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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HistoryCulture

Did the French Colonisation of Vietnam effect the language

Did the 18th Century French Colonisation of Vietnam effect / influence its language?

August 13, 2016

17 Comments

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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ckhadung

With a population that used French as administrative language before 1945, French definitely had an impact on modern Vietnamese. For instance, lots of Vietnamese words nowadays are of French origin: va li (valise), bò (buerre), ri-đô (rideau), búp bê (poupée), cà vạt (cravate), xà bông (savon), xiếc (cirque)....

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki_Nguyen

There are many more. That can be explained that before the French, we did not have those objects in our country. When the French brought them to Vietnam, we had not had the words for them, or had not known what are they and how are they called, apparently we started to call them by the French words. I would know some words came from French but don't know what they exactly are, for example: ghi đông, gác ba ga, pê đan (pedal - this one is from English haha), xích măng tơ, cát sét, etcetera ^^

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TehVanarch

You mean bơ* :) The impact was largely in a few hundred words as the grammar of Vietnamese remains intact.

August 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

Yes. Our written language was more like Chinese. Then a french missionary used the french alphabets to write down our sounds. He added a couple of accents. So in a way Vietnamese should be the easiest language to learn because it's written exactly as it sounds. All you have to learn is the sound of individual letters and from there you can figure out how to pronounce every word.

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki_Nguyen

Thanks the French for that. I would never be able to remember Chinese characters T___T

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ckhadung

Why is that a bad thing?

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki_Nguyen

If we had to use the Chinese writing system, I personally think it's really difficult to me to read and write. I tried the Japanese once and gave up after finished the hiragana and katakana letters. Just my mind couldn't cope with that complex kanji :(

August 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

Actually if Duo teaches chữ Nho, I would learn it. It is uniquely ours, and it's a shame we let it die out.

August 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aki_Nguyen

I thought it was originally from China :) Anyway, it is too difficult for me ^^ I feel much better with the alphabet !

August 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TehVanarch

I'm proud to say that I can read and write Hán-Nôm to a decent level. To the average person Nôm might as well be Chinese but I've had Chinese people attempt to read Nôm and they get super confused, some even asking whether or not I'm "making up" words lol.

August 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

I misspoke. I meant chữ Nôm.

Chữ Hán (chữ Nho) is very much Chinese, but when we declared our independence from China, we created our own writing system: chữ Nôm. Unfortunately it looks just like Chinese. Both Truyện Kiều and Lục Vân Tiên were written in chữ Nôm.

August 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageButcher

@TehVanarch That's great to hear. How long did it take you to learn chữ Nôm? and why did you decide to learn it? Glad that it doesn't quite die out with our generation yet.

August 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TehVanarch

A writing system is not the spoken form. The French imparted a few hundred "words" of which only a few dozen are used colloquially. The romanisation of Vietnamese started in the 1600s well before the French actually colonised Vietnam by the way (in the mid to late 1800s). The writing system of Vietnamese acts as a bridge between dialects and there is no living dialect that pronounces words exactly as they are recorded. Also I'm confused as to why you think just because a language supposedly is written how it sounds is to be "the easiest language" to hypothetically learn. That completely discounts all other factors like grammar, for instance.

August 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/legatrix

I highly recommend "Colonialism and Language Policy in Viet Nam" by John DeFrancis (1977). University libraries should have it. DeFrancis was a highly knowledgeable sinologist, and, though he was far from fluent in Vietnamese, had his interest sufficiently piqued by the history of external influences on the language to write a whole book on the subject! And very good it is too, especially for references.

October 24, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HistoryCulture

oh, thanks! I am not at Uni yet, but I hope they'd be a PDF online :)

October 24, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/legatrix

I doubt it unfortunately. These mid-twentieth century books often haven't been scanned, being too new for the usual haunts like archive.org or Google Books.

October 24, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/legatrix

While I think of it, a very nice recent book is 'Từ ngoại lai trong tiếng Việt' by GS. Nguyễn Văn Khang (2013). It contains a 72-page chapter on 'Từ mượn tiếng Pháp trong tiếng Việt' ('French loanwords in Vietnamese'). The coverage goes beyond the usually cited words to spelling variants of more obscure words and phrases:

jaquette: giắc-két / giá-két / jắc-ket

je m'en fous: mo-phú / măng-phú / moong-phú

It also has extensive information on what happens to specific French graphemes, phonemes, and phoneme clusters in Vietnamese:

gr: giữ nguyên hoặc chuyển thành c, r, gh hoặc thêm ơ ở giữa. Cụ thể:

  • Chuyển thành c. Ví dụ: grenadine: ca-la-đi-nơ.
  • Bỏ r giữ g. Ví dụ: gratuit: ga-tuýt, gramme: gam.
  • Bỏ g chuyển thành r. Ví dụ: grippé: ríp-phê.
  • Bỏ r chuyển thành gh. Ví dụ. grille: ghi. […]

Vietnamese natives may object that some or most of these items are not commonly used. However, the point was not to list commonly used vocabulary, but rather to give an idea of the lesser-known yet extensive ways in which French vocabulary was or is at least theoretically available to Vietnamese speakers.

October 24, 2016
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