Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary

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Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary (Vietnamese : Từ Hán Việt, Chữ Nôm: 詞漢越 or Vietnamese : Hán Việt ngữ, Chữ Nôm: 漢越語, literally 'Sino-Vietnamese words') is a layer of words and morphemes of the Vietnamese language used from Vietnamese Literary Chinese with consistent pronunciations based on Middle Chinese. They comprise about a third of the modern Vietnamese lexicon, and may account for as much as 60% of the vocabulary used in formal texts. [1] However, in a loanword typology project utilizing a list of about 1,500 words, only 27% of Vietnamese vocabulary was shown to be directly from Chinese. [2] Together with Sino-Korean and Sino-Japanese vocabularies, Sino-Vietnamese has been used in the reconstruction of the sound categories of Middle Chinese. Samuel Martin (1953) grouped the three together as "Sino-xenic". There also an Old Sino-Vietnamese layer consisting of a few hundred words influenced from Chinese in earlier periods. These words are treated by speakers as native words.

Contents

Monosyllabic loanwords

As a result of a thousand years of Chinese control (except for brief rebellions), and a further thousand years of use of Literary Chinese after independence, two main layers of Chinese vocabulary have been borrowed into Vietnamese. These layers were first systematically studied by linguist Wang Li. [3] [4]

Middle Chinese and Vietnamese (like other nearby languages) are of analytic type, with almost all morphemes monosyllabic and lacking inflection. The phonological structure of their syllables is also similar. [5]

The Old Sino-Vietnamese layer was introduced after the Chinese conquest of the kingdom of Nanyue, including the northern part of Vietnam, in 111 BC. The influence of the Chinese language was particularly felt during the Eastern Han period (25–190 AD), due to increased Chinese immigration and official efforts to sinicize the territory. [6] This layer consists of roughly 400 words, which have been fully assimilated and are treated by Vietnamese speakers as native words. [7]

The much more extensive Sino-Vietnamese proper was introduced with Chinese rhyme dictionaries such as the Qieyun in the late Tang dynasty (618–907). Vietnamese scholars used a systematic rendering of Middle Chinese within the phonology of Vietnamese to derive consistent pronunciations for the entire Chinese lexicon. [8] After driving out the Chinese in 880, the Vietnamese sought to build a state on the Chinese model, including using Literary Chinese for all formal writing, including administration and scholarship, until the early 20th century. [9] Around 3,000 words entered Vietnamese over this period. [10] [11] Some of these were re-introductions of words borrowed at the Old Sino-Vietnamese stage, with different pronunciations due to intervening sound changes in Vietnamese and Chinese, and often with a shift in meaning. [8] [12]

Examples of multiply-borrowed Chinese words
Chinese
(Old > Middle)
Old Sino-VietnameseSino-Vietnamese
*mjəts > mjɨjHmùi 'smell, odor'vị 'flavor, taste' [13]
*pənʔ > pwonXvốn 'capital, funds'bản 'root, foundation' [13]
*wjek > ywekviệc 'work, event'dịch 'service, corvee' [13] [14]
*muks > mawH 'hat'mạo 'hat' [8]
*gre > giày 'shoe'hài 'shoe' [8]
*kras > kæHgả 'marry'giá 'marry' [8] [15]
*bjəʔ > bjuwXvợ 'wife' [lower-alpha 1] phụ 'woman' [8] [14]
*gjojʔ > gjweXcúi 'bow, prostrate oneself'quỳ 'kneel' [8]
*rijʔ > lejXlạy 'kowtow'lễ 'ceremony' [8]
*pjap > pjopphép 'rule, law'pháp 'rule, law' [8]
  1. Shorto considers vợ a native Vietnamese word, inherited from Proto-Mon-Khmer *(ʔ)boʔ "mother"; Haudricourt proposes that 婦 *bjəʔ's Old Sino-Vietnamese reflex is bụa in the compound goá bụa < Old Chinese 寡婦 kʷraːʔ-bjəʔ > Late Sino-Vietnamese quả phụ. [16] [17]

Wang Li followed Henri Maspero in identifying a problematic group of forms with "softened" initials g-, gi, d- and v- as Sino-Vietnamese loans that had been affected by changes in colloquial Vietnamese. Most scholars now follow André-Georges Haudricourt in assigning these words to the Old Sino-Vietnamese layer. [18]

Modern compounds

Until the early 20th century, Literary Chinese was the language of administration and scholarship, not only in China, but also in Vietnam, Korea and Japan, similar to Latin in medieval Europe. [19] Though not a spoken language, this shared written language was read aloud in different places according to local traditions derived from Middle Chinese pronunciation, the literary readings in various parts of China and Sino-Xenic pronunciations in the other countries.

