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What is "phong trào hóa" in English?


From: Hong Anh Thi Vu <havu@maxwell.syr.edu>
Date: 2008/7/17
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Dear list,

Could someone suggest translation of the term, “phong trào hóa” in English?

Thank you.

Hong Anh

Ph.d Candidate


Syracuse University

From: Hoang Ngo <ngohoang@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Jul 17, 2008 at 3:22 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Hong Anh,

My take on the term is to make something into a movement (phong tra`o). So, the word "popularize" might work. I hope that helps.


From: will pore <willpore@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Jul 17, 2008 at 4:29 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Hong Anh,

Rather than "popularize," a verb, the final syllable (morpheme?) 'hoa'
indicates that the preceding is a noun. So, popularization or
activization would be better.

Will Pore

From: Adam Fforde <adam@aduki.com.au>
Date: Thu, Jul 17, 2008 at 9:36 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

I would think it depends on context. If 'phong trao' is the Leninist term,
referring to a 'movement', such as a 'movement to clean up the streets',
where the Mass Organisations and other structures are in play, and the
practices are coordinated in the familar ways, then the sense is quite
clear - it means to take some existing practice, perhaps of 'civil
society', and turn it (or try to turn it) into such a movement. This has
no easy English equivalent, for obvious reasons. So if this is what is
referred to my advice would be to mark and gloss it.

It could therefore be easily used ironically.

Adam Fforde

From: Hoang t. Dieu-Hien <dieuhien@u.washington.edu>
Date: 2008/7/17
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Along the same line as Adam Fforde's suggestion, I would change the translation of <phong tra`o> to <campaign>, which, to me, gives the same impression of short-sightedness and short-life movement as <phong tra`o>. <Movement>, although correct, feels more positive than <phong tra`o> does to me. Or, for a more cynical meaning of <phong tra`o>, I would use <fad>.

On <hoa'>, its presence actually turns a term into a verb. For example, to <Vie^.t hoa'> something is to <Vietnamize> it.

Therefore, <phong tra`o hoa'> is to <turn something into a campaign/movement/fad>. Hoang's choice of <popularize> is elegant and succinct. However, when <phong tra`o hoa'> is used cynically, then, in my opinion, <popularize> is not cynical enough even in its most cynical meaning.

Would love to hear more thoughts on this.


From: Hong Anh Thi Vu <havu@maxwell.syr.edu>
Date: 2008/7/18
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Thanks everyone who have contributed to clarifying the term "phong trào hóa". As Adam said, it depends on the context. The term was used to refer to the phenomenon of farmers adopting new crops for their potential profit without taking into consideration potential risks. For instance, when cow could fetch 5 million VND each, everyone wanted to raise cow. The same was true with pigs. When faced with losses due to price falls and disease outbreaks, as it has happened with pigs, cows, and shrimp in the Mekong Delta in recent years, farmers immediately stopped farming what they were doing for fear that they would not be able to break even. "Phong trào" could have started with a government policy, but many times, "phong trào" was initiated by farmers themselves. So I guess starting as a movement mobilized by the government, the term gradually picked up new meanings. Nevertheless, as chi Hien suggested, it carries negative connotation. Until we find a better match in English, I would perhaps use "popularize" with a footnote.

Thanks again.

Hong Anh

From: vsg-bounces@mailman1.u.washington.edu on behalf of Adam Fforde
Sent: Fri 7/18/2008 1:57 AM
To: Vietnam Studies Group
Subject: Re: [Vsg] what is "phong trà o hóa" in English?


Since the dominant English dialects of VSG are American, then surely
political experience there is a resource that can be tapped? If the 'old
boys' decide to get on board and take over some popular set of activities
so as to turn them to their own nefarious purposes, then what would that
be called? 'Campaignize'? Or what? What do the more radical Obamistas
mutter when their activities get taken over (or so they think) by 'the


From: Frank <frank.proschan@yahoo.com>
Date: 2008/7/18
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

How about "herd mentality"? But isn't that behaviour almost an occupational requirement to qualify as a farmer? This year Farmer X makes a killing on snow peas, so next year everyone grows snow peas, the price collapses, and everyone loses money, except Farmer Y who happened to plant cherry tomatoes, and she makes a killing on tomatoes, so next year everyone grows cherry tomatoes, the price collapses, etc. Has there ever been a market-sensitive farming economy anywhere that didn't exhibit this pattern (excepting subsistence farming for self-consumption)? Surely there are ag economists who've written dissertations on this...


