CHữ NôM (字喃, IPA: , literally Southern characters, in
earlier times also called 國音 "quốc âm" or 𡨸南 "chữ nam")
is a logographic writing system formerly used to write the Vietnamese
language . It used the standard set of classical
Although formal writing in Vietnam was done in literary Chinese (Vietnamese: cổ văn 古文 or văn ngôn 文言 ) until the early 20th century (except for two brief interludes), chữ Nôm was widely used between the 15th and 19th centuries by Vietnam's cultured elite, including women, for popular works, many in verse. One of the best-known pieces of Vietnamese literature, The Tale of Kiều , was composed in chữ Nôm.
In the 1920s, the Latin-based
Vietnamese alphabet displaced chữ
Nôm as the preferred way to record Vietnamese. Although chữ Nôm is
today only taught at the university level within the Vietnamese
education system, the characters are still used for decorative,
historic and ceremonial value and symbols of good luck. The task of
preservation and study of Vietnamese texts written in Nôm (but also
classical Chinese texts from Vietnam) is conducted by the Institute of
Hán-Nôm Studies in
* 1 Etymology * 2 Terminology
* 3 History
* 4 Texts * 5 Syntax
* 6 Characters
* 6.1 Borrowed characters * 6.2 Locally invented characters * 6.3 Most common characters * 6.4 Standardization
* 7 Computer encoding * 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 Further reading
* 12 External links
* 12.1 Software * 12.2 Fonts
The Vietnamese word chữ (character) is derived from the Old Chinese
word 字, meaning ‘character’. The word Nôm in chữ Nôm means
‘Southern’, it is derived from the
There are many ways to write the name chữ Nôm in chữ Nôm characters: 字喃，𫳘（⿰字宁）喃，𪧚（⿰字守）喃，𡨸喃，茡喃，芓喃，𫿰（⿰字文）喃，𡦂喃，佇喃，宁喃 字諵，𫳘（⿰字宁）諵，𪧚（⿰字守）諵，𡨸諵，茡諵，芓諵，𫿰（⿰字文）諵，𡦂諵，佇諵，宁諵
Main article: History of writing in Vietnam
Hán Nôm (漢喃 ‘Han and chữ Nôm characters’) in
Vietnamese designates the whole body of Vietnamese premodern written
materials, either written in Chinese (chữ hán) or in Vietnamese
(chữ Nôm). Hán and Nôm could also be found in the same document
side by side, for example, in the case of translations of books on
The term chữ quốc ngữ (𡨸國語 "national language script") refers to the romanized writing system based on the Vietnamese alphabet .
A page from Tự Đức Thánh Chế Tự Học Giải Nghĩa Ca (嗣德聖製字學解義歌), a 19th-century primer for teaching Vietnamese children Chinese characters. The work is attributed to Emperor Tự Đức , the 4th Emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty. In this primer, chữ Nôm is used to gloss the Chinese characters, for example, 𡗶 is used to gloss 天.
Vietnamese scholars were thus intimately familiar with Chinese
writing. In order to record their native language, they applied the
structural principles of
The use of
The oldest surviving objects with chữ Nôm inscriptions are a stele (1209) at Bảo Ân temple containing 18 characters naming villages and people, and a stele at Hộ Thành Sơn in Ninh Bình Province (1343), listing 20 villages.
The first literary writing in Vietnamese is said to have been an incantation in verse composed in 1282 by the Minister of Justice Nguyễn Thuyên and thrown into the Red River to expel a menacing crocodile . The oldest Nom text that is still extant is the collected poetry of Emperor Trần Nhân Tông written in the 13th century.
Hồ DYNASTY (1400–07) AND MING CONQUEST (1407–27)
During the seven years of the
Hồ dynasty (1400–07) Classical
Chinese was discouraged in favor of vernacular Vietnamese written in
chữ Nôm, which became the official script. The emperor Hồ Quý Ly
even ordered the translation of the
Book of Documents
During the Ming dynasty occupation of Vietnam , chữ Nôm printing blocks, texts and inscriptions were thoroughly destroyed; as a result the earliest surviving texts of chữ Nôm post-date the occupation.
