Translation and politics in Vietnam

Authored by: Nhan Van Luong

The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138657564
eBook ISBN: 9781315621289
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter will review the development of translation in Vietnam from its early days to the present, paying special attention to its interaction with politics. The first section, Translation in feudalism will link translation to the development of Vietnamese languages, with a discussion of the milestones in the changes and turns as well as the influences on translation of the shifts in language use from Chữ Hán (Chinese language) to Nôm (early Vietnamese) and from Nôm to Chữ quốc ngữ (modern Vietnamese or the national language). This section also shows the contributions of translation to Vietnamese tradition and culture. The second section, Translation during the Vietnam War 1945–1975, attempts to capture how translation developed in the North and the South when Vietnam was divided into two regions during the war. The synthesis of the translations in these two areas expresses the political function of translation in this time by introducing socialism in the North and individualism in the South. In this section, I also argue against the point of view of some translation scholars in the North who claim that translation in the South during this period was superficial, limited to the field of entertainment, and lacked translations of academic writings. The final section, Translation in Vietnam from 1975 until now, will discuss the new chapter of translation in the era of independence, when the country opened its doors and cooperated with other countries in the world. In this period, translation mostly exerts a cultural function, both with domestic and foreign writing, connecting the past to the present, introducing the world to Vietnam, and advertising the country to the world.

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