Frank Proschan

From: will pore <willpore@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 3:22 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

If you use "popularize" for 'phong trao hoa,' it's still wrong, as I
pointed out, because that is a verb and that term translated into
English must be a noun. In other words, you should use

Will Pore

From: Hong Anh Thi Vu <havu@maxwell.syr.edu>
Date: 2008/7/18
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Hi Frank, Your suggestion reminds me of the "phong trào buôn c? phi?u", or the craze around the stock market that took place in Vietnam last year and earlier this year immediately after the Lunar New Year. So the "herd mentality" exists not only among farmers, but non farmers as well. A similar term is "mob mentality". How different are the two?

Relating to this question, could you, and others, suggest some readings on the history of the "herd mentality"? Is it a typical response in the market economy? or has it been observed in other economic systems?

Criticism of the "herd mentality" in the Mekong Delta was made by some local farmers. I also noticed that the "herd mentality" seems much stronger in the South as compared with other regions of Vietnam and wonder if others would agree and if so, why that is the case.

Will Pore, the Vietnamse term "phong trào hóa" can be both a verb and a noun. Can you suggest how to use it as an adjective, or "tính phong trào"?


Hong Anh

From: Shawn McHale <mchale@gwu.edu>
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 3:55 AM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>


That is uncalled for. To call someone who is accomplished and learned the opposite does not reflect well on the accuser.

To the issue at hand, translation: If one looks at Huynh Sanh Thong's translation of the Tale of Kieu, one finds that he routinely violates "rules" of translation.

Take the first lines of the Tale of Kieu:

Tram nam trong coi nguoi ta/
Tai menh ghet nhau

Thong translate the second line something like (I don't have his book in front of me):

Talent and destiny are apt to feud.

A rather free translation, I'd say. I'm not sure I like it. But it is vivid, conveys the sense of the original reasonably well. It underlines, I think, that some translators focus on making sense in the target language, others on adhering more to the source language.

When translating Vietnamese bureaucratese, one is almost compelled to modify lest one come up with gobbledygook. Surely no one would say that one HAD to translate the word "qua trinh" (process) every time we see it? Most of the time, this has become an almost meaningless filler word. The words with "-hoa" endings are problems, as sometimes in English we have decent equivalents, and sometimes not. So why stick to "rules" when felicity of the translation is the goal?

Shawn McHale
Associate Professor of History and International Affairs George Washington University


From: Hue-Tam Ho Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 7:32 AM
To: "vsg >> Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>

The use of hoa to convert a noun into a verb seems to be the result of German influence. Some of this happens in English, much to the dismay of purists (strategize comes to mind) but much less often.
Right now, I cannot think of a word for word English equivalent for phong trao hoa, although the phenomenon certainly exists in the US, land of fads! Something becomes a trend, a fad, a movement, a campaign, depending on the context. The "hoa" underlines the process of becoming.

On a tangential note: I have known Adam Fforde since he returned from spending one year in Vietnam in 1979--that was nearly thirty years ago. Adam has spent thirty years pondering the meaning of bureaucratic Vietnamese as well as the everyday language. I can think of no one else who can do regional accents as well as Adam.

I hope that Judith Henchy will step in to remind all of the rules for posting in VSG, in particular as regards courtesy.

Hue-Tam Ho Tai

From: will pore <willpore@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 10:20 AM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

The attribution of a "German influence" in the translation of
Vietnamese terms ending in 'hoa' is new to me. (Could you please
explain that?) But the addition of 'hoa' to Vietnamese nouns such as
'phong trao' or 'hien dai' (to modernize or modernization) makes them
either verbs or nouns depending on the context, does it not?

Will Pore

From: Hue-Tam Ho Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: 2008/7/19
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

About the German influence, this is only speculation on my part, based on the idea that in German new words are much more easily formed than in either French or English.

As for nouns and verbs in Vietnamese, I think that Vietnamese grammar is very flexible and Vietnamese may be less preoccupied with proper grammatical usage than non-Vietnamese.

In the case of phong trao hoa, the addition of hoa would turn the phrase into a verb, I would think.