Lê (1428–1788), TâY SơN (1788–1802) AND NGUYễN DYNASTIES (1802–1945)
A page from the bilingual dictionary Nhật dụng thường đàm (1851). Characters representing words in Hán (Chinese) are explained in Nôm (Vietnamese).
Among the earlier works in Nôm of this era are the writings of Nguyễn Trãi (1380–1442). The corpus of Nôm writings grew over time as did more scholarly compilations of the script itself. Trịnh Thị Ngọc Trúc , consort of King Lê Thần Tông , is generally given credit for Chỉ nam ngọc âm giải nghĩa (the Explication of the Guide to Jeweled Sounds), a 24,000-character bilingual Han-to-Nom dictionary compiled between the 15th and 18th centuries, most likely in 1641 or 1761.
While almost all official writings and documents continued to be written in classical Chinese until the early 20th century, Nôm was the preferred script for literary compositions of the cultural elites. Nôm reached its golden period with the Nguyễn Dynasty in the 19th century as it became a vehicle for diverse genres, from novels to theatrical pieces, and instructional manuals. Apogees of Vietnamese literature emerged with Nguyễn Du 's The Tale of Kiều and Hồ Xuân Hương 's poetry. Although literacy in premodern Vietnam was limited to just 3 to 5 percent of the population, nearly every village had someone who could read Nom aloud for the benefit of other villagers. Thus these Nôm works circulated orally in the villages, making it accessible even to the illiterates.
In 1838, Jean-Louis Taberd compiled a Nom dictionary, helping with the standardization of the script. In 1867, Catholic scholar Nguyễn Trường Tộ made the bold move to petition the Emperor Tự Đức to adopt Nôm as the official script. The court failed to make a break with chu Nho but Nôm did gain some sanction as Quốc Âm, i.e. the national speech.
FRENCH INDOCHINA AND THE LATIN ALPHABET
From the latter half of the 19th century onwards, the French colonial authorities discouraged or simply banned the use of classical Chinese, and promoted the use of the Vietnamese alphabet, which they viewed as a stepping stone toward learning French. Language reform movements in other Asian nations stimulated Vietnamese interest in the subject. Following the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, Japan was increasingly cited as a model for modernization. The Confucian education system was compared unfavorably to the Japanese system of public education. According to a polemic by writer Phan Châu Trinh , "so-called Confucian scholars" lacked knowledge of the modern world, as well as real understanding of Han literature. Their degrees showed only that they had learned how to write characters, he claimed.
The popularity of Hanoi's short-lived
Tonkin Free School suggested
that broad reform was possible. In 1910, the colonial school system
adopted a "Franco-Vietnamese curriculum", which emphasized French and
alphabetic Vietnamese. The teaching of
The decline of the Chinese script also led to the decline of chữ
Nôm given that Nôm and
* Đại Việt sử ký tiệp lục tổng tự. This history of Vietnam was written during the Tây Sơn Dynasty . The original is Han, and there is also a Nom translation. * Nguyễn Du, The Tale of Kieu (1820) * Nguyễn Trãi, Quốc âm thi tập ("National Language Poetry Compilation") * Phạm Đình Hồ, Nhật Dụng Thường Đàm (1851). A Han-to-Nom dictionary for Vietnamese speakers. * Nguyễn Đình Chiểu , Lục Văn Tiên (19th century) * Đặng Trần Côn , Chinh Phụ Ngâm Khúc (18th century) * Hồ Xuân Hương (18th century) female poet
The syntax of nôm naturally follows Vietnamese grammar not Chinese grammar . For example, in nôm texts the Trịnh lords (1545–1787) are Chúa Trịnh (chữ Nôm: 主鄭) not as in Sino-Vietnamese Trịnh vương (chữ Hán: 鄭王). Here the character used (lord in Vietnamese, king in Chinese) is also different, but the difference in syntax is that in Vietnamese the noun "lord" precedes the name, whereas in Chinese "king" follows the name.
