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Chữ Nôm or the former Vietnamese script and its past Contributions to Vietnamese Literature

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Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Area and Culture Studies 24, 1974. — 18 p.Нгуен Хак Хам. Тьы-ном или классическая вьетнамская письменность и её роль во вьетнамской литературе (на англ. яз.)Chu nom is the name given by the Vietnamese to one of their two former systems of writing created by the modification of the Chinese characters. It was called so, as opposed both to Chu Han or the Han Chinese Script and to Chu Nho or the script of Vietnamese confucianist scholars. In the latter connotation, it means the demotic or vulgar script in traditional Vietnam.
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Chữ nôm or the former Vietnamese script
and its past Contributions
to Vietnamese literature

Nguyễn Khắc-Kham

Chữ nôm (Chữ 'script,' and nôm < nam 'south, Vietnamese') is the name given by the
Vietnamese to one of their two former systems of writing created by the modification of
the Chinese characters. It was called so, as opposed both to Chữ Hán or the Han Chinese
script 1) and to Chữ Nho or the script of Vietnamese confucianist scholars. In the latter
connotation, it means the demotic or vulgar script in traditional Vietnam.2)
The date of its invention has not been so far established beyond controversy.
According to Ngô Thì Nhậm
(1726-1780) "our National language was most used
from Thuyên." 3) Thuyên was Nguyễn Thuyên
, a scholar who lived at the end of the
thirteenth century, under the Trần dynasty. "He received his doctorate under the reign
of Emperor Trần Thái Tôn
(1225-1257). In the fall of 1282, while holding the
post of Minister of Justice, he was commissioned by Emperor Trần Nhân Tôn
write a message to a crocodile which had come to the Red River. After his writing drove
the animal away, the emperor allowd him to change his family name from Nguyễn
Hàn , because a similar incident had occurred before in China to the poet-scholar Hàn
(768-824). The anecdote was related in Khâm định Việt-sử Thông-giám CươngYu
, 7.26a 4) according to which, Hàn Thuyên
was skilled in
writing Shih fu
, and many people took model after him.5)
On the basis of these facts, Hàn Thuyên was claimed to be the inventor of Chữ nôm.
Such was the opinion of P. Pelliot 6) and H. Maspero. The latter who shared P. Pelliot's
views, also mentioned a stele discovered in Hộ Thành sơn
, Ninh Bình province
, North Vietnam.7) This stele bore an inscription dating from the year 1343 and on
which could be read twenty Vietnamese village and hamlet names in Chữ nôm.
The above hypothesis has not been accepted without reserve by other scholars.
Nguyễn văn Tố presumed that Chữ nôm had probably existed as early as at the;  end of the
eighth century when the title of Bố Cái Ðại Vương
(Father and mother of the
people) was given by his successor and his subjects to Phùng Hưng
, who, in 791,
overthrew the then Chinese governor and seized upon the Protectorate of Annam.8) Such
was also the opinion of Dương Quảng Hàm in his Short history of Vietnamese literature.9)
A third hypothesis was advanced in 1932 by another Vietnamese scholar, Sở Cuồng, who
tried to prove that Chữ nôm dated back from Shih-Hsieh
(187-226 A.D.). His
arguments rested mainly on a statement by a Vietnamese confucianist scholar under the
reign of Emperor Tự-Ðức
, known under the name of Nguyễn văn San
the pseudonym of Văn-Ða cư-sĩ
. In his book entitled Ðại-Nam Quốc-ngữ
, this scholar stated that Shih Wang
, was the first to try translating Chinese
Classics into Vietnamese by using the Chinese characters as phonetic symbols to


transcribe Vietnamese native words. Among the difficulties allegedly encountered by
, (the osprey) and yang
Shih Hsieh in his attempts, he quoted two examples: sui chiu
, (tha carambola or willow peach), to which he did not know what kind of bird
and what kind of fruit might correspond in Vietnamese. Sở Cuồng subscribed to Văn-Ða
cư-sĩ's opinion, although he regretted that this author did not give any references to his
statement. In support of it, he put forward the following arguments:
1) At the time of Shih Hsieh, when the first Vietnamese made Chinese studies, they
could understand only through the Vietnamese language and their Chineses teachers must
have used such Chinese characters as having sounds similar to the Vietnamese words to
teach the Vietnamese how to read some Chinese characters. On the other hand, as the
Chinese sounds and symbols could not transcribe all the Vietnamese native words, the
then Vietnamese students must have tried to fill the vacancies by combining together
various components of the Chinese characters to form new characters on the basis of such
principles of Chinese writing as Hsiai shêng
, chiah chieh
, and hui-i
. It
is in this way that Chữ nôm was likely to have been devised.
, where, according to the
2) Furthemore, Shih Hsieh was a native of Kuang-Hsin
Ling wai tai ta
, by Chu ch'u Fei
, under the Sung , there had existed
from the remotest times, a local script very similar to the Vietnamese Chữ nôm. For
(= quiet).
instances, (= small) and
3) The two Vietnamese Bố, father and Cái, mother as found in the posthumous title of
Bố-Cái Ðại-Vương bestowed upon Phùng-Hưng were historically the earliest evidences
for the use of Chữ nôm in the eighth century. Later, under the Ðinh , Ðại Cồ Việt
, the official name of the then Vietnam included also a nôm character Cồ.
Under the Trần there was a very common use of Chữ nôm as evidenced by the
practice of the then Court Minister called Hành Khiển
, who used to annotate royal
decrees with Chữ nôm so as to make them better understood by the people.10)
All the views as just outlined above have each some good points. However, anyone
is authoritative enough to be adopted as conclusive on the date of the invention of Chữ
In fact, Chữ nôm, far from being devised by an individual sometimes in Vietnamese
history, should be rather considered as the product of many centuries of patient and
obscure elaboration. Such is the most reasonable conclusion mostly reached by scholars
quite recently dealing with research on Chữ nôm.
As previously defined, Chữ nôm consisted essentially of Vietnamese adaptation of
borrowed Chinese characters. Accordingly, its invention could be realized only at a stage
when the knowledge of Chinese characters had been enough wide-spread in Vietnam.
The first Vietnamese who commanded the use of Chinese characters were a few
entirely sinicized intellectuals. Such was the case with Lý-Tiến
, Lý Cầm
Trương Trọng
(second century A.D.). Later, some of these intellectuals came to
make poetries and prosa poetries in Chinese after the Chinese models. Such was the case
with Phùng Ðái Tri
whose poetic compostion was lauded by the Chinese
emperor Kao Tsu
of T'ang
(618-626), Khương Công Phụ
a prosa-poetry
of whom can still be found in Chinese anthologies.11)
During the period from the Han to the T'ang some Chữ nôm patterns might have been
devised to represent some native words especially the names of places, persons and
official titles in Vietnam. Only a few remains of these attempts have subsisted so far.