Regarding Adam's example of "nha nuoc hoa" a phrase that combines Vietnamese and Chinese, I am reminded of Ho Chi Minh's attempt to purge the Vietnamese language of as much Chinese as possible. It gave rise to such monstrosities as "dong chi gai" instead of nu dong chi. Older people can still chuckle at the memory.

Hue-Tam Ho Tai

From: will pore <willpore@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 2:35 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Thanks for your clarifications.
Ho Chi Minh's attempt to make Vietnamese more Vietnamese has a
corollary in early twentieth century Korean attempts to purify Korean
by using native words instead of imported ones, i.e. even the long
used Chinese derived ones. It was a failure - something like trying to
substitute only Anglo-Saxon-based words in modern English for things
like refrigerator or satellite.


From: David Marr <dgm405@coombs.anu.edu.au>
Date: 2008/7/21
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

This lively exchange once again demonstrates the need for a Vietnamese etymological dictionary. For starters, however, can someone go to a Chinese or Japanese dictionary to see if `hoa' used in this way precedes western contact or not?

`Phong trao' has been used in different ways over the years in Vietnam. During the 1930s it had an autonomous, more social connotation, which I would translate as `movement'. By the late 1940s the DRV state and the ICP were initiating `phong trao', which is then better translated as `campaign'. In mid-1960s South Vietnam, the students wanted to lead a revolutionary `phong trao' outside state control.

In my reading of 1930s-1960s Vietnamese books and articles, I've never come across the term 'phong trao hoa'. I suspect it was coined after 1975 as an ironic commentary on Party `campaign-itis'.

Just think how many other words are out there deserving of more rigorous historical treatment!
David Marr

From: <bcampdvs@u.washington.edu>
Date: Mon, Jul 21, 2008 at 8:19 PM
Subject: [Vsg] Phong Trào Hoá: a speculative etymology
To: vsg@u.washington.edu

In response to Professor Marr's query:

Below are some notes on 'Hoa,' speculations about its history, and various readings of the Chu read in Han-Viet as "Hoa/". This is an attempt at a preliminary historical etymology and in no way seeks to domesticate the verdant playfulness of parole with dusty, sterile dictionaries.

The ideograph/character/ch&#7919; which in Han-Viet is pronounced 'Hoá' seems to have carried the meaning "to change or transform" since the 2nd Century CE. According to the Kangxi (Khang Hy) Dictionary, compiled in the 18th century, Xu Shen's Shuowen Jiezi (Thuyet Van Giai Tu), a collection of etymologies compiled during the Han Dynasty, associated 'Hoa' with transformation.

Much earlier, the Dao De Jing (Dao Duc Kinh) contains one of the earliest uses (according to the Khang Hy) of the term read in Han Viet as Bie/n Hoa/, meaning to change or transform. So, it might be either a combination of two words having the same meaning for emphasis or a 'hoa'-ing similar but likely not related to contemporary Vietnamese practice.

The -Matthews' Chinese-English Dictionary-, a frequently-consulted 19th-20th century lexicon, lists several "verbs" formed with "Hoa," 'Hua' in pinyin. Many of these, such as Ouzhouhua (Au Chau Hoa/Europeanize) are surely neologisms, but the core meaning of 'transform' conveyed by Hua is, in my opinion, consistent. One such Neologism among many that persists in contemporary Vietnamese is the term for chemistry, "Hoa Hoc," the study of change, if a grossly literal rendering can be forgiven.

In terms of Vietnamese sources, the -Dai Tu Dien Chu Nom- compiled by Truong Dinh Tin and Le Quy Nguu indexes four pronunciations for this particular Chu with definitions:
p56: 1. Goa/ - to beat a spouse to death. A "Nom" reading.
2. Hoa/ - To change form, to die, to be born. A "Han" reading.
3. Hue^/ - The colloquial name for the Nguyen capital. A "Nom" reading
4. Hoe/ - Onomatopoetic term for crying: "kho/c hoe/ hoe/." "Nom" Reading

Unfortunately, the DTDCN does not provide complete etymological explanations, but the compilers do note the association of reading 2 with Buddhism.

The "Nom" reading in 3, as Professor Tai pointed out, indicates a local pronunciation of the official name for Hue, Thuan Hoa.