As contact with the West grew, Western works were translated into Literary Chinese and read by the literate. In order to translate words for new concepts (political, religious, scientific, medical and technical terminology) scholars in these countries coined new compounds formed from Chinese morphemes and written with Chinese characters. The local readings of these compounds were readily adopted into the respective local vernaculars of Japan, Korea and Vietnam. For example, the Chinese mathematician Li Shanlan created hundreds of translations of mathematical terms, including 代數學 ("replace-number-study") for "algebra", yielding modern Chinese dài shùxué, Vietnamese đại số học, Japanese dai sūgaku and Korean dae suhak. [20] Often, multiple compounds for the same concept were in circulation for some time before a winner emerged, and sometimes the final choice differed between countries. [21]

A fairly large amount of Sino-Vietnamese have meanings that differ significantly from their usage in other Sinitic vocabularies. For example:

Some Sino-Vietnamese words are entirely invented by the Vietnamese and are not used in Chinese, such as linh mục (靈牧 "spiritual shepherd") for pastor, or giả kim thuật (假金術 "art of artificial metal"), which has been applied popularly to refer to "alchemy". Another example is linh cẩu (靈狗, "alert dog") meaning hyena. Others are no longer used in modern Chinese or have other meanings.

Proper names

Because Sino-Vietnamese provides a Vietnamese form for almost all Chinese characters, it can be used to derive a Vietnamese form for any Chinese name. For example, the name of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping consists of the Chinese characters 習近平. Applying a Sino-Vietnamese reading to each character in turn yields the Vietnamese name Tập Cận Bình.

Some Western names, approximated in Chinese (in some cases approximated in Japanese and then borrowed into Chinese), were further "garbled" in Vietnamese pronunciations. For example, Portugal is transliterated as Putaoya 葡萄牙 in Chinese, became Bồ Đào Nha in Vietnamese. England (Chinese: Ying-ge-lan) became Anh Cát Lợi (英吉利), shortened to Anh (), while United States became Mỹ Lợi Gia (美利加), shortened to Mỹ (). The official name for the United States in Vietnamese is Hoa Kỳ (花旗); this is a former Chinese name of the United States and translates literally as "flower flag".

CountryChinese nameVietnamese name
Australia 澳大利亞Úc(澳)
Austria 奧地利Áo(奧)
Belgium 比利時Bỉ(比)
Czechoslovakia 捷克斯洛伐克Tiệp Khắc(捷克)
France 法蘭西Pháp(法)
Germany 德意志Đức(德)
Italy 意大利Ý(意)
Prussia 普魯士Phổ(普)
Russia 俄羅斯Nga(俄)
Yugoslavia 南斯拉夫Nam Tư(南斯)

Except for the oldest and most deeply ingrained Sino-Vietnamese names, modern Vietnamese instead uses direct phonetic transliterations for foreign names, in order to preserve the original spelling and pronunciation. Today, the written form of such transliterated names are almost always left unaltered; with rising levels of proficiency in English spelling and pronunciation in Vietnam, readers generally no longer need to be instructed on the correct pronunciation for common foreign names. For example, while the Sino-Vietnamese Luân Đôn remains in common usage in Vietnamese, the English equivalent London is also commonplace. Calques have also arisen to replace some Sino-Vietnamese terms. For example, the White House is usually referred to as Nhà Trắng (literally, "white house") in Vietnam, though Tòa Bạch Ốc (based on 白宮) retains some currency among overseas Vietnamese.

However, China-specific names such as Trung Quốc (Middle Kingdom, 中國), as well as Korean names with Chinese roots, continue to be rendered in Sino-Vietnamese rather than the romanization systems used in other languages. Examples include Triều Tiên (Joseon, 朝鮮) for both Korea as a whole and North Korea in particular; Hàn Quốc (Hanguk, 韓國) for South Korea, and Bình Nhưỡng (Pyongyang, 平壤). Seoul, unlike most Korean place names, has no corresponding hanja; it is therefore phonetically transliterated as Xê-un.

