th century, the majority of the large poets and writers wrote in chu name. With the invention at the 17th century of the Quôc ngu - a transcription based on the Latin alphabet - the chu name disappeared gradually. Moreover, in 1920, the colonial government promulga a decree against its use, with the profit of the quôc ngu. This phenomenon of disappearance evolved/moved at a point such as today, less than 100 specialists are able to usually read the chu name, with the result that 80 million Vietnamese speakers does not have access to the written history of Vietnam. Some buddhist monks, as well as the Jing (Vietnamese exiled in China) are able to decipher overall a text in chu name.
Efforts of the Vietnamese government were made to give again a place with the chu name in the education system. The characters suitable for the chu name were integrated into the standard Unicode, and of the software were conceived to type in chu name. The police forces the container were developed only recently.
The sinogrammes were used in the beginning to note exclusively the chữ nho (of the traditional Chinese ). The chu name extended the use of these characters in various ways, just as new sinogrammes were created, following the example Kokuji with the Japan.
There exist several types of structures which one can subdivide in several categories.
Simple loans (chữ vay mượn đơn)
a. Phonetics (of characters with identical or approximate pronunciation): identical or modified (morphologiquement simplified): 卒 (tốt=bon, of quality), 意 (ấy=ce… there), (ấy=ce… there) b. Semantic (of characters with generally identical direction): identical or modified (morphologiquement simplified): 蓮 (sen=lotus), 爫 (làm=faire),…
Made up characters (chữ tự tạo)
a. of two natures (or elements) semantic: 𡗶 (trời=ciel, God), Ƴ (trùm=chef, pontiff, tycoon). ; b. of two natures (or elements) phonetic: 𢁋 (trăng=lune),… c. of two characters (or elements) semantic and phonetic: 𠫾 (đi=aller, to go), 𡎢 (ngồi), 唭 (cười=rire, to smile) d. of a semantic or phonetic nature and a differentiating sign (two standards known as dấu nháy and dấu cá): 叨 (đeo=porter during), 𡀬 (tủi=se to feel humiliated; appitoyer on oneself),…
NB: The characters of (A) are very limited. Those of (b) are limited and seem to relate to only the words old with initial doubles: bl-, Tl, ml,… The characters of (c) are, with the simple phonetic loans, most current. For the moment, it is difficult to affirm that there exist also characters made up of more than two elements. The borrowed, semantic or phonetic characters, employees alone or combined, can be the subject of a simplification by suppression of whole part. This is all the more true for the made up characters where the too great number of features leads with the simplification and the suppression of parts.
Many terms were borrowed such as they are in Vietnamese, and are written with the sinogramme which was used to note the term of origin in Chinese. For example: 味 vị " goût" (in Mandarin wèi), 年 niên " année" (in Mandarin nián). Moreover, one raises of many words lexiconized Vietnamese before even the introduction of the hán tự, and which consequently preserved a more antiquated pronunciation. These terms are also noted with the sinogramme corresponding in traditional Chinese. Examples: 味 mùi (equivalent with vị, taste), 年 năm (equivalent with niên, year).
An significant amount of Vietnamese words are noted by sinogrammes whose direction does not correspond, but are used in a phonetic way (like the Ateji Japanese): they are the chữ giả tá (字假借), " words emprunté". These characters have only one phonetic value, their original significance not being taken into account. That made that these characters take a new direction, even several significances which become to them clean.
Inventions of characters
Many new symbols were invented to note Vietnamese terms (in a way similar to the Kokuji Japanese): they are the chữ thuần name, “symbols suitable for the Name”. These new logogrammes is often Idéo-sound record S, i.e. characters borrowed for their pronunciation to which one adds a radical allowing a new semantic analysis, forming consequently a new character. In certain cases, there existed already in Chinese a character similar to that created but with a different direction.
( part of this text was translated of a text gotten by the Name Foundation Safeguarding under GFDL )
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