Such are Bố and Cái transcribed by two Chinese characters whose Vietnamese reading is
similar to the sounds of the two corresponding Vietnamese native words.
From the tenth century to the thirteenth century, although the Vietnamese had gained
back their national independence from China, the Chinese script always enjoyed an
exclusive privilege strengthened by the system of civil service examination patterned
after the Chinese system.12) For that reason, Vietnamese intellectuals continued to
express their thoughts and feelings in Chinese characters. Not only poetries, prosapoetries and historical records but also royal edicts, memorials to the Kings, laws, and
regulations etc... were written in Chinese characters. However, all of these Vietnamese
writings in the Chinese script might have been not the same as those of the first
Vietnamese intellectuals mentioned above. The form was Chinese but the substance was
Vietnamese. In another respect, various genres of Chinese literature in which
Vietnamese writers tried their hands were definitive acquisitions for the forthcoming
Vietnamese literature in Chữ nôm. As far as the nôm script is especially concerned, the
official use of the two nôm characters Bố and Cái late in the eighth century and that of
the nôm character Cồ in the tenth century are fair indications that some patterns of Chữ
nôm were devised by the Vietnamese at the latest from the eighth to the tenth century.
Besides such nôm characters as Bố, Cái, Cồ, others might have been created about at the
same periods both by the phonetic and by the semantic use of Chinese characters. For
example, Vietnamese native words một (one), and ta ( I, we) are respectively transcribed
with their phonetic reading. Vietnamese native words,
by Chinese characters
cày, cấy, ruộng, bếp are respectively transcribed by Chinese characters , , , and
with their semantic reading.13) As to such other more refined patterns of Chữ nôm as
those coined on the basis of the principles of Chinese writing hui-i and hsieh-shêng, they
must have been invented only later, probably after the Sino-Vietnamese had taken a
definitive shape.14)
To summarize, Chữ nôm was not invented overnight to be put at the disposal of Hàn
Thuyên for writing poetry and prosa poetry but its formation process must have stretched
over many centuries by starting at the latest from the eighth century before reaching a
certain degree of completion under the Trần . It was later improved successively by its
users from the Lê , to the Nguyễn before attaining to a relative fixity in such a
popular long narrative poems as Kim Vân Kiều
and Lục Vân Tiên
As far as can be judged from these master-pieces of Vietnamese literature in Chữ
nôm, this script is not so fanciful and irrational as some of its critics have claimed. In
fact, it was governed by rather precise and even rigid rules.
In our previous study on Foreign borrowings in Vietnamese we have given some
examples of its main patterns. We will take advantage of this opportunity to describe its
structure as fully as we could with materials we have access to.
As rightly observed by Prof. Rokuro Kono, the Vietnamese Chữ nôm shows striking
similarities to the Japanese Kana and the Japanese Kokuji
. Following are some
examples given by him. In the Kojiki
, the phonetic and semantic readings of
Chinese characters which also are made use of in Chữ nôm are both employed by its
compiler Ono Yasumaro. Thus the phonetic representation is used in such proper names
. This phonetic method is
completely adopted in the famous song beginning with "yakumo tatu..." The phonetic
representation is not a dominant current except in proper names and songs. Even in

proper names the phonetic method is not always adopted.
(hayasusanowo) is
represented by the semantic method except
/susa/, which is also prevalent in such
examples as in
(Inada-no Miyanusi) etc. Besides the two
examples mentioned above, Prof. Rokuro Kono quoted also the instances {ima,
{fazime, {toki, {kumo, {uta, {kami,
{kubi. The hui-i characters newly
created are found both in Japan and Vietnam, e.g. , giời is created by compounding the
. The characters invented in Japan, the so-called Kokuji
(National character) e.g. (sasaki),
(tauge), (mori) etc... are the developments of
the hui-i characters in the same way as the nôm character , giời.
Despite all these apparent similarities, in view of the differences between the
Japanese and the Vietnamese languages as to their phonetic system and the historical
background of the Chinese writing influences, the structure of Chữ nôm preserved its
distinctive originality, as clearly shown hereafter by its various formation patterns.
Chinese characters borrowed by Chữ nôm to represent a single morphene in
Vietnamese may be used singly or in combination.
I. A single Chinese character is used to represent
1) a Vietnamese morphene of Chinese origin, which has exactly the Sino-Vietnamese
reading and the meaning of the corresponding Chinese character. Ex. đầu (head),
áo (rob, tunic).
2) a Vietnamese morpheme of Chinese origin which has preserved the meaning of the
corresponding Chinese character but whose Vietnamese reading has been slightly
different from the Sino-Vietnamese reading of the corresponding Chinese character. Ex.
Chinese character
, Sino-Vietnamese reading: pháp is used to represent Vietnamese
morpheme phép (law, rule). Chinese character , Sino-Vietnamese reading kỳ is used
to represent Vietnamese morpheme cờ (flag). Chinese character , Sino-Vietnamese
reading: kiều is used to represent Vietnamese morpheme cầu (bridge).
3) a Vietnamese morphene probably of Chinese origin, whose meaning is the same as
that of the corresponding Chinese character but whose reading compared to the SinoVietnamese reading of the Chinese character has been strongly altered. Ex. Chinese
character , Sino-Vietnamese reading: quyển is used to represent Vietnamese
morpheme cuốn (to roll). Chinese character , Sino-Vietnamese reading bản, bổn is
used to represent Vietnamese morpheme vốn (capital, funds).
4) a Vietnamese morpheme of the same meaning as the corresponding Chinese
character but whose reading is quite different from the Sino-Vietnamese reading of it.
Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: dịch, is used to represent Vietnamese morpheme việc
(work, job, occupation).
5) a Vietnamese morpheme whose reading is the same as of similar to the SinoVietnamese reading of the corresponding Chinese character but whose meaning is
completely different. Ex. Chinese character , Sino-Vietnamese reading: qua (lance,
spear) is used to represent Vietnamese morpheme qua (to pass by). Chinese character
, Sino-Vietnamese reading: một (to disappear under water, to be submerged) is used to
represent Vietnamese morpheme một (one). In these two examples, the Sino-Vietnamese
reading of the Chinese character is exactly the same as the reading of the Vietnamese
morpheme represented. Ex. Chinese character , Sino-Vietnamese reading chu (red,
vermilion) is used to represent the Vietnamese morpheme cho (to give). Chinese
character , Sino-Vietnamese reading ky or cơ (crible, sieve) is used to represent


