Heritage and the Politics of Culture
Co-Authors: Wi-vun Chiung - Professor, National Cheng Kung University
Han characters were introduced from China to Vietnam two millenniums ago. Roman scripts were later on introduced to Vietnam in the late 16th century by Western missionaries. The use of Vietnamese Romanization was mainly limited to church people by the end of 19th century. During the French colonial period of 20th century, it had wider spread. However, it could not achieve the official national orthography until 1945, the year Ho Chi Minh claimed Vietnamese independence. During the French colonial period, the French regime published the first Romanized Vietnamese newspaper Gia Dịnh Bao (1865-1910) in 1865. Truong Vinh Ky (1837-1898) served as the editor-in-chief of Gia Dịnh Bao. Truong was born in a Catholic family in Vinh Long province. He was a talent and skilled in many languages, such as French, Latin, classical Han writing, Nom scripts, Greek, English, Japanese, and Hindi. He also had published hundred books. The purpose of this study is to survey Truong Vinh Ky and Gia Dịnh Bao from the perspective of sociolinguistics and history. In this study, the remaining issues of Gia Dịnh Bao were surveyed and the family members of Truong Vinh Ky were interviewed. The results reveal that Truong’s major contributions are: 1) Translating western classic books and Vietnamese classic books into Romanized Vietnamese, 2) developing textbooks for Vietnamese and French languages learning, and 3) literary creations and research on Romanized Vietnamese.