Vietnamese is Written:
Vietnamese as it is a monosyllabic language!
been wondering for a while the question: "Why is Vietnamese
written as a monosyllabic language while it is not?" The
answer I found is based on these theories:
the very beginning of the modern human races, all languages around
the world were developed from single sounds or monosyllabic words!
The first human languages, originated somewhere from Africa,
certainly had about few hundreds of simple monosyllabic words,
e.g. eat, drink, jump, go, run, I, you, he. je, nous, vous, etc.
By observing how babies learn their first language this fact can
be proved . Later, thanks to the human brain evolution and due to
needs for better communication, people started adding more sounds
(or syllables) to the original words for clearly expressing their
mind. In fact, monosyllabic languages on earth now are spoken only
by a very few tribal minorities in Asia and Africa, excluding
Vietnamese . Unfortunately, Vietnamese is still considered by many
people as one of those monosyllabic languages which are still
existing on earth (spoken at least by 75 millions or more people).
though Vietnamese is now grouped into the Mon-Khmer language
family by majority of Vietnamese linguists, which is still
questionable and debatable matter, it still can be considered as a
cousin of the original Chinese based on all the similar
characteristics of all its linguistic aspects except for the case
of grammatical order of the adjective position (cf. thien thanh
vs. troi xanh). Vietnamese is written the way as it is today
mainly because each of its sound is originally based on each of
the Chinese writing character. However, Chinese at the present
state is certainly a polysyllabic language as reckoned by most
Chinese linguists. Besides Vietnamese and Chinese, Korean and
Japanese are also written in a similar way in block characters --
but they are not monosyllabic languages at all. Therefore the fact
that Vietnamese is still written in separate formation cannot
constitute Vietnamese as a monosyllabic language by nature. We can
prove that by examining many basic Vietnamese words which are
polysyllabic or disyllabic words in nature, for example, mangtang,
moac, cuicho, bavai... Solely the only fact that the majority of
vocabulary originated from Chinese being used in Vietnamese is
enough to establish the polysyllabic nature of the Vietnamese
language. For example, one can say sonha, giangsan, sonthuy, but
cannot break the morpheme son or san out from its combined
formation to say "toi len son".
Romanized Vietnamese was invented and evolved when European
missionaries came to Vietnam and learned Vietnamese mostly from
peasants and ethnic minorities such as Muong people, whose
Vietnamese proficiency was not too good or poorly spoken. In the
process of using Latin alphabet to transcribe the spoken
Vietnamese, these missionaries intentionally simplified the way
words were written so that the new writing system was easier to
read for the less-educated mass. Therefore the Vietnamese words
were separated clearly by a space or a hyphen between syllables
regardless of they were monosyllablics or polysyllabics in nature.
For examples: ong_Troi, con_gai, Quoc_Tu_Giam...(instead of...
ongtroi, congai, Quoctugiam), ..or tu-tuong, thanh-kien,
thien-than, vat-chat, tu-do which should have been correctly
transcribed as tutuong, thanhkien, thienthan, vatchat, tudo, etc.
way of writing Vietnamese as it was then was made out of their own
advantages and convenience, too. Please don't get me wrong on
this, I would not deny the good deeds they contributed toward
developing our modern written language. However, just imagine that
if you were a math teacher and always gave your students easy
problems all the time to make them happy. That was how they wanted
to keep their followers happy. It has been over 300 years now and
even though the writing language has been in official use for less
than a century people have gotten used to that way of reading and
writing. Unfortunately, this has profoundly affected the way we
speak and write, and most importantly, the evolution of genetic
structure of our people's brain, too.
when writing Vietnamese people have become lazy to draw a short
bar or "hyphen -" between disyllabic or polysyllabic
words such as tivi, honda, mayvitinh, vanhocnghethuat, but many do
remember to use a hyphen (-) to write their full names such as
Nguyen-van-Anh-Vu. Why don't they just write Nguyenvan Anhvu
instead? Something must be sacred about their names, but the soul
of Vietnamese is not -- that's somebody's else business.
Technically, it's just a waste of paper and time. Just take into
consideration the fact that one must lift the pen or hit space key
on a computer keyboard hundreds of times for a few pages in
writing. It is illogical that most newspapers print
"Saigon, Ha Noi in Viet Nam" instead of Saigon, Hanoi in
Vietnam. My rough estimate is that we will save up to 5 % of paper
, and 10% of our valuable time if we omit those separation spaces.
this writing is not to bring up the subject of saving time and
paper. There is something more important: The way we write will
affect to the way we speak and the development of our people's
brain structure, especially for children who begin to learn their
first words in the Vietnamese language. The brain of
children who "must" learn his first language from a more
sophisticated language, in this case the written language, would
be naturally required to work harder, and as a result, his brain
would develop a little much better than otherwise. Generation
after generation, that will have an accumulated effect
significantly on genetic evolution of our people's brain.
language on earth is evolving or changing slowly in time.
Typically more than a few vocabulary words and meanings are added
into American English a day! Vietnamese language should need more
than that because of the increasing role played by new technology
and science in daily life that are much in need for a developing
country like Vietnam. That needed change would not be easily
accomplished if our language still keeps its monosyllabic way of
writing because the Vietnamese language as it is today is no
longer a monosyllabic language. Monosyllabic languages which are
still in use are those of tribal or less civilized people whose
brains have not evolved or developed sophisticatedly enough to
memorize or coordinate different syllables simultaneously in their
native tongues. We do not have to be Vietnamese linguists to
apprehend the problems with our mother tongue; common sense
teaches us what is "better" or "better not".
So, please don't take this lightly. Let's join in a movement to
start writing Vietnamese in a more scientific way which reflects
the true nature of our polysyllabic language.
is the first simple step we can begin with: Do not leave a
"space" between the polysyllabic words. For instance:
cuicho, chanmay, bavai, bangkhuang, bongo, thanhaonhansi,
hanghasaso, hientuongluan, nhansinhquan, utru, tuongtuong,
canhchung, xemxet, quansat, suyluan, tuduy... or any words that
usually come together such as cucchangda, tuynhien, buoisang,
chodu, macke... In English one may notice that the commonly paired
words are written in the combined formation. For instance, the
word "university" was originated by two words
"universal city", or "nevertheless" was
"never the less", "albeit" was "all be
it", afternoon was clearly from after......noon!"
dayla mot loi viet dung cho tieng Viet hiendai:
cothe batdau lam mot cuoc cachmang nho cho vanhoa Vietnam,
bangcach thaydoi loi viet tieng Viet ngaytubaygio. Bietdau trong
tuonglai motvai thehe toi se cho ketqua totdep ma hientai khong ai
cothe thaytruoc duoc!