Bradley Davis

Bradley C Davis
PhD Candidate
Department of History
University of Washington

From: Hue-Tam Ho Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: 2008/7/21
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

In Vietnamese, I can only think of Thuan Hoa --> Hue. Very loosely translated, it would be "transformed into conformity."

Hue-Tam Ho Tai

From: Ngô Thanh Nhàn <nhan@temple.edu>
Date: 2008/7/21
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Dear David,

I think you're right that suffix hoá needs a historical treatment.
But one has to differentiate between hoá 化 and hoá 貨. We
are talking about hoá 化.

I really dig your phong trào hoá "campaign-itis" with -hoá "-itis".
I think someone was right who said that -hoá is a new productive
word formation (suffix), perhaps since Hoàng Xuân Hãn [HXH]
scientific dictionary.

I looked in Phật thuyết đại báo phụ mẫu ân trọng kinh, and found
no hoá. In Kiều, there is only hoá công and hoá nhi. And I also
-- in buddhism, hoá means to go into another (next) world.
-- hoá widowed.
-- văn hoá (văn is văn vật and hoá is giáo hoá according to
Đào Duy Anh in Hán Việt tự điển, 1957 [ĐDA], as a
compound). You can find this hoá in phụ nhân nan hoá, etc.
-- tiêu hoá, ĐDA said "làm cho chất đặc hoá ra lỏng,
có hoá ra không". I also found the same in Huình Tịnh
Paulus Của 1895 [HTC].
-- hoả hoá, HTC said "nhờ hơi lửa, hơi nóng mà tiêu hoá
(vật thực)" while ĐDA said "lấy lửa đốt thây người chết
-- sinh hoá = hoá sinh, and sinh sinh hoá hoá, hoá is a word
on its own, and sinh hoá is a compound word. ĐDA said
tạo hoá = sáng tạo và hoá sinh.
-- in place names, Thuận hoá, Thanh hoá, Hưng hoá, Lạc
hoá (in Vĩnh Long), Quang hoá (in Tây Ninh), ... (from
HTC). Can this hoá be a suffix to mean "turn anew"?

I do have an etymology ideogram dictionary by Lê Ngọc Trụ.
I or someone will report on what dictionary says.

So, I found only "tiêu hoá" and "hoả hoá" before HXH which
might be a suffix. The place names with hoá, I agree
with you, David, that needs a historical treatment also.


From: Adam Fforde <adam@aduki.com.au>
Date: 2008/7/21
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

OK, so how did the Vietnamese translator who did the voice over for 'Cat
Woman' deal with 'time to accessorize'?


From: Hue-Tam Ho Tai <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: 2008/7/21
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Thanks, anh Nhan. I am minded of the first line of Ba Huyen Thanh Quan in Thang Long tuc canh:

"Tao hoa nen chi cuoc hi truong."

Hua in Chinese also has the meaning of "civilizing" (through transformation).

Hue-Tam Ho Tai

From: will pore <willpore@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 21, 2008 at 10:37 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

According to the etymological dictionary I consulted, the
syllable/morpheme 'hoa' (Chinese: hua) alone or in compound form
rendering the meaning of transformation or change or becoming, which
is, I think, what -ize/-ization conveys in English, exists in examples
from the "Analects" and "The Doctrine of the Mean." But, I would
suppose, based on Lyia Liu's book (forget the exact title) that the
ancient Chinese usage (like many others) was first given new life when
the Japanese were coining terms in the late nineteenth century and was
reintroduced into Chinese and then copied by the Vietnamese. The
Chinese translator Yan Fu, however, may have had a hand in this too.

Will Pore

From: B Dwyer <anthrobfd@hotmail.com>
Date: 2008/7/23
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Just want clarification
so does this mean I can use trong hoa - as in when you are gardening, and, he thong hoa as in systematizing a process or something but can or cannot use phong trao hoa as in campaignise? everyone here says I shouldnt use it like that - is it a literary thing or something?

From: Adam Fforde <adam@aduki.com.au>
Date: Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 5:16 AM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

I do not share the view that the awful English term 'campaignise' does not
deal with the translation problem. For me it works and works well, not
least as it is not very nice English. Neither is 'accessorise', but that
works too.

