The Story
of the
Nôm Lookup Tool


The Project

In the beginning, there was the "syllable". The sound of each Vietnamese syllable can be written two ways: in quốc ngữ, "tiếng", and in chữ Nôm, 㗂. They both sound the same and mean the same.

It is this monumental hidden treasure of the Vietnamese heritage that feeds our dreams. We dream of using chữ quốc ngữ to see how its chữ Nôm looks and to tell how a chữ Nôm sounds like in quốc ngữ. May be it's not the dream for all, but it doesn't matter, as long as it's all about "doing something to help promote and re-discover our Nôm heritage".

Some of us didn't know a thing about Nôm. Some have never met. Yet we became friends, thanks to chữ Nôm, and... thanks to e-mail.

That "something to help promote and re-discover our nôm heritage" gives birth to the Nôm Lookup Tool, an application intended to be a retrieval-system as well as a learning-tool.

Well, it's not a real project because we don't have a formal organization for our group. Sometimes, things may seem to be done chaotically, but at the end our collaboration always works like a charm!

