Chữ Nôm

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below: Example of the classic writing of the Vietnamese language ( Chữ Nôm ) ( Tôi nói tiếng Việt nam in German: I speak Vietnamese )
The articles Hán Nôm and Chữ Nôm overlap thematically. Help me to better differentiate or merge the articles (→  instructions ) . To do this, take part in the relevant redundancy discussion . Please remove this module only after the redundancy has been completely processed and do not forget to include the relevant entry on the redundancy discussion page{{ Done | 1 = ~~~~}}to mark. FordPrefect42 ( discussion ) 10:16, Apr 17, 2013 (CEST)

Chữ Nôm ( ? 喃 , also ? 喃 / 字 喃 ) is the classic writing system of the Vietnamese language and is based on the ideographs of the Chinese language ( Hán Tự ). Until the 17th century, Vietnamese was written exclusively in the Chữ-Nôm system. The fact that a script based primarily on the Chinese characters was used to reproduce the phonology of the Vietnamese language made it very complex and difficult to learn. It was used exclusively by the Chinese-trained Vietnamese elite. Was used Chữ-Nom to the 20th century and worked as a Vietnamese read Chinese writing, which includes new characters for display specific Vietnamese sounds or syllables. Very few Vietnamese are still able to read Chữ Nôm these days .

Chữ Nôm  was later completely replaced by Quốc Ngữ ( 國語 ), Vietnam's current writing system to this day. Quốc Ngữ was developed by Portuguese and French missionaries with knowledge of the language to record the Vietnamese language and to facilitate literacy. Quốc Ngữ includes a system of diacritical marks to indicate tones , as well as modified vowels.


It is believed that Chữ Nôm, earlier also Quốc âm ( 國 音 ), originated around the 10th century . The old name of Vietnam , Đại Cồ Việt ( 939 ) ( 大 瞿 越 ) uses Quốc âm . The oldest surviving testimony in Chữ Nôm dates from 1209 and is on a stele of a temple in Bảo Ân ( 保 恩 ). Another Chữ-Nôm inscription was found on a bronze tube at the Vân-Bản ( 雲 岅 ) pagoda in Đồ Sơn ( 徒 山 ). It dates from 1076 , but there are doubts as to the correctness of the date.

After Vietnam gained independence from China in 939 , scholars began developing Chữ Nôm , a logographic script that represents the Vietnamese language. For the next nearly 1,000 years - from the 10th to the 20th centuries - much of Vietnamese literature , philosophy, history, law, medicine, religion, and government policy was written in Nom script. During the 14-year-long rule of the Tay-Sơn Dynasty ( 西山 ) ( 1788 - 1802 ) all administrative documents in chữ nôm were held in classical Chinese written. In the 18th century , many well-known Vietnamese writers and poets wrote their works in chữ Nôm, u. a. Nguyễn Du ( 阮 攸 ) and Hồ Xuân Hương ( 胡春香 ). With the invention of Quốc Ngữ in the 17th century - the modern Romance script - Chữ Nôm gradually died out. In 1920 it was abolished by the colonial government. Today, fewer than 100 scholars can actually read Chữ Nôm. Much of Vietnam's written records are inaccessible to the 80 million Vietnamese speakers. A few Buddhist monks and the Jing ( ), the Vietnamese living in China, can read chữ Nôm to a certain extent.

The Vietnamese government is making efforts to integrate Chữ Nôm into the education system. Chữ-Nôm characters were encoded in Unicode . Software has been developed to make the writing system available to the computer, and computer fonts containing Chữ Nôm characters have only recently been developed.

Writing system

In Vietnam, Chinese characters were originally only used to write Chữ nho ( ? 儒 ) ( Classical Chinese ). In Chữ Nôm the use of these characters was expanded in many ways. In addition, a large number of new characters were invented by Vietnamese writers.


There are many Classical Chinese words that have found their way into the Vietnamese language through borrowing. These loanwords were written using the original Chinese character ( hán tự ). Examples: vị ( ) “taste” (Mandarin: wèi ), niên ( ) “year” (Mandarin: nián ). In addition, there are many loan words from Chinese in Vietnamese, e.g. Some of those that were adopted before Chinese characters were introduced in Vietnam, and which have therefore retained a different pronunciation. These words are also designed from the corresponding characters in Classical Chinese. Examples: mùi ( ) (synonymous with vị , taste), năm ( or ? ) (synonymous with niên , year). Often both versions are written with one and the same character, which significantly reduces the writing effort and the number of characters required. For many Vietnamized Chinese words, for example, there is no chu nom that would allow a distinction to be made from normal Chinese borrowing. How the character has to be read can then be seen from the context. So one would read in 字 喃 as chữ, in 喃 字 one would read it tự. In Vietnamese, compound words usually appear upside down: Adjectives are appended to nouns and do not precede them as in Chinese.

Phonetic borrowing of characters

Many genuine Vietnamese words were written using non-meaningful characters ( chữ giả tá ( ? 假借 ), incorrect loanwords ). Such a character is only used again for its pronunciation. Its original meaning is rejected. This gives the character a second meaning. A character is often given different meanings through phonetic borrowing.

Invention of characters

Many new characters were invented for genuine Vietnamese words (called chữ thuần nôm ( ? 純 喃 ), or nôm for short ). These new characters are based on phonetic borrowing and add a semantic component indicating the new meaning, resulting in a new, separate character. In some cases, a resulting character looks like an existing Chinese, but with a different meaning.


In 1867 , Nguyễn Trường Tộ ( 阮長祚 ) intended to standardize chữ Nôm, but the new system ( Quốc Âm Hán Tự ( 國 音 漢字 )) was rejected by Emperor Tự Đức ( 嗣 德 ). Until then, chữ Nôm was never officially standardized. As a result, there are many different characters for originally Vietnamese words. As a writer of texts in Nom you always follow certain selection principles.

Chữ-nôm software

There are a number of software tools that produce Chữ-Nôm characters by simply writing Vietnamese words in Quốc ngữ.

  • Vietnamese Keyboard Set allows you to write chữ Nôm in Mac OS X.
  • WinVNKey is a Windows-based Vietnamese keyboard driver that supports chữ Nôm.

Web links