Vietnamese morpheme kia (over there, that). In the last two examples, the SinoVietnamese reading of the Chinese character is almost similar to the reading of the
Vietnamese morpheme represented.
Such Chữ nôm as included in the second, third, fourth and fifth categories above by
Dương Quảng Hàm 17) were considered by Hồ Ngọc Cẩn 18) as belonging to the same
category of Chữ nôm represented by Chinese characters whose Sino-Vietnamese reading
offers sound similarities with their Vietnamese reading. There are, according to the
latter, several cases of these sound similarities as follows:
1) Sound similarities between the Sino-Vietnamese reading of a Chinese character
and the reading of one or several Vietnamese morpheme except for the initial consonant.
Ex. Chinese character , Sino-Vietnamese reading: bản may represent phản in Nôm.
2) Sound similarities only as the final syllable or only as the vowel or the vowel
cluster before the final consonant. Ex.
, may be read hợp, hạp, hiệp or hộp.
3) Sometimes, the Sino-Vietnamese reading of the Chinese character used to
represent a Vietnamese morpheme differs from the latter both by the initial consonant
and the final syllable. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese: chức may also represent, in Nôm, chắc
or giấc.
4) Sound similarities considered as such despite the difference of tones. Ex. ,
Sino-Vietnamese ngâm is also used to represent, in Nôm, ngấm, ngẫm or ngậm.
To understand the above and other similar examples of Chữ nôm, we should know
which initial consonants, which vowels or vowel clusters, which final syllables in the
Sino-Vietnamese word corresponding to a Chinese character and in the Vietnamese
morpheme to be represented in Nôm used to be considered as interchangeable.
A) Initial consonants considered as interchangeable for representation in Nôm.
a) Initial consonants b-, ph-, v-. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: bốc which
represents in Nôm such Vietnamese morphemes as bốc and bói may also
represent vốc; , Sino-Vietnamese reading: bản may also represent in Nôm
phản, bản or ván.
b) Initial consonants c-, k-, gh-, qu- used to be interchangeable. Ex. , SinoVietnamese reading cập may also represent, in Nôm, cấp, gặp or kịp; , SinoVietnamese reading: quần, may aslo represent còn in Nôm.
c) Initial consonants d-, t-, v- used to be interchangeable. Ex.
, SinoVietnamese reading: tính or tánh may also represent dính in Nôm;
, SinoVietnamese reading: đình may also represent, in Nôm, dành or đành.
d) Initial consonants ch-, gi- and less frequently tr-, x- used to be interchangeable.
Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: chấp may also represent, in Nôm, chụp, giúp,
xúp, or xọp.
e) Initial consonants l-, r-, tr- used to be interchangeable. Ex.
, SinoVietnamese reading: luật may also represent, in Nôm, lọt, luột, lót, rọt or trót.
B) Syllables considered as interchangeable for representation in Chữ nôm.
a) ác, ắc, ấc, ức, ước used to be interchangeable. Ex.
, Sino-Vietnamese
reading: bắc may also represent, in Nôm, bấc, bực or bước.
b) ach, ếch, iếc, ích used to be interchangeable. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese
reading: dịch may also represent việc in Nôm; , Sino-Vietnamese reading:
xích, may also represent, in Nôm, xếch or xệch.


c) ai, ay, ây, oai, oay, uây, oi, ôi, ơi, uôi, ươi, ui, ưi, e, ê, i, ia and sometimes ưa
are interchangeable. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: chi may also represent
chia in Nôm;
, Sino-Vietnamese reading: bì may also represent, in Nôm, bề
or vừa.
d) am, ăm, âm, em, êm, im, iêm, om, ôm, ơm, um, ươm used to be interchangeable.
Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: đam may also represent, in Nôm, đâm, đem or
e) an, ăn, ân, en, ên, iên, uyên, in, uân, on, ôn, ươn, ơn, un, ưn, uôn used to be
interchangeable. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: lân was also used to
represent lăn in Nôm.19)
f) ăng, âng, ung, ưng, ương used to be interchangeable. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese
reading: đăng was also used to represent, in Nôm, dâng or chừng.
g) ong, ông, ung and sometimes ưng were interchangeable. Ex.
, SinoVietnamese reading: dụng was also used to represent, in Nôm, dòng, dùng.
h) anh, ênh, inh, iêng, ang, ưng used to be interchangeable. Ex.
, SinoVietnamese reading: sinh or sanh was also used to represent siêng in Nôm.
i) ao, au, âu, o, ô, ơ, u, ư, ưa, ưu used to be interchangeable. Ex. , SinoVietnamese reading: lao was also used as hsiai-shêng to represent lao, lau, trao
or trau.
j) ap, ăp, âp, ep, êp, iêp, ip, op, ôp, ơp, up, ưp, ươp were interchangeable. Ex. ,
Sino-Vietnamese reading: cập was also used to represent, in Nôm, gặp, gấp or
k) at, ăt, ât, uất, ot, ôt, ơt, ut, ưt, ươt, uôt, it were interchangeable. Ex. , SinoVietnamese reading: ât was also used to represent in Nôm, ắt, út or it.
l) et, êt, iêt, it were interchangeable. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese reading: hiết was
also used to represent in Nôm hết or hít.
N.B. From the above examples, we see that several Chữ nôm were made up by
changing not only initial consonants, but also final syllables and sometimes even tones.
Ex. could be read cập, gặp, kịp or kíp;
could be read ngâm, ngắm or gẫm.
II. Chinese characters used in combination for representation in Chữ nôm.
Whenever a single Chinese character could not represent a Chữ nôm with its SinoVietnamese reading or sound similarities of its Sino-Vietnamese reading, two Chinese
characters were used, the one as signific, the other as phonetic. The choice of the Chinese
character to be used as phonetic was based upon the twelve rules given above by Hồ
Ngọc Cẩn about sound similarities. As to the signific, it used to be represented either by
a Chinese character or a Chinese radical (
). Ex. Nôm character
(ba, three) is
made up of the phonetic (read ba) and the signific meaning three. Nôm character ,
(tay, hand) is made up of the signific (hand) and the phonetic (read tây). Nôm
character (trăm, hundred) is made up of the signific (hundred) and the phonetic
(read lâm). Nôm character , (ra, to go out) is made up of the phonetic
(read la) and
the signific
(to go out). These examples show that the signific does not have a fixed
position. In principle, it is placed on the left hand side. Such is the case with the above
second example. However, for reason of esthetics, the signific may change its position.
Thus it is placed on the right side in the first example, on the top in the third one and at
the bottom in the fourth one. In this last one, always for the same reason, it may also be
placed on the right side as follows . In case it is constituted by one of the 214 radicals