Usage

Sino-Vietnamese words have a status similar to that of Latin-based words in English: they are used more in formal context than in everyday life. Because Chinese and Vietnamese use different order for subject and modifier, compound Sino-Vietnamese words or phrases might appear ungrammatical in Vietnamese sentences. For example, the Sino-Vietnamese phrase bạch mã (白馬 "white horse") can be expressed in Vietnamese as ngựa trắng ("horse white"). For this reason, compound words containing native Vietnamese and Sino-Vietnamese words are very rare and are considered improper by some. For example, chung cư ("apartment building") was originally derived from chúng cư眾居 ("(multiple dwelling"), but with the syllable chúng "multiple" replaced with chung, a "pure" Vietnamese word meaning "shared" or "together". Similarly, the literal translation of "United States", Hợp chúng quốc (合眾國) is commonly mistakenly rendered as Hợp chủng quốc, with chúng ( - many) replaced by chủng ( - ethnicity, race). Another example is tiệt diện ("cross-section") being replaced by tiết diện. This phenomenon is known as phonetic modulation.

Writing Sino-Vietnamese words with the Vietnamese alphabet causes some confusion about the origins of some terms, due to the large number of homophones in Chinese and Sino-Vietnamese. For example, both (bright) and (dark) are read as minh, thus the word "minh" has two contradictory meanings: bright and dark (although the "dark" meaning is now esoteric and is used in only a few compound words). Perhaps for this reason, the Vietnamese name for Pluto is not Minh Vương Tinh (冥王星 – lit. "underworld king star") as in other East Asian languages, but is Diêm Vương Tinh (閻王星), named after the Hindu and Buddhist deity Yama. During the Hồ Dynasty, Vietnam was officially known as Đại Ngu (大虞 "Great Peace"). However, most modern Vietnamese know ngu () as "stupid"; consequently, some misinterpret it as "Big Idiot". Conversely, the Han River in South Korea is often erroneously translated as sông Hàn () when it should be sông Hán () due to the name's similarity with the country name. However, the homograph/homophone problem is not as serious as it appears, because although many Sino-Vietnamese words have multiple meanings when written with the Vietnamese alphabet, usually only one has widespread usage, while the others are relegated to obscurity. Furthermore, Sino-Vietnamese words are usually not used alone, but in compound words, thus the meaning of the compound word is preserved even if individually each has multiple meanings.

Today Hán-Việt is learnt and used mostly only by Buddhist monks since important texts such as the scriptures to pacify spirits (recited during the ritual for the Seventh Lunar month - Trai Đàn Chẩn Tế) are still recited in traditional Hán-Việt.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Chinese is a group of language varieties that form the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, spoken by the ethnic Han Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in Greater China. About 1.2 billion people speak a variety of Chinese as their first language.

Vietnamese language Official language of Vietnam

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is by far the most spoken Austroasiatic language with over 70 million native speakers, many times more than Khmer, the next most spoken Austroasiatic language. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a second language or first language for other ethnic groups in Vietnam. As a result of emigration, Vietnamese speakers are also found in other parts of Southeast Asia, East Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.

Chinese characters Logographic writing system used in the Sinosphere region

Chinese characters, also called Hanzi, are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as kanji. Chinese characters are the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world. By virtue of their widespread current use in East Asia, and historic use throughout the Sinosphere, Chinese characters are among the most widely adopted writing systems in the world by number of users.

Classical Chinese Written form of Chinese until the early 20th century

Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese is the language of the classic literature from the end of the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese. Classical Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese that evolved from the classical language, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. Literary Chinese was used for almost all formal writing in China until the early 20th century, and also, during various periods, in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Among Chinese speakers, Literary Chinese has been largely replaced by written vernacular Chinese, a style of writing that is similar to modern spoken Mandarin Chinese, while speakers of non-Chinese languages have largely abandoned Literary Chinese in favor of their respective local vernaculars. Although languages have evolved in unique, different directions from the base of Literary Chinese, many cognates can be still found between these languages that have historically written in Classical Chinese.

Middle Chinese or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese recorded in the Qieyun, a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded editions. The Swedish linguist Bernard Karlgren believed that the dictionary recorded a speech standard of the capital Chang'an of the Sui and Tang dynasties. However, based on the more recently recovered preface of the Qieyun, most scholars now believe that it records a compromise between northern and southern reading and poetic traditions from the late Northern and Southern dynasties period. This composite system contains important information for the reconstruction of the preceding system of Old Chinese phonology.

Sino-Koreanvocabulary or Hanja refers to Korean words of Chinese origin. Sino-Korean vocabulary includes words borrowed directly from Chinese, as well as new Korean words created from Chinese characters. These terms are probably borrowed during the era of Literary Chinese in Korea. About 60 percent of Korean words are of Chinese origin; however, the percentage of Sino-Korean words in modern usage is estimated to be lower. Many words are often truncated, or altered and treated as native to the Korean language.

Old Chinese Oldest attested stage of Chinese

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Fanqie is a method in traditional Chinese lexicography to indicate the pronunciation of a monosyllabic character by using two other characters, one with the same initial consonant as the desired syllable and one with the same rest of the syllable . The method was introduced in the 3rd century AD and used in dictionaries and commentaries on the classics until the early 20th century.