A similar example, in Vietnamese Truyện Kiều (傳翹, lit. "Tale of Kiều") the word "tale" precedes the name, but in Chinese syntax "tale" (truyện 傳) should follow the name Kiều. The nôm term "chữ Nôm" itself is an example of this. In Vietnamese nôm syntax the noun "script" (𡨸) precedes "Southern" (喃), whereas in chữ Hán the order is reversed and a purely Chinese chữ Hán character used instead of the locally created Chữ (chữ Hán: 喃字). Similarly with gods and heroes; the syntax of the popular name Thánh Gióng (聖容) differes from his chữ Hán name Phù Đổng Thiên Vương (扶董天王); the nôm name Mẫu Thoải (母水), has a Vietnamese syntax while her chữ Hán name Thủy cung Thánh Mẫu (水宮聖母) exhibits Chinese syntax. The official Chinese Tên chữ and vernacular Tên nôm for village names may also have different syntax as well as different characters.
Chinese poems translated into Nôm could retain more Chinese syntax and poetic forms than those translated into Korean or Japanese. Though as literature in Nôm developed it increasingly freed itself from Chinese syntax.
In chữ Nôm, each monosyllabic word of Vietnamese was represented by a character, either borrowed from Chinese or locally created. There was no development of a syllabary like Japanese kana or Korean hangul ; in part due to the analytic nature of Vietnamese as opposed to the agglutinative morphology of Japanese and Korean .
A large proportion of Vietnamese vocabulary had been borrowed from Chinese from the Tang period. Such Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary could be written with the original Chinese character for each word, for example:
* 役 dịch ("service", "corvee"), from Early
To represent a native Vietnamese word, one method was to use a Chinese character for a Chinese word with a similar meaning. For example, 本 may also represent vốn ("capital, funds"). When a character would have two readings, a diacritic may be added to the character to indicate the "indigenous" reading. Thus when 本 is meant to be read as vốn, it is written as 本㆑, with a diacritic at the upper right corner. In this case the word vốn is actually an earlier Chinese loan that has become accepted as Vietnamese; William Hannas claims that all such readings are similar early loans.
Alternatively, a native Vietnamese word could be written using a Chinese character for a Chinese word with a similar sound, regardless of the meaning of the Chinese word. For example, 沒 (Early Middle Chinese /mət/ ) may represent the Vietnamese word một ("one").
To draw an analogy to the
Japanese writing system
LOCALLY INVENTED CHARACTERS
This is the Nom character for phở , a popular soup made from
rice noodles. It is added to the
In contrast to the few hundred Japanese kokuji and handful of Korean gukja , which are mostly rarely used characters for indigenous natural phenomena, Vietnamese scribes created thousands of new characters, used throughout the language.
As in the Chinese writing system itself, the most common kind of invented character in Nom is the phono-semantic compound, made by combining two characters or components, one suggesting the word's meaning and the other its approximate sound. For example,
* 𠀧 (ba "three") is composed of the phonetic part 巴 (Sino-Vietnamese reading: ba) and the semantic part 三 "three". "Father" is also ba, but written as 爸 (⿱父巴), while "turtle" is con ba ba (昆蚆蚆; ⿰虫巴). * 媄 (mẹ "mother") has 女 "woman" as semantic component and 美 (Sino-Vietnamese reading: mỹ) as phonetic component.
A smaller group consists of semantic compound characters, which are
composed of two
A few characters were obtained by modifying Chinese characters related either semantically or phonetically to the word to be represented. For example,
* the Nôm character 𧘇 (ấy "that', "those") is a simplified form of the Chinese character 衣 (Sino-Vietnamese reading: ý). * the Nôm character 爫 (làm "work", "labour") is a simplified form of the Chinese character 濫 (Sino-Vietnamese reading: lạm) (濫 > 氵爫 > 爫). * the Nôm character 𠬠 (một ‘one’) comes from the right part of the Chinese character 没 (Sino-Vietnamese reading: một).