of the Chinese lexicon, its position is the same as would have normally a radical in the
Chinese character concerned. Ex. Nôm character nói (to speak) where the radical
is on the left side, Nôm character
quạ (raven, crow) where the radical is on the
right side, Nôm character nong (flat, large winowing basket) where the radical
on the top, Nôm character
lòng (entrails, heart) where the radical is at the bottom.21)
Exceptionally, in a few Chữ nôm made up of two Chinese characters used in
combination, both of their components may indicat the meaning. We then have a pure
Chữ nôm. Thus Vietnamese morpheme giời or trời (sky, heaven) is represented by the
. There is not
Chữ nôm , itself a combination of two Chinese characters and
even a most remote hint on pronunciation.22) Some Chữ nôm may also consist of a
signific from Chữ Nho or Chinese character with a Sino-Vietnamese reading and a
phonetic compound from Chữ nôm. Thus Vietnamese morpheme lời (word, speech,
statement) is represented in Nôm by the complicated grapheme
which consists of the
Chinese radical used as signific and of Chữ nôm (giời or trời) used as phonetic.23)
With these few exceptions, Chữ nôm of this second type are made up of signific and a
phonetic, both being taken from Chinese characters.24) However some texts in Chữ nôm
especially those of Catholic missionaries and those reproduced by copyists reveal a
tendency to retain only the phonetic by suppression the signific. Here is an example
quoted by Hồ Ngọc Cẩn. The phrase: Có xưa nay (There exists before and now) was
represented in Nôm by Catholic missionaries as follows:
while it would have
been transcribed normally in Nôm as follows:
according to Hồ Ngọc Cẩn or as
according to Prof. Nguyễn Quang Xỹ and Prof. Vũ Văn Kính25). This
simplification of Chữ nôm may be generally accounted for by the necessity for the
copyists of Nôm texts to save time. According to Dương Quảng Hàm, the same
motivation might have underlain some specifically Vietnamese abbreviated forms of
Chinese characters used for representation in Chữ nôm. Ex. Vietnamese morpheme làm
(to do) is represented in Nôm by
, abbreviated form of Chinese character .
, abbreviated form of
Vietnamese morpheme là (to be) is represented in Nôm by
Chinese character .26)
In addition to the above types of Chữ nôm, namely that of Chữ nôm transcribed by a
single Chinese character and that of Chữ nôm transcribed by a combination of several
Chinese characters, a special mention should be made of the following Chữ nôm
(khề-khà, [of voice] to be drawling and hoarse) and
(khệnh-khạng, to be awkward;
to walk slowly like an important person, put on airs).27) These Chữ nôm of a unique type
were found by Prof. Nguyễn Quang Xỹ and Prof. Vũ Văn Kính in a poem in Chữ nôm by
Cao Bá Quát, a poet scholar under Emperor Tự Ðức. According to the authors of TựÐiển Chữ nôm (Dictionary of Chữ nôm), these two Chữ nôm would defy any analysis as
to their structure. Personally we wonder whether they were created by the Vietnamese on
the basis of the same principle of construction as the modern Chinese character
pàng or ping pong or whether such is only a mere case of pure coincidence.28)
Chữ nôm whose structure has just been described above 29) is not without
Following are some of these as pointed to by Dương Quảng Hàm.
1) One Vietnamese morpheme may be represented by two different nôm graphemes.
Ex. đốt (to burn) is transcribed sometimes by the grapheme sometimes by the
grapheme .


2) The same nôm grapheme may represent two or several different morphemes.
a) Two homophones, a Sino-Vietnamese word mãi (to buy) and a Vietnamese
native word mãi (always) may be represented by the same grapheme .
b) A Sino-Vietnamese word bản (capital, funds) and a Vietnamese native word
with the same meaning but with a different reading (vốn) are represented by the same
grapheme .
c) A Sino-Vietnamese word quần (a group, a band) and a Vietnamese native word
còn (still) having each a quite different meaning may be represented by the same
grapheme .
d) Two or several words of different meanings but the reading of one of which
suggests that of the other or the others are represented by the same grapheme. Ex. mãi
(to buy) is used to transcribed sometimes mãi (always), sometimes mới (new, then) or
also mấy (some, a few, how many?)
e) Two or several Vietnamese words having in common the same final vowel or
vowel cluster but not having the same initial consonant are represented by the same
grapheme. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese: du may represent Vietnamese word dầu (oil;
although) or Vietnamese word rầu (to be sad, depressed).
f) Two or several Vietnamese words with the same sounds but with different
tones may be represented by only one grapheme. Ex. , Sino-Vietnamese manh (to
sprout) represents not only the Sino-Vietnamese word itself but also such Vietnamese
native words as manh (in mong-manh, to be thin, frail), manh (piece, bit, fragment), mánh
(in mánh khoé, trick, artifice), mành (blind, shades). This use of the same grapheme to
transcribe several words of the same sounds is due to the out-numbering of Chinese tones
by Vietnamese tones. That is why, to compensate vacancies in Chinese tones, some
diacritical marks were invented by the Vietnamese. Such as , placed in the upper
right and a small placed in the upper left of the Chinese character used to represent a
Vietnamese native word. Ex. mốc (to be mildewed, musty, moldy) is transcribed by the
Chinese character (Sino-Vietnamese mộc) with the adjunction of one of the above
three diacritical marks. As a result, we have
or also
With such imperfections, Chữ nôm could not indeed compare with the present Chữ
quốc ngữ or the romanized script which is a phonetic script par excellence. It must be
said however to its credit that, long before the invention of the latter system of writing, it
had found out some devices of its own to phoneticize Vietnamese native sounds as
accurately as feasible. Edouard Diguet showed that the ambiguity possible in the
romanized script because of innumerable homophones could be avoided in Chữ nôm.31)
Quite recently, Prof. Bửu Cầm brought other strong points of Chữ nôm which a few
exceptions, succeeded in making clear a distinction between initial consonants d- and gi-,
between initial consonants ch- and tr-, between final consonants -n and -ng, between final
consonants -c(k) and -t.32)
As can just be seen, Chữ nôm despite its unavoidable shortcomings, proved to be of
some value even in terms of phonemics.
In another respect, from the end of the thirteenth century to the middle of the
twentieth century, it has played an effective role in the expression and the transmission of
Vietnamese literature.


The history of Vietnamese literature in nôm which covered nearly seven centuries
period (thirteenth
may be divided in the following main periods: 1) The Trần-Hồ
and fourteenth centuries). 2) The Lê-Mạc
period fifteenth and sixteenth centuries).
3) The Lê trung hưng
or North-South struggle period (seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries). 4) The Nguyễn period (nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth
1) The Trần-Hồ period
According to Khâm-định Việt-sử thông-giám Cương-mục
, the
first writer have used chữ nôm in poetry was Nguyễn Thuyên
or Hàn Thuyên
and others were said to have followed his example. Such were Nguyễn Sĩ Cố
, and Chu An
. The latter and Nguyễn Thuyên were reported to have been
respectively the authors of Quốc ngữ thi tập
and Phi sa tập
Unfortunately, both of these collections of nôm verses were lost. According to Bùi Huy
(1744-1818), Trê Cóc
or The story in verses of the Catfish and the
Toad also dated from the Trần , but the exact date of this satirical fable in lục-bát
, has not been so far conclusively determined.33) In addition, Trinh Thử
or the virtuous mouse a narrative poem in nôm, the Story in verses of Vương Tường
, and six other writings in nôm related to the Story of Nguyễn Biểu
also presumed to have dated from the end of the Trần. However, there has been so far
much controversy about their true date.33)
Concerning writings in nôm under the Hậu Trần
and the Hồ
it was also
, the King's Father
reported that in 1387 under the reign of King Trần Ðế Nghiện
Trần Nghệ Tôn,
, having granted to Hồ Quí Ly
then Lê Quí Ly
sword bearing the inscription
(Both a scholar and a warrior, a
virtuous subject serving a virtuous King)34), Quí Ly composed verses in the vernacular to
show him his gratitude. Later, in 1437, as King Thái Tổ
of the Lê
wanted to read samples of edicts and verses written in nôm by Hồ Quí Ly, Nguyễn Trãi
, was reported to have succeeded in gathering and presenting to him some tens of
these writings.35)
2) The Lê-Mạc period
The same Nguyễn Trãi was also said to have left some writings in nôm, such as Ứctrai thi tập
, an improvised poem in the vernacular addressed to Thị Lộ
, a
girl seller of sleeping mats who later became his concubine and didactic poem in nôm,
or family instructions. The so-called improvised poem to Thị Lộ is
Gia huấn ca
of dubious authenticity. As to Gia huấn ca, this poem in 796 lines may have been
composed later by one or several successive authors. The only writing in nôm by Nguyễn
Trãi available at present is the Collection of poems in the National language (Quốc âm
) which forms the chapter seven of Ức trai di tập
thi tập
If the outset of the Lê dynasty was marked with no other important nôm literary work
than this collection of poems by Nguyễn Trãi and two Thệ ngôn
by Lê Lợi recently
brought to light by Hoàng Xuân Hãn, the reign of King Lê Thánh Tôn
(14601497) witnessed an extraordinary flourishing of Vietnamese literature in the vernacular.
King Lê Thánh Tôn who was gifted with the rare faculty of composing poetry and was
very fond of belles-lettres, founded a literary circle known as Hội Tao Ðàn
as members 28 Court officials called Nhị thập bát tú
or the 28 Constellations