Sino-Japanese vocabulary or kango refers to that portion of the Japanese vocabulary that originated in Chinese or has been created from elements borrowed from Chinese. Some grammatical structures and sentence patterns can also be identified as Sino-Japanese. Sino-Japanese vocabulary is referred to in Japanese as kango (漢語), meaning 'Chinese words'. Kango is one of three broad categories into which the Japanese vocabulary is divided. The others are native Japanese vocabulary and borrowings from other, mainly Western languages (gairaigo). It is estimated that approximately 60% of the words contained in a modern Japanese dictionary are kango, but they comprise only about 18% of words used in speech.

History of writing in Vietnam

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Classical compounds and neoclassical compounds are compound words composed from combining forms derived from classical Latin or ancient Greek roots. New Latin comprises many such words and is a substantial component of the technical and scientific lexicon of English and other languages, including international scientific vocabulary. For example, bio- combines with -graphy to form biography.

Sino-Xenic or Sinoxenic pronunciations are regular systems for reading Chinese characters in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, originating in medieval times and the source of large-scale borrowings of Chinese words into the Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese languages, none of which are genetically related to Chinese. The resulting Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean and Sino-Vietnamese vocabularies now make up a large part of the lexicons of these languages. The pronunciation systems are used alongside modern varieties of Chinese in historical Chinese phonology, particularly the reconstruction of the sounds of Middle Chinese. Some other languages, such as Hmong–Mien and Kra–Dai languages, also contain large numbers of Chinese loanwords but without the systematic correspondences that characterize Sino-Xenic vocabularies.

Wasei-kango are those words in the Japanese language composed of Chinese morphemes but invented in Japan rather than borrowed from China. Such terms are generally written using kanji and read according to the on'yomi pronunciations of the characters. While many words belong to the shared Sino-Japanese vocabulary, some kango do not exist in Chinese while others have a substantially different meaning from Chinese; however some words have been borrowed back to Chinese.

Korean mixed script

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Literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters Linguistic doublets typical of varieties of Chinese

Differing literary and colloquial readings for certain Chinese characters are a common feature of many Chinese varieties, and the reading distinctions for these linguistic doublets often typify a dialect group. Literary readings are usually used in loanwords, names, literary works, and in formal settings, while colloquial/vernacular readings are usually used in everyday vernacular speech.

Throughout history, there were many names used to refer to Vietnam.

Chữ Nôm Writing system for the Vietnamese language using Chinese characters

Chữ Nôm, in earlier times also called Chữ Nam (𡨸南) or Quốc Âm, is a traditional logographic writing system used to write the Vietnamese language. It uses classical Chinese characters to represent Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary and some native Vietnamese words, while new characters were created on the Chinese model to represent some other words.

Literary Chinese in Vietnam

Literary Chinese was the medium of all formal writing in Vietnam for almost all of the history of the country up to the early 20th century, when it was replaced by vernacular writing using the Latin-based Vietnamese alphabet.

Historically Vietnamese has two sets of numbers: one is etymologically native Vietnamese; the other uses Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary. In the modern language the native Vietnamese vocabulary is used for both everyday counting and mathematical purposes. The Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary is used only in fixed expressions or in Sino-Vietnamese words. This is somewhat analogous to the way in which Latin and Greek numerals are used in modern English. Sino-Vietnamese words are also used for units of ten thousand or above, where native vocabulary was lacking.

References

Citations

  1. DeFrancis (1977), p. 8.
  2. Alves 2009, p. 5.
  3. Hashimoto (1978), p. 5.
  4. Wang (1948).
  5. Enfield (2005), pp. 186–188.
  6. Alves (2009), pp. 624–625.
  7. Alves (2009), pp. 624, 628.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Alves (2009), p. 625.
  9. DeFrancis (1977), p. 14.
  10. Nguyễn (1997), p. 38.
  11. Alves (2009), p. 626.
  12. Hannas (1997), pp. 80–81.
  13. 1 2 3 Hannas (1997), p. 80.
  14. 1 2 Pulleyblank (1981), p. 284.
  15. Pulleyblank (1981), p. 282.
  16. Shorto (2006), p. 96.
  17. Haudricourt (2017), p. 23.
  18. Pulleyblank (1981), pp. 281–282.
  19. Nguyễn (1997), p. 37.
  20. Wilkinson (2000), p. 42.
  21. Wilkinson (2000), p. 43.
  22. Alves (2018).

Sources

Further reading