In Korea and Japan, the traditional writing system was simplified so it could be taught to the general public. Vietnam's educated class looked down on Nom as inferior to Han, so they were not interested in doing the work required to turn Nom into a form of writing suitable for mass communication. Like Chinese, Vietnamese is a tonal language and has nearly 5,000 distinct syllables. Neither the Korean nor the Japanese writing systems indicate tones, so they cannot be applied to the Vietnamese language.
MOST COMMON CHARACTERS
The website chunom.org gives a frequency table of the 586 most common characters in Nom literature. According to this table, the most common 50 characters are as follows, with the modern spelling given in italics:
* 羅 là to be * 吧 và and * 各 các each; every * 没 một one * 固 có there is * 𧵑 của of * 得 được to get, to obtain * 𥪝 trong in * 𤄯 trong clear * 𠊛 (or 𠊚) người people * 忍 những (plural marker) * 學 học to learn * 如 như as * 詞 từ word * 會 hội, gọi to meet, to call * 咍 hay or, good * 空 không not * 体 thể body, able * 四 tư four * 拱 cũng also * 𠇍 với, mấy with, some * 朱 cho to give * 社 xã society, company * 尼 này, nơi this, place * 底 để to place * 關 quan frontier, barrier, gate * 觀 quan to see * 場 trường school * 本 bản, vốn, composition, financial capital * 𧗱 về to return; about * 經 kinh classic works, sutra * 行 hàng, hãng, hành, hạnh company, firm * 航 hàng sail; navigate * 産 sản, sẵn to give birth, to be prepared * 𠚢 ra to get out * 世 thế world; era * 替 thế to replace * 勢 thế position, power; like that, so * 常 thường frequent; common, normal, usual * 事 sự matter; event * 妬 đó there; that * 濟 té to splash * 頭 đầu head; top (of a multitude) * 投 đầu to throw, to send * 𦓡 mà but * 恪 khác another, different; further * 一 nhất first * 旦 đến arrive, reach * 家 nhà home, house; family.
In 1867, the reformist Nguyễn Trường Tộ proposed a standardization of chữ Nôm (along with the abolition of classical Chinese), but the new system, what he called quốc âm Hán tự (國音漢字 lit. "Han characters with national pronunciations"), was rejected by Emperor Tự Đức. To this date, chữ Nôm has never been officially standardized. As a result, a Vietnamese word can be represented by variant Nôm characters. For example, the very word chữ ("character", "script"), a Chinese loan word, can be written as either 字 (Chinese character), 𡦂 (invented character, "compound-semantic") or 𡨸 (invented character, "semantic-phonetic"). For another example, the word béo ("fat", "greasy") can be written either as 脿 or . Both characters are invented characters with a semantic-phonetic structure, the difference being the phonetic indicator (表 vs. 報).
From 2013, Han-Nom Revival Committee of Vietnam, an internet-based organization has started its standardization work for Chữ Hán Nôm . Aiming at both chữ Nôm and Chữ Hán standardization, the Committee's "Chữ Hán Nôm Standardization Project " is designed to determine the Standard chữ Nôm among many variant Nôm characters, to confirm the usage of chữ Nôm and Chữ Hán in Pure Vietnamese words, Sino-Vietnamese words (especially Vietnamese-made Sino-Vietnamese words), and Hybrid words, as well as to determine the chữ Nôm and Chữ Hán characters in Loan words for phonetic transliteration. Till 2015, based on discussions among many specialists of Chữ Hán Nôm, around 500 frequently-used Chữ Hán Nôm are determined and published on its website.
