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Vietnam Language and Literature

Vietnam Language and Literature

Ethnic minority literatare


Most ethnic minority literature remains oral in nature, although a number of collections have been published over the years. Perhaps best known are the Black Thái epics Xóng chụ xôn xao and Khun Lú Náng Ủa, part of a valuable Thái literary legacy which embraces everything from histories and legends to riddles and humorous tales. The Tày and Nùng communities of the Việt Bắc developed their own version of the chữ nôm script from an early date and the literary heritage of the Tày in particular is also noteworthy, comprising as it does a range of epic poems (Nam Kim-Thị Đan, Lương Quân Bioóc Rốm), histories (Nùng Trí Cao, Nùng Văn Vân) and ancestral myths (Pú Luông-Già Cải), some of which date back to the 16th century. Folk tales and legends from both the Mường and the Dao ethnic minorities have also been preserved and published.
Six ethnic groups of Tây Nguyên (the central highlands) - the Malay-Polynesian Ê-đê, Ra-glai, Gia-rai and Ba-na and the Môn-Khmer Xơ-đăng and M ông - preserve a rich corpus of oral literature. These include the epic poems of the Ê-đê (Đam San, Đăm Kteh Mlan, Sing Nhã, Đam Di, Khing Juh, Đăm Thih), the Ra-glai (Uya Yuhea) and the Xơ-đăng (Dăm Giông), but perhaps best known is the Ốt NRông, a 30,000-verse M ông epic discovered in 1988 which surpasses the Ramayana, the Odyssey and even the Iliad in size. A 21 billion VNĐ (cUS$1.3 million) project launched in 2001 by the Việt Nam Academy of Social Sciences aims to survey, collect, document, translate, archive and publish the oral literature of the central highlands before it is lost.
In recent years the ethnic minority communities have produced numerous contemporary writers of note. Foremost amongst Việt Nams ethnic minority poets are Lò Văn Mười (b 1913, Thái ethnic group), Bàn Tài Đoàn (b 1913, Dao ethnic group), Cầm Biêu (b 1920, Thái ethnic group), Nông Quốc Chấn (b 1923, Tày ethnic group), Hoàng Nó (b 1925, Thái ethnic group), Nông Viết Toại (b 1926, Tày ethnic group), Lương Quý Nhân (1926-1996, Thái ethnic group), Lò Văn Cậy (b 1928, Thái ethnic group), Y Điệng (b 1928, Ê-đê ethnic group), Hùng Đình Quý (b 1938, Hmông ethnic group), Vương Trung (b 1938, Thái ethnic group), Nay Nô (b 1942, Gia Rai ethnic group), Lò Ngân Sủn (b 1945, Giáy ethnic group), Pờ Sảo Mìn (b 1946, Pa Dí ethnic group), Y Phương (Hứa Vĩnh Sước, b 1948, Tày ethnic group) and Inrasara (Phú Trạm, b 1957, Chăm ethnic group). The ethnic minority communities have also produced a handful of important prose writers, including Nông Minh Châu (1924-1979, Tày ethnic group), Ma Trường Nguyên (b 1944, Tày ethnic group) and Linh Nga Niêk Đăm (b 1948, Ê-đê ethnic group)

Classical chinese- Han languages
During the 1,000 years of Chinese rule over what is now northern Việt Nam, chữ Hán (classical Han Chinese, also known as chữ nho) became firmly established as the language of the Vietnamese royal court and would remain so until as late as 1918 when the ancient system of mandarin examinations was finally abolished.

The oldest extant literature written in chữ Hán comprises a corpus of 11th century poems written by Buddhist monks. By the 13th and 14th centuries poems in chữ Hán were written for the court by Confucian scholars such as Lê Quát (b?), Mạc Đỉnh Chi (d 1346), Trương Hán Siêu (d 1354), Chu Văn An (d 1370) and Nguyễn Trung Ngạn (1289-1370), along with important historical works such as Lê Văn Hưus Đại Việt Sử Ký (Brief History of Đại Việt) and a range of geographical and encyclopaedic volumes.

Chữ Nôm

From an early period a special ideographic script known as chữ nôm was also devised for transcribing spoken Vietnamese. According to annals dating from the late 13th century, the poets Nguyễn Thuyên and Nguyễn Sĩ Cố were the first to write in chữ nôm. At the turn of the century King Hồ Quý Ly (1400-1407) himself translated the Confucian classic Kinh Thi into nôm. Thereafter an increasingly large number of other works were composed in the new script.





Modern Literature 1945 - 1975

Prior to 1945 comparatively few southern writers had achieved recognition or success, but against a background of relative stability, prosperity and artistic freedom in the late 1950s and early 1960s a small but active literary scene began to emerge in South Việt Nam, initially under the influence of a circle of writers, linguists and educators who had relocated from the north.





Modern Literature since 1975

With national integrity finally secured in 1975, it was not long before the literary community began to explore in their work themes which had largely been set aside during the long struggle for self determination.

Modern Literature before 1945

The first real flowering of modern Vietnamese literature took place in the north under the influence of the romantic styles, themes and techniques of French literature.


Language and Scripts

Among the 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups some have had their own scripts for a long time and some have not preserved their ancient scripts. As a matter of fact, some ethnic groups consisting of some hundreds of individuals living in remote areas have their own languages.

More than 80% of the population speaks Vietnamese or Kinh/Viet Nam, the natinal language. Many ethnic minority people speak Kinh and their own native language.

Three scripts have influenced Viet Nam’s history:

* Chinese Han ideograms were used until the beginning of the 20th century

* The Nom script, created between the 11th and 14th centuries, was derived from Han script to transcrible the popupar national language

* European missionaries in the 17th century first developed quoc ngu, the Romanised transcription of the Vietnamese language used to this day.

Quoc Ngu

Modern Vietnamese literature finds its roots during the French colonial period, when popularisation of the romanised script quốc ngữ finally allowed it to break free from the restrictions of classical Chinese literature.

Originally devised by French Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes (1591-1660) as a means of propagating Roman Catholicism, quốc ngữ became a cornerstone of the French colonial educational system in the late 19th century and was initially rejected by Confucian scholars such as Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, who referred to quốc ngữ as he script of heretics. However, following the Duy Tân (Renovation) movement of 1907 Vietnamese intellectuals began to realise the potential value of quốc ngữ as a medium for disseminating patriotic and anti-colonial ideas.

As literacy gradually spread throughout the country, the development of modern printing methods facilitated the production of books, newspapers and magazines in quốc ngữ and both journalism and literature written in the romanised script began to flourish.

When To Travel To Vietnam

Good time to Travel in Vietnam is from September to June. However, Vietnam has three different regions – the North, the Central and the South – each with different weather patterns and different rainy seasons. This means that there is neither a best time nor a worst time to visit Vietnam. Hot summer or Cold winter is not that a big deal. Nice beaches such as Halong bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne - Phan Thiet or Phu Quoc Island are always available; Sapa and Dalat highlands offer great places for cool temperature. You can find your favourite kind of weather all year round for your next Vietnam Tours!

 

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