and with himself as Chairman
, and as vice Chairmen
, Thân Nhân Trung
and Ðỗ Nhuận
. Within this Hội Tao Ðàn, himself and his courtiers
exchanged poems in nôm which were collected later to form the Collections of
Vietnamese poems under the reign of Hồng Ðức
i.e. the reign of Lê Thánh Tôn.38)
Besides this Hồng Ðức quốc âm thi tập
, mentioned should be made of
, by Lương Nhữ Hộc
such writings in nôm as Hồng Châu quốc ngữ thi tập
, Kim Lăng Ký
by Ðỗ Cận
. In the next century, under the Mạc ,
Vietnamese literature in nôm showed much more originality in the famous Collection of
poems by Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm
(1492-1587) known as Bạch vân thi tập
, Bạch Vân (White Clouds) being the literary appellation of this poet. Among
nôm writings under the Mạc, we should also mention Ðại Ðồng phong cảnh phú
, Tam Ngung động phú
, and Tịch cư ninh thể
Nguyễn Hãng
; Sứ Bắc quốc ngữ thi tập
, Sứ trình Khúc
, Tứ
thời Khúc
, Tiểu độc lạc phú
by Hoàng Sĩ Khải
and, finally,
Ngư phủ nhập Ðào nguyên truyện
, by Phùng Khắc Khoan
3) The Lê trung hưng or North South Struggle period
From the death of Lê Thánh Tôn in 1497, Ðại Việt
or the then Vietnam went on
to be plagued with social troubles and a permanent state of political unrest which led to
(1527). After the short lived dynasty of the
the usurpation by Mạc Ðăng Dung
Mạc, war broke out in 1627 between the Trịnh in the North and the Nguyễn in the
South, both claiming to be followers of the Lê . It ended only in 1672 with the
) as the demarcation line between the
agreement to use the River of Linh (Linh giang
two territories. But in 1775, taking advantage of the Tây Sơn
, revolt in the South,
the Trịnh attacked and took Phú Xuân
, the capital of the Nguyễn in the South.
However, both the Trịnh and the Nguyễn were finally overthrown by the Tây sơn one of
the leaders of whom Nguyễn Huệ
proclaimed himself Emperor by the end of 1787.
Despite the historic triumph of Emperor Quang Trung
over the Chinese in 1789 and
many of its remarkable achievements, the Tây Sơn regime was short-lived and brought to
proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long
an end in 1802 when Nguyễn Ánh
the Nguyễn after capturing Emperor Cảnh Thịnh
of the Tây Sơn and his brothers.
The social and political background of this long period covering the seventeenth and
the eighteenth centuries had a great impact on the development of the Vietnamese
literature in nôm. Most of the writers were military leaders or Court officials mostly
involved in the events of their times. All of them wrote in Chinese characters. However
they chose to write also in nôm which enabled them to spread more widely their personal
political convictions far beyond the traditional academic circle and, at the same time, to
enlarge their sphere of influence in the country. Besides such Chinese borrowed literary
genres as the Thất ngôn thi
or seven beat meter poetry, the Phú or prosepoetry, the Kinh Nghĩa
or explanations of Chinese Classics, the Văn sách
dissertation which continued to be in high favour, some long narratives in lục bát
Six eight meter and in Song thất lục bát
or the 7-7-6-8 meter which made their
apparition toward the end of the eighteenth century, materialized the new creative spirit
of Vietnamese writers in nôm. Following are the most representative works of
Vietnamese nôm literature during these two centuries in the then North Vietnam, South
Vietnam and under the Tây Sơn.


a) Let us mention, as main nôm writings in North Vietnam under the Trịnh: Giai
, Ngã ba hạc phú by Nguyễn Bá Lân
, Chinh phụ
cảnh hứng tình phú
translated into nôm by Ðoàn thị Ðiểm
, Cung oán Ngâm Khúc
by Nguyễn Gia Thiều
, Hoa Tiên Truyện
by Nguyễn Huy Tự
, Tự tình Vãn
or two short poems by Nguyễn thị Ngọc Vinh
, Lý Triều Ðệ tam Hoàng thái hậu cổ lục thần tích
concubine of Lord Trịnh Doanh
quốc ngữ diễn ca
by Trương Ngọc Trong, a maid of
honor at the time of Lord Trịnh Cương
, Ngự đề Thiên hoà doanh Bách vịnh thi tập
by Lord Trịnh Căn
, Kiền Nguyên thi tập
by Lord
Trịnh Doanh, Tâm thanh tồn dụy tập
by Lord Trịnh Sâm
b) Among main nôm writings in South Vietnam under the Nguyễn, mention should be
made of Huê tình Truyện
by Prince Ðán (1699-1753) the eighth son of King
Hiển Tôn
Nguyễn Phước Chú
, Ngoạ Long cương vãn
and Tư
Dung vãn
by Ðào Duy Từ
, Sãi Vãi, a satirical writing by Nguyễn Cư
, Song tinh bất dạ truyện
by Nguyễn Hữu Hào
4) Main nôm writings under the Tây Sơn
In addition to such reasons as exposed previously which account for the great
development of Nôm literature at the end of the eighteenth century, let us also mention
the exceptional favour in which was kept chữ nôm under the Tây Sơn and especially
. Here are some of the nôm writings
under the short reign of Emperor Quang Trung
by Hoàng
whose authors supported or opposed this regime: Hoài Nam Khúc
, Tụng Tây hồ phú
by Nguyễn Huy Lượng
, Ai tư vãn
by Princess Ngọc Hân
, wife of Nguyễn Huệ
, Dụ am Ngâm tập
and Dụ am văn tập
by Phan Huy Ích
, who has also left a
nôm translation of the Chinese written Chinh phụ Ngâm
by Ðặng Trần Côn
, Ngôn ẩn thi tập
and Cung oán thi
by Nguyễn Hữu Chỉnh
, Chiến tụng Tây hồ phú
and the narrative in nôm Sơ Kính Tân Trang
by Phạm Thái
.41) Besides these nôm writings of the seventeenth and the
eighteenth centuries, we would like to make a special mention of the Thiên Nam minh
, an anonymous long historical poem in the 7-7-6-8 meter which
according to Prof. Phạm văn Diêu might have been composed between 1623 to 1657 42)
and the Thiên Nam Ngữ lục
, another anonymous historical poem which might
have been written between 1787 and 1800 according to Nguyễn văn Tố or between 1682
and 1709 according to Hoàng Xuân Hãn.43)
Vietnamese literature in Nôm under the Nguyễn (1802-1862)
This period which covered about sixty years has been justly considered to be the
golden age of Vietnamese literature in nôm. This great flourishing of nôm literary works
was not after all due to the cultural policy of the Nguyễn who with the exception of
Emperors Gia Long
and Tự Ðức
neither composed verses in nôm like the
Lords Trịnh nor exhorted their subjects to write in nôm. It was, to some extent, both a
heritage from and a kind of outgrowth of the nôm literature in the eighteenth century. In
another respect, it authorizes to suppose that readers of nôm especially on nôm narratives
in verses must have been more and more on the increase in Vietnam. In any case, the fact