In 1993, the Vietnamese government released an 8-bit coding standard
for alphabetic Vietnamese (TCVN 5712:1993, or VSCII), as well as a
16-bit standard for Nom (TCVN 5773:1993). This group of glyphs is
referred to as "V0." In 1994, the
Ideographic Rapporteur Group agreed
to include Nom characters as part of
CODE CHARACTERS UNICODE BLOCK STANDARD DATE V SOURCE SOURCES
V0 2,246 Basic Block (593), A (138), B (1,515) TCVN 5773:1993 2001 V0-3021 to V0-4927 5
V1 3,311 Basic Block (3,110), C (1) TCVN 6056:1995 1999 V1-4A21 to V1-6D35 2, 5
V2 3,205 Basic Block (763), A (151), B (2,291) VHN 01:1998 2001 V2-6E21 to V2-9171 2, 5
V3 535 Basic Block (91), A (19), B (425) VHN 02:1998 2001 V3-3021 to V3-3644 Manuscripts
V4 785 (encoded) Extension C Defined as sources 1, 3, and 6 2009 V4-4021 to V4-4B2F 1, 3, 6
V04 1,028 Extension E Unencoded V4 and V6 characters Projected V04-4022 to V04-583E V4: 1, 3, 6; V6: 4, manuscripts
V5 ~900 Proposed in 2001, but already coded 2001 None 2, 5
SOURCES: Nguyễn Quang Hồng, "Unibook Character Browser," Unicode,Inc., "Code Charts - CJK Ext. E" (N4358-A).
Characters were extracted from the following sources:
* Hoàng Triều Ân, Tự điển chữ Nôm Tày , 2003. * Institute of Linguistics, Bảng tra chữ Nôm , Hanoi, 1976. * Nguyễn Quang Hồng, editor, Tự điển chữ Nôm , 2006. * Father Trần Văn Kiệm, Giúp đọc Nôm và Hán Việt , 2004. * Vũ Văn Kính ">吧 ⿰口巴 ba ba
U+5427 V0-3122 G0,J,KP,K,T
傷 ⿰亻⿱𠂉昜 thương thương to love U+50B7 V1-4C22 G1,J,KP,K,T
𠊛 ⿰㝵人 người ngại (碍) people U+2029B V2-6E4F None
㤝 ⿰忄充 suông song to become interested in U+391D V3-313D G3,KP,K,T
𫋙 ⿰虫強 càng cường (強) claw, pincer U+2B2D9 V4-536F None
𫡯 ⿰朝乙 giàu trào (朝) wealth U+2B86F V4-405E None
KEY: G0 = China ( GB 2312 ); G1 = China (GB 12345); G3 = China (GB 7589); GHZ = Hanyu Da Zidian ; J = Japan; KP= North Korea; K = South Korea; T = Taiwan. SOURCES: Unihan Database, Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation, "Code Charts - CJK Ext. E" (N4358-A). The Han-Viet readings are from Hán Việt Từ Điển.
The characters that do not exist in Chinese have Han-Viet readings
that are based on the characters given in parenthesis. The common
character for càng (強) contains the radical 虫 (insects). This
radical is added redundantly to create 𫋙, a rare variation shown in
the chart above. The character 𫡯 (giàu) is specific to the Tay
people. It has been part of the
* Vietnam portal * Languages portal
* ^ The character is part of the proposed set for Extension E. See "Code Charts - CJK Ext. E", (N4358-A), JTC1/SC2/WG2, Oct. 10, 2012, p. 5. The V Source code is V04-5055. * ^ The character 媄 is also used in Chinese as an alternate form of 美 "beautiful".
* ^ Nguyễn, Khuê (2009). Chữ Nôm: cơ sở và nâng cao.
Nhà xuất bản Đại học Quốc gia Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh.
* ^ Nguyễn, Tri Tài (2002). Giáo trình tiếng Hán. Tập I:
Cơ sở. Nhà xuất bản Đại học Quốc gia Thành phố Hồ
Chí Minh. p. 5.
* ^ Nguyễn, Tài Cẩn (1995). Giáo trình lịch sử ngữ âm
tiếng Việt (sơ thảo). Nhà xuất bản Giáo dục. p. 47.
* ^ Nguyễn, Khuê (2009). Chữ Nôm: cơ sở và nâng cao.
Nhà xuất bản Đại học Quốc gia Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh.
pp. 5, 215.
* ^ Vũ, Văn Kính (2005). Đại tự điển chữ Nôm. Nhà
xuất bản Văn nghệ Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh. pp. 293, 899.
