Vietnamese culture appears shallow without Chinese characters, says Chinese writer

The bias many people in China have toward Chinese characters and against romanization is so entirely common that it’s hardly newsworthy. But I should probably bring up examples from time to time, just as a reminder. Here’s one.

The vice president of the Chinese Writers Association, Chen Jiangong (Chén Jiàng?ng / ???), recently gave a wide-ranging talk in Guangzhou. He touched on Vietnam’s adoption of the roman alphabet for its writing system:

Wǒ xiǎngqǐ le wǒmen zài shàng ge shìjì sānshí niándài de shíhou, Gùgōng Bówùyuàn de Yè Péijī yuànzhǎng shuō wénhuà ruò wáng zé yǒng wú bǔjiù, zhè shǐ wǒ xiǎngqǐ wǒ céngjīng fǎngwèn Yuènán de shíhou, jiù fāxiàn Yuènán zhèige mínzú guòqù cǎiyòng de shì Hànzì, zài shàng ge shìjì chū de shíhou, yīnwèi yī ge Fǎguó chuánjiàoshì wèile chuánbō tāmen de Jīdūjiào wénmíng, suǒyǐ jiù fāmíng le Lādīngwén de pīnyīn zìmǔ, Yuènánrén kāishǐ zhújiàn bùyòng Hànzì, jiù yòng Lādīng zìmǔ lái pīn Yuènán wén le, wǒ zài Yuènán fāxiàn tāmen de zuòjiā xiě de wénzhāng dōu shì yòng Lādīng zìmǔ lái pīn, zhèyàng jiù xiǎn de Yuènán de wénhuà gēnjī xiǎnde jíqí fúqiǎn le, wǒ jiù xiǎngqǐ le Yè Péijī de zhè jù huà.

Here’s a paraphrased translation:

In the 1930s Ye Peiji, the head of the Imperial Palace Museum, said that if culture is lost it’s gone forever. When I visited Vietnam I learned that the Vietnamese people once used Chinese characters. But because a French missionary invented a romanization method in order to spread Christianity, Vietnamese people gradually began not to use Chinese characters and instead used romanization for their language. In Vietnam, I discovered that their writers’ works all use romanization. Thus, the foundation for Vietnamese culture appears to be extremely superficial. This immediately brought to mind Ye Peiji’s words.

Pretty typical.

source: Zhùmíng zuòji? Chén Jiàng?ng lùn wénxué: Gu?ngzh?u bù shì wénhuà sh?mò (??????????:????????), Dàyáng W?ng, December 16, 2005