is that most of the master-pieces of nôm literature precisely dated from the Nguyễn
dynasty. For lack of space, we will merely mention a few book titles and authors’
names without pretending to give an exhaustive list of the profusion of writings in nôm
which were produced by the nineteenth century. First of all, a place of honor should be
reserved for our National poem of Kim Vân Kiều
a 3254 lục bát line poem by the
famous poet Nguyễn Du
(1765-1820), of which several translations in foreign
languages are available. Next come such writings both in nôm prosa and in verses as
by Poetess Hồ Xuân Hương
(early in the
Xuân Hương thi tập
nineteenth century), Nhị thập tứ hiếu diễn âm
, Phụ châm tiện lãm
, Sứ trình tiện lãm Khúc
by Lý văn Phức
Mai đình mộng Ký
by Nguyễn Huy Hổ
(1783-1841), Kim Thạch Kỳ
by Bùi Hữu Nghĩa
(1807-1872), Lục vân Tiên
, Dương
Từ Hà Mậu
, Ngư Tiều vấn đáp y thuật
by Nguyễn Ðình Chiểu
(1822-1888) Thánh chế Thập điều diễn ca
, Thánh chế Luận ngữ
thích nghĩa ca
Thánh chế tự học giải nghĩa ca
by Tự
and Phan Văn Trị
Ðức (1829-1883), politics inspired poems by Tôn Thọ Tường
, Chính Khí Ca
by Nguyễn văn Giai
, Ðại Nam Quốc sử diễn Ca
by Lê Ngô Cát
and Phạm Ðình Toái
, Hạnh Thục Ca
by Nguyễn Nhược Thị
(1830-1909), poems and songs called Hát Nói by
Nguyễn Công Trứ
(1778-1858), Cao Bá Quát
(?-1854) and Nguyễn Quí
(1811-1858), various poems by Nguyễn Khuyến
(1835-1909), Trần Tế
(1870-1907) etc.
Finally, a special mention should be made of such anonymous narratives in nôm
verses as Nhị độ mai
, Tống Trân
, Thạch Sanh
, Nữ Tú Tài
, Lý Công
, Hoàng Trừu
, Bích Câu
, Phan Trần
Phương Hoa
Quan Âm Thị Kính
, Hoa Ðiểu tranh năng
etc... other nôm narratives
and nôm writings continued to be produced mostly underground even after 1862 until at
. 44)
least the fourties and despite the official adoption of the Quốc Ngữ script
All the nôm literary works mentioned above have been integrally or partly transcribed
in the romanized script. However, such is not the case with a prodigious number of other
nôm texts now stored in Vietnamese and some foreign libraries.45) They are always
waiting for transcription in Quốc Ngữ
to be made by specialists. In another respect,
nôm texts which have been already transcribed have not been free from transcription
errors. Under these conditions, textual criticism is indispensable and it would be possible
only through collation of all the versions available both in nôm and in Quốc Ngữ. As
rightly observed by Dương Quảng Hàm “a true history of Vietnamese literature could be
really undertaken only when all these documents in nôm have been deciphered and
transcribed in Quốc Ngữ.” 46) But, all the nôm texts especially those which require
transcription in Quốc Ngữ are not exclusively limited to literature and there are many
important nôm documents related to Vietnamese history and Vietnames folklore.
In effect, Chữ nôm was not only used by Vietnamese writers for literature but also by
other people for various purposes as early as from the seventeenth century. For example
by a
here is a letter in nôm addressed in 1670 to the Lord Nguyễn Phước Trăn
Japanese named Kadoya Shichirobei
also known under his Vietnamese
name as Cha Chánh
(Father Chánh):
( :


Following is its transcription in Quốc Ngữ “Ông muôn tuổi. Có một em tôi ở đất
Annam nghe rằng đã làm tôi ông, mừng lắm. Dầu muôn lẽ thời đã cậy lòng (or trông) ơn.
Ông muôn tuổi” [English translation: I wish you ten thousands years of life. I heard that
] who is living in Annam has
one of my young brothers [i.e. Shichirojiro
become one of your subjects. I feel much pleasure for it. May I recommend him to your
benevolence under any circumstances. I wish you ten thousands years of life].47)
Always concerning the seventeenth century, let us mention several manuscripts in
nôm from Italian Catholic Father J. Maiorica (1591-1651) found by Prof. Hoàng Xuân
Hãn at the French National Library (Bibliothèque Nationale) in Paris. The titles of these
manuscripts have been transcribed by him as follows. 1) Thiên-Chúa Thánh-giáo Hối tội
Kinh. 2) Thiên-Chúa Thánh-giáo Khai-mông. 3) Ðức Chúa Chi-thu. 4) Truyện Ðức
Chúa Chit-thu. 5) Thiên-Chúa Thánh-Mẫu. 6) Các Thánh truyện. 7)Vita sanctorum (No
title in nôm). 8) Ông Thánh I-na-xu. 9) Ông Thánh Phan-chi-cô Xa-vi-ê truyện. 10)
Ngám lễ trong mùa Phục-sinh đến tháng bảy. 11) Những điều ngám trong các lễ trọng.
12) Kinh những lễ mùa Phục sinh.48)
As just can be seen, Chữ nôm which has so richly and diversely contributed to the
past Vietnamese literature, will remain an indispensable tool of research not only for the
students of the past Vietnamese literature but also for researches on Vietnamese history
and Vietnamese culture.


