A SAGE Journal


Sesquisyllabicity, Chữ Nôm, and the Early Modern embrace of vernacular writing in Vietnam

John D. Phan 潘阳

发布时间:2020-11-26    点击次数:

【摘要】In East Asia, the relationship between script and language is determined to a great extent by the typological character of the languages involved. This is particularly so because sinographic writing generally relies on the syllable as the smallest unit of sound expressible. However, many languages that have adapted Sinitic writing throughout history display complex syllable structure not easily expressible by the monosyllabically inclined sinograph. Moreover, some languages have even displayed changing syllable structure throughout documented history. This article examines the so-called “monosyllabicization” of the Vietnamese language, and its impact on the history of the sinographic vernacular script known as Chữ Nôm. I argue that by the 17th century, the emergent monosyllabic character of Vietnamese was remarked upon by elites as a new justification for embracing vernacular writing, previously considered uncouth.

【关键词】Chữ Nôm, Chinese linguistics, historical linguistics, sinography, Vietnam
【作者简介】John D. Phan ,Columbia University, USA

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