* ^ Nguyễn, Hữu Vinh; Đặng, Thế Kiệt; Nguyễn, Doãn
Vượng; Lê, Văn Đặng; Nguyễn, Văn Sâm; Nguyễn, Ngọc
Bích; Trần, Uyên Thi (2009). Tự điển chữ Nôm trích dẫn.
Viện Việt-học. pp. 248, 249, 866.
* ^ Nguyễn, Tài Cẩn (2001). Nguồn gốc và quá trình
hình thành cách đọc Hán Việt. Nhà xuất bản Đại học
quốc gia Hà Nội. p. 16.
* ^ Hội Khai-trí tiến-đức (1954). Việt-nam tự-điển.
Văn Mới. pp. 141, 228.
* ^ Đào, Duy Anh (2005). Hán-Việt từ-điển giản yếu.
Nhà xuất bản Văn hoá Thông tin. p. 281.
* ^ Hội Khai-trí tiến-đức (1954). Việt-nam tự-điển.
Văn Mới. p. 228.
* ^ Đào, Duy Anh (2005). Hán-Việt từ-điển giản yếu.
Nhà xuất bản Văn hoá Thông tin. pp. 281, 900.
* ^ Trần, Văn Chánh (January 2012). "Tản mạn kinh nghiệm
học chữ Hán cổ". Suối Nguồn, tập 3&4. Nhà xuất bản
Tổng hợp Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh: 82.
* ^ Asian research trends: a humanities and social science review -
No 8 to 10 - Page 140 Yunesuko Higashi Ajia Bunka Kenkyū Sentā
(Tokyo, Japan) - 1998 "Most of the source materials from premodern
Vietnam are written in Chinese, obviously using Chinese characters;
however, a portion of the literary genre is written in Vietnamese,
using chu nom. Therefore, han nom is the term designating the whole
body of premodern written materials.."
* ^ Vietnam Courier 1984 Vol20/21 Page 63 "Altogether about 15,000
books in Han, Nom and Han—Nom have been collected. These books
include royal certificates granted to deities, stories and records of
deities, clan histories, family genealogies, records of cutsoms, land
* ^ Khắc Mạnh Trịnh, Nghiên cứu chữ Nôm: Kỷ yếu
Hội nghị Quốc tế về chữ Nôm Viện nghiên cứu Hán
Nôm (Vietnam), Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation - 2006 "The Di
Hán Nôm notes 366 entries which are solely on either medicine
or pharmacy; of these 186 are written in Chinese, 50 in Nôm, and 130
in a mixture of the two scripts. Many of these entries ... Vietnam
were written in either Nôm or Hán-Nôm rather than in 'pure'
Chinese. My initial impression was that the percentage of texts
written in Nôm was even higher. This is because for the particular
medical subject I wished to investigate-smallpox -the percentage of
texts written in Nom or Hán-Nôm is even higher than is the
percentage of texts in Nôm and Hán-Nôm for general medical and
* ^ Wynn Wilcox Vietnam and the West: New Approaches 2010- Page 31
"At least one
* ^ Detailed information: V+63830", Vietnamese Nôm Preservation
* DeFrancis, John (1977), Colonialism and language policy in Viet Nam, Mouton, ISBN 978-90-279-7643-7 . * Hannas, Wm. C. (1997), Asia's Orthographic Dilemma, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-1892-0 . * Marr, David G. (1984), Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, 1920-1945, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-90744-7 . * Pulleyblank, Edwin George (1991), Lexicon of reconstructed pronunciation in early Middle Chinese, late Middle Chinese, and early Mandarin, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, ISBN 978-0-7748-0366-3 .
* Chʻen, Ching-ho (n. d.). A Collection of
Wikimedia Commons has media related to CHữ NôM .
* Chunom.org "This site is about Chu Nom, the old writing system of Vietnam." * Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation. Features a character dictionary. * Han-Nom Collection, digitized manuscripts held by the National Library of Vietnam. * Chữ Nôm, Omniglot * The Vietnamese Writing System, Bathrobe's Chinese, Japanese ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v
* t * e
Types of writing systems
* Writing systems
* undeciphered * inventors * constructed
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* Arabic * Pitman shorthand
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* Mon * Old