. Nhà sách Chin Hoa. Saigon 1961.
1) Việt Hán Từ Ðiển Tối Tân
Page 549: Nôm =
2) Việt Nam Tự Ðiển. Hội Khai-Trí Tiến-Ðức Khởi-Thảo. Saigon Hanoi. Văn Mới
1954. 370: Nôm= Tiếng nói thông thường của dân Việt Nam đối với chữ Nho.
3) Ngô Thì Nhậm
(Hải Ðông chí lược).
4) Nguyễn Ðình Hoà, Chữ Nôm, The Demotic System of Writing in Vietnam, Journal
of the American Oriental Society. Volume 79, Number 4, Oct. Dec. 1959. page 271.
6) P. Pelliot, “Première étude sur les sources Annamites de l’histoire d’Annam,”
B.E.F.O. t. IV page 621, note.
7) H. Maspero, “Etudes sur la phonétique historique de la langue Annamite. Les
initiales” B.E.F.O, t. XII, no 1 page 7, note 1.
8) Nguyễn Văn Tố “Phan Kế Bính Việt Hán Văn Khảo, Etudes sur la littérature SinoAnnamite 2 edit.) Hanoi, Editions du Trung-Bắc Tân Văn, 1930 in 8, 175 p.) B.E.F.O, t.
XXX, 1930, Nos. 1-2 Janvier-Juin, pp 141-146.
9) Dương Quảng Hàm, Việt Nam Văn-Học Sử-Yếu, in lần thứ bảy. Bộ Quốc Gia
Giáo Dục, Saigon 1960 page 101.
10) Sở Cuồng, “Chữ nôm với chữ Quốc Ngữ,” Nam Phong, no 172, Mai 1932, pp.
11) Nguyễn Ðổng Chi, Việt Nam Cổ Văn Học Sử, Hàn Thuyên, Hanoi, 1942, pp. 8791.
12) The earliest session of civil service examination in Vietnam dated from 1075
under Lý Nhân Tôn (1072-1127). See Trần Trọng Kim, Việt Nam Sử Lược, in lần thứ
Nhất Trung Bắc Tân Văn, Hanoi 1920, page 81.
13) Nguyễn Quang Xỹ, Vũ Văn Kính Tự-Ðiển Chữ Nôm, Trung Tâm Học Liệu,
Saigon 1971.
14) H. Maspero, “Le dialecte de Tch’ang Ngan,” B.E.F.O, 1920.
Mineya Toru,
47 3 25 .
15) Nguyễn Khắc-Kham, “Foreign borrowings in Vietnamese,” Area and Culture
Studies, no 19, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 1969 pp. 142-175.
16) Kono Rokuro, “The Chinese writing and its influence on the Scripts of the
Neighbouring Peoples with special reference to Korea and Japan.” Memoirs of the
Research Department of the Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library) No 27. The Toyo
Bunko, Tokyo, 1969. pp. 117-123.
page 66.
17) Dương Quảng Hàm, “Le chữ nôm ou écriture démotique. Son importance dans
l’étude de l’ancienne littérature Annamite.” Bulletin de l’Instruction Publique de
l’Indochine No 7, Mars 1942. N.B. Among the examples of this fourth category of chữ
nôm, Dương Quảng Hàm quoted also the grapheme , Sino-Vietnamese reading: vị
(savor, taste) as being used to transcribe the Vietnamese morpheme mùi. However, this
writer thinks that the Chinese character might have been read mùi by the Vietnamese as
early as the beginning of the Chinese T’ang dynasty in imitation of the Chinese reading.
(cf. H. Maspero, “Quelques mots Annamites d’origine Chinoise” B.E.F.E.O, no 3, 1916,


pp. 35-39). Accordingly it might have been a chữ nôm whose date was prior to the eighth
18) R.P. Hồ Ngọc Cẩn, Văn chương An Nam, Littérature Annamite, Imprimerie de la
Société des Missions Etrangères, Hong Kong, 1933. pp. 162-166.
which, according to Hồ Ngọc
19) This example is given by this writer instead of
Cẩn, was used to represnt in nôm răn, rân or rên.
20) This example is given by this writer instead of
which according to Hồ Ngọc
Cẩn could be read lao, lau, trao or trau.
21) Dương Quảng Hàm, op. cited, pp. 279-279b.
,7 no 70, 1968. pp. 15, 16, 25.
22) Dương Quảng Hàm, page 103.
Nguyễn Ðình Hoà, op. cited, page 272.
23) Dương Quảng Hàm, op. cited. page 103.
Mineya Toru, ops. cited.
24) According to Prof. Hoàng Xuân Hãn, Chữ nôm was originally based on phonetic
principle. Later only, it became ideographic by joining together two elements: a phonetic
and a signific, but prior to this last stage, it had made use of few peculiar signs which,
added to the phonetic, indicated that the Chinese character employed as phonetic was
different in meaning from the Vietnamese morpheme to be represented by it in nôm.
Here is an excerpt from his study on Girolamo Maiorica’s nôm works concerning the
matter: “Les Vietnamiens ont cherché à améliorer le système en distinguant la deuxième
catégorie de caractères de la première catégorie par l’accolement aux caractères
“phonétiques” d’un signe particulier dont le sens nous reste encore mystérieux. Enfin la
dernière amélioration consiste à remplacer ce signe par une partie idéographique qui est
un caractère chinois ayant le même sens que le mot Vietnamien qu’on veut transcrire ou
ayant un sens générique se rapportant à ce mot Vietnamien. Voici quelques exemples
illustrant cette méthode. Le sud se dit nam en Vietnamien, mot provenant du caractère
Chinois qui se prononce nan en Chinois actuel. Les Vietnamiens utilisent ce caractère
pour transcrire le son et le mot nam. Or il existe en Vietnamien des sons voisins de ce
dernier, par exemples nam qui a deux sens: cinq et année. Les Vietnamiens ont trancrit
ce son par le même caractère Chinois qui veut dire Sud, parfois en lui accolant un signe
particulier. C’est la méthode purement phonétique. Pour faciliter la lecture et la
compréhension du texte, souvent ils adjoignent au caractère précédent, soit le caractère
Chinois qui veut dire cinq pour le sens cinq, soit le caractère Chinois qui veut dire année
pour le sens année.” Concerning the peculiar sign above, Prof. Hoàng Xuân Hãn has
added the following foot-note “J’ai décelé sept de ces signes, dont deux semblent se
retrouver dans les caractère de Si-Hia (
) pays qui existait au Nord-ouest de la Chine
de l’époque des T’ang jus-qu’à la fin des Song, ce qui me fait penser que les écritures
locales des pays limitrophes de la Chine du temps des T’ang pourraient avoir une origine
commune d’ordre administratif ”.
Hoàng Xuân Hãn, “Giroloam Maiorica, ses oeuvres en langue Vietnamienne
conservées à la Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris. Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu
Extractum e vol. XXII, 1953. Institutum Historicum S.I. Roma, Borgo Santo Spirito, 5
page 206.
25) Hồ Ngọc Cẩn, op. cited page 166.
Nguyễn Quang Xỹ, Vũ Văn Kính, op. cited, pp. 165, 508, 859.

