Last update 8/13/2011 8:39:53 AM (GMT+7)

Ministry denies proposing additions to alphabet
VietNamNet Bridge - The Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) does not have any proposal to add four more letters to Vietnam’s current alphabet, chief of its office Nguyen Manh Hung has confirmed in an official document sent to local media.

His confirmation follows recent reports on a proposition by one of the ministry’s arms to add the four F, J, W, and Z to the alphabet, which has 29 letters.

The addition is put forward by some researchers of the ministry’s Department of Information Technology (DIT) only, Hung insisted, adding it thus should not be considered MoET’s official viewpoint.

He said MoET does have plans to prepare a circular which gives guidelines on the use of Vietnamese on computers, and will gather opinions and recommendations from the public via the Internet.

Local media have received many oppositions and severe criticisms targeted at the suggested addition since they published it yesterday.

Many fear the language would be assimilated into other languages that have the four letters in their official alphabets.

Others say the adding would encourage the ‘distortion’ of Vietnamese by ‘licensing’ many local teens to proceed with what they are doing: combining the four with the official letters to make strange and incomprehensible words in chats or on online forums and social networking sites.

DIT director Quach Tuan Ngoc, who is assigned to steer the preparation of the above circular, earlier said that the four letters are widely used in IT, a field the country rates among its top priorities.

It is thus necessary to officially recognize them, he concluded.

Pundits jump into fray to debate alphabet change

Linguists and educationists are pitching into the vigorous public debate that has started over a recent suggestion to add four more letters to the Vietnamese alphabet.

An official from the Ministry of Education and Training had proposed in a draft circular adding F, J, W, and Z to the alphabet, which currently has 29 letters.

Dr Quach Tuan Ngoc had called for the change saying the four were already widely used.

Assoc Prof Dr Pham Van Tinh of the Vietnam Institute of Lexicography and Encyclopedia, told Tuoi Tre that the additions would not have much impact on the Vietnamese language since many foreign words comprising these letters were already used commonly.

However, because of the practical difficulties involved in it – like having to teach children afresh and making changes to books – he said the issue had to be considered carefully.

Assoc Prof Dr Bui Manh Hung of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy said since the changes would cause Vietnamese to lose its distinctive features and also complicate the language, the alphabet should not be changed.

Professor Dr Nguyen Duc Dan of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City said the alphabet should include the four letters since Vietnamese had already become familiar with them, but they should only be used to form borrowed words.

Assoc Prof Dr Trinh Sam, dean of the literature faculty at Hung’s university, and Prof Dr Nguyen Van Khang, deputy director of the Vietnam Institute of Linguistics, were both for the additions.

Dr Vu Thi Sao Chi, editor of a linguistics journal, feared adding the letters would act as a “license” for teenagers to combine them with existing ones to form incomprehensible words.

The public has been writing a flood of letters to the media since the proposal was made Tuesday.

Source: Tuoi Tre