If I hear a Vietnamese say 'phong trao hoa', and I can imagine this
happening with little difficulty, then I would feel, as David suggested,
that it was probably ironic, and referred, as I put in an earlier posting,
to some official attempt to take some popular set of activities and
present or organise them as a Leninist 'movement' or 'campaign'. If I had
to translate this I would be quite happy using the terrible English-ism of
'movementise' or 'campaignise', with the apostrophes understood. Indeed,
if I were discussing standard VCP tactics in the face of what some call
the emergent Vietnamese 'civil society' I would expect to have to use the
term 'phong trao hoa' rather often. 'Campaignise' would seem to be useful
to refer to efforts by political machines to capture popular movements in
other contexts, and has the advantage that 'campaign' seems to refer
already to something formal, whereas movement does not necessarily.

Another example of the power and economy of Vietnamese using this grammar
that VSG may like to consider is the marvellous expression 'thich nghi
hoa', which I heard a very intelligent and articulate Vietnamese use to
refer to what he saw as a process of interaction between 'North and south'
after 1975; specifically, he said, if I remember rightly, that the key
element of post-1975 Vietnamese history was the 'qua trinh thich nghi hoa
Bac-Nam'. This seems far harder still than 'phong trao hoa' to render into
some intellible English, if not impossible, though I find it quite
understandable if not illuminating. I would welcome elucidation as to just
what the symantic range of 'nghi' here is. I brought this up with a group
of colleagues at the recent Hamburg EuroViet. The foreigners understood
it, and were all good Vietnamese speakers, but were baffled as how to
translate it (there were perhaps half a dozen European languages
available) whilst a Vietnamese, who also found it intelligible - and
perhaps thought-provoking - said that 'nghi' here had some meaning related
to 'life'. What is the character, and what is the difference, clearly
intended by the original source, between 'thich nghi' and the far more
common term 'thich hop'? I suppose this will also come down to the
etymology of 'thich' in this instance. Illumination would be greatly



From: B Dwyer <anthrobfd@hotmail.com>
Date: 2008/7/23
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Thanks Adam,

I see your point. I suppose im trying to figure out from this the distinction between say Xa Hoi hoa = as in anybody can join something that was not possible to join before, and than thanh hoa as in turning someone into a "special" person but phong trao hoa is sort of making something into a campaign or many campaigns - sort of thing.


From: Adam Fforde <adam@aduki.com.au>
Date: Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 4:25 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

I once found myself going into London dialect when translating an
interview simultaneously for Robert Chambers, and I think you capture the
'sort of', 'kind of' tags needed to attempt some translations very well.
Like. I agree.

That is sort of what I was trying to get at with 'accessorise' ...

We await the heavy artillery on 'thich nghi hoa' ...


From: <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 5:48 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

On "thich nghi hoa": leaving aside the hoa which is equivalent to "ize" (in
American English), the DDA dictionary has: "vua dung voi tinh the ay" which
would translate as just right for that situation."
My other dictionary (1954) gives a definition "vua hop voi cai nen" (just
conforming to what should be)and an example "cach an mac khong thich nghi"
(inappropriate dress). The Chinese character for nghi is translated in both
as "ne^n" This is why I recall it being used in contexts that were moralistic
and legalistic, sometimes in lieu of thich dang (as in punishments) or in
association with rituals (as in appropriate dress in the example above).

But I don't know what "thich nghi hoa Bac Nam" would mean. Can you translate or
give an example of how that phrase has been used?

Hue-Tam Ho Tai

From: Adam Fforde <adam@aduki.com.au>
Date: Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 6:16 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

My sense of what was meant was that there had been a process whereby
North-South 'relations', or rather their co-existence, had become better,
more appropriate, more balanced etc - fundamentally, that both had reacted
to each other's presence within the unity in a positive way.

Like ...

PS I like 'tinh the', which is one way of translating, for me 'order' in
the wider sense that 'trat tu'.

From: Adam Fforde @ UoM <fforde@unimelb.edu.au>
Date: Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:41 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

Is that the same 'nen' as the 'nen mong', 'nen van hoa', loosely translated
as ? Intriguing.

From: <hhtai@fas.harvard.edu>
Date: Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 2:54 PM
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>

No, it's nen, with circumflex accent, but no diacritic--no tone. "Thich nghi"
conveys the sense of appropriateness, as in "nhung bien phap thich nghi"
"appropriate measures" in other words, measures that should be taken, "nhung
bien phap nen lay."



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