26) According to Prof. Kono Rokuro, the Vietnamese abbreviated form resembles
the abbreviated form of the character for the Korean verb { ha “to do”} in the socalled tho in Ancient Korea. The chữ nôm character , he added, is an abbreviated
form of the character which was used for the word {là “to be”}. This also reminds us
the similar abbreviation in the Korean tho ( , ). Kono Rokuro, op. cited page 101.
See also Mineya Toru, Annango, page 860.
27) Nguyễn Quang Xỹ, Vũ Văn Kính, op. cited, Lời Nói đầu (foreword) page viii.
28) Kanagae Nobumitsu
. Zhonguo yu cidian
, page 612.
29) For further details about the structure of Chữ nôm, see
14 ,1933. pp. 201-242),
,1940. pp. 111-113).
2 , 1935 ).
,1949 .
Bửu Cầm, Dẫn Nhập Nghiên Cứu Chữ Nôm (Teaching material for students of the
Faculty of Letters, University of Saigon).
See also
(2), 1973, 12
(72, 12) (
30) Dương Quảng Hàm, Le Chữ nôm ou écritude démotique etc… pp. 283-284a.
31) Edouard Diguet, “De la Langue Annamite Parlée et Ecrite” Revue Indochinoise,
Aout, 1905, 226-32.
32) Bửu Cầm, “Ưu-điểm và Khuyết-điểm Của Chữ nôm” (Strong points and weak
points of Chữ nôm) Việt Nam Khảo Cổ tập san, Saigon 1960, no 1, pp. 50-64.
Maurice Durand, Comptes rendus, B.E.F.E.O, tome L, fasc, no 2, 1962, page 561.
33) Hoàng Xuân Hãn, Nghiêm Toản, Thi Văn Việt Nam (Từ đời Trần đến cuối đời
Mạc), Các lớp Trung Học. Loại Sách Học Sông Nhị, Hà-Nội 1951. pp. 19-45.
Hoàng Xuân Hãn, “Nguyễn Biểu, một gương nghĩa liệt và mấy bài thơ cuối đời
Trần,” Khai Trí Tiến Ðức Tập San , 2.3, Hanoi 1941.
Lãng-Hồ, “Văn phẩm với Thời Ðại của Văn phẩm. Truyện Trê Cóc và Truyện TrinhThử.” Văn Hóa Nguyệt San, Saigon Tập XII, Quyển 11 (11-1963). pp. 1690-1700.
Lãng-Hồ, “Văn phẩm với Thời Ðại của Văn phẩm, Truyện Vương Tường,” Văn Hóa
Nguyệt San, Saigon Tập XII, Quyển 12 (12-1963). pp. 1893-1898.
Lãng-Hồ, “Văn phẩm với Thời Ðại của Văn phẩm, Những Bài thơ văn của Nguyễn
Biểu, của vua Trần Trùng Quang và của một vị sư Chùa Yên-Quốc,” Văn Hóa Nguyệt
San, Saigon Tập XIII, Quyển 1 (1-1964). pp. 63-70.
34) cf. Shu-King
, 6:
Kinh-Thư, Vietnamese translation by Prof. Thẩm Quỳnh.
Saigon 1968 page 206).
35) Dương Quảng Hàm, Việt Nam Văn Học Sử Yếu page 107.
36) cf. Nguyễn Khắc-Kham, “Vietnamese Names and their peculiarities” Area and
Culture Studies No 23 Tokyo University of Foreign Studies 1973, page 205 foot-note
number 23.
37) Hoàng Xuân Hãn, Nghiêm Toản, op. cited pp. 49-69.
Trần Văn Giáp, Phạm Trọng Ðiềm: Nguyễn Trãi, Quốc Âm Thi Tập (Hanoi, 1956).
Văn-Ðàn Tạp chí, Số Ðặc biệt về Nguyễn Trãi, Bộ IV, số 10 (3/1-9/1, 1963) A
symposium about Nguyễn Trãi and his works, with as participants Phạm Ðình Tân, Thái


Bằng, Vũ Hạnh, Phạm Ðình Khiêm, Nguyễn Khắc-Kham and Nguyễn Trọng Huy, a 16th
generation descendant from Nguyễn Trãi.
38) Dương Quảng Hàm, op. cited pp. 98, 99, 280.
Nguyễn Ðình Hoà Book Review: Introduction à la litterature Vietnamienne by
Maurice M. Durand and Nguyễn Trần Huân. Journal of American Oriental Society. Vol.
92, Number 2, April-June 1972 pp. 364-368.
39) Hoàng Xuân Hãn, Nghiêm Toản op. cited. pp. 101-121.
40) Dương Quảng Hàm op. cited. pp. 302-306.
Nguyễn Văn Tố, “Poésies inédites de l’époque des Lê.” Bulletin de la Société
d’Enseignement Mutuel du Tonkin, Tome XIV, no 1, Janvier-Mars 1934, pp. 30-36.
Tome XIV, no 2, Avril-Juin 1934, pp. 182-190.
Tome XIV, no 3, Juillet-Sept. 1934, pp. 460-463.
41) Sơn-Tùng, Hoàng Thúc Trâm, Quốc văn Ðời Tây Sơn. Sách Hiểu Biết, Vĩnh Bảo
Saigon 1950 123 pages.
42) Phạm Văn Diêu, “Thiên Nam Minh Giám.” Văn Hoá Nguyệt San, Saigon
Loại mới tập XII. Quyển 1, số 77 tháng 1-1963, pp. 49-68.
43) Phạm Văn Diêu, “Thiên Nam Ngữ Lục” V.N.V.H.N.S. Loại mới tập XII, Quyển
3, số 79, tháng 3, 1963, pp. 351-368, Quyển 4 số 80, tháng 4, 1963, pp. 535-550, số 81,
tháng 5, 1963 pp. 689-698, số 82, tháng 6, 1963, pp. 835-847.
44) Hạo-Nhiên, Nghiêm Toản Việt Nam Văn-Học Sử Trích yếu, II, Vĩnh Bảo,
Saigon, 1949 pp. 7-70.
Thanh Lãng, Khởi Thảo Văn-Học Sử Việt Nam. Văn chương Chữ Nôm (Tựa của
Giáo Sư Nguyễn Ðăng Thục). Saigon 1953 pp. 47-212.
Phạm Thế Ngũ, Việt Nam Văn Học Sử Giản ước Tân Biên, Vol. 2 Quốc Học Tùng
Thư, Saigon 1963.
N.B. Concerning the true names of Hồ Xuân Hương and Bà Huyện Thanh Quan
presumed to have been respectively called Hồ thị Mai and Nguyễn thị Hinh, see
Introduction à la littérature Vietnamienne (Collection U.N.E.S.C.O, Introduction aux
litteratures Orientales G. Maisonneuve et Larose Paris, 1969) by Maurice M. Durand and
Nguyễn Trần Huân, pp. 181, 189.
45) Concerning the Collection of Nôm texts at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris,
see: Alexander Barton Woodside, Vietnam and The Chinese Model, A comparative
Study of Vietnamese and Chinese Government in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971 page 323 where we read the
following statement “In Paris, the baffling riches of the fascinating collection of nôm
texts at the Bibliothèque Nationale are a challenge to any scholar.”
46) Dương Quảng Hàm, Le chữ nôm ou Ecriture demotique etc… page 285.
47) Kawashima Motojiro,
, page 469.
48) Hoàng Xuân Hãn, Girolamo Maiorica etc… op. cited pp. 208-213.


Nguyễn Khắc-Kham




Source text: Area and Culture Studies 24, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies 1974.
Electronic edition by Nguyễn Quang Trung and Lê Văn Ðặng, June 2001.