Ancient Vietnamese Writings Translated to Romanized Script, Displayed in France
|A number of ancient Quoc Ngu script publications are on display at the BULAC in Paris. PHoto: VNA|
This is the first time that publications bearing ancient Vietnamese scripts have been introduced within the framework of the exhibition "Quoc Ngu, a fundamental factor in the renewal of Vietnamese culture from 1860 to 1945."
The exhibits include the first novels of Vietnam written in Western style such as “Thay Lazaro Phien” (Teacher Lazaro Phien) by Nguyen Trong Quan which was published in 1887, or “Chuyen doi xua” (The story of old life), which was released in 1866, and translated versions of some well-known Chinese and French works such as "The Story of Three Kingdoms" (1909) and “The Miserables” (1926). There are also the first issues of Gia Dinh newspaper published in July 1865 or Nam Phong magazine (1923).
On display are over 20 publications chosen among more than 1,000 works published during the first development stage of Quoc Ngu (romanized Vietnamese script) in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, that the Languages and Civilizations University Library (BULAC) collected.
According to Nguyen Thi Hai, who is in charge of the exhibition, BULAC's Vietnamese script is one of the oldest collected and preserved in France.
She said Vietnamese has been taught in Paris since 1869 in free lessons at the Sorbonne University. It was not until the period 1871-1872 that this subject was officially put into teaching at the School of Oriental Languages, now the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO).
At that time, the school cooperate with many scholars in South Vietnam such as Truong Vinh Ky, Truong Minh Ky to bring Vietnamese publications, books, stories, and newspapers to France.
By the early 20th century, the French government supported the spread of Quoc Ngu script, and many Vietnamese publications were collected at the Interuniversity Library of Oriental Languages (BIULO) and the French School of the Far East (EFEO).
Those books were later transferred to BULAC and this library became one of the largest and oldest Vietnamese script treasures in France, with a volume of up to 13,000 titles (16,500 books). There are more than 9,000 titles in Vietnamese, about 100 newspapers and academic journals, of which about 20 are still current today.
|Nguyen Thi Hai introduced to the Vietnamese Ambassador to France Dinh Toan Thang the Vietnamese publications at the BULAC in Paris.|
BULAC also received nearly a hundred materials in Han Nom (Sino-Vietnamese characters), mainly literary works, collected from the BIULO library and donated personal collections, including two editions of the famous "The Tale of Luc Van Tien" published bilingually in Han Nom and Quoc Ngu in 1874 and "Kim Van Kieu Truyen" in 1871.
|"The Tale of Luc Van Tien" in Quoc Ngu script printed in 1883. Photo: VNA|
1.5 million documents and publications in 350 languages
Benjamin Guichard, scientific director of BULAC, said that the library was established in 2011, bringing together more than 1.5 million documents and publications in 350 languages and 80 scripting systems around the world.
“This is the only library in France, even in Europe, that collects documents in more than 350 languages of the world. All scripting systems kept in the library are collected from the mid-19th century.
This year, the library celebrates the 150th anniversary of this vast collection of linguistic, literary, and knowledge. Among the documents, the Vietnamese collections are among the oldest in Asia.
Dating from the mid-19th century, they are associated with the colonial history of Vietnam, the history of French domination, and the exchange between Vietnamese and French scholars. They are represented by rare documents, among the first Vietnamese documents printed in Latin characters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” he said.
|The exhibition gives the public a clear perspective on the development process of Vietnamese scripts.|
Benjamin Guichard also added that this rich treasure of Vietnamese scripts attracted many experts and scholars, graduate students and students.
They searched for materials on Vietnam, as well as ancient documents and literary publications written in Han Nom and Quoc Ngu script.
For decades, BULAC maintained the collection of documents with Vietnamese scripts. Every year, the library buys about 200 hundred books in Vietnamese to update new research on Vietnam.
These documents, mostly collected in Vietnam, some are from Russia, France, the United States or other countries around the world. Benjamin Guichard expressed his desire to receive more original Vietnamese-language publications, on diverse topics, to enrich Vietnamese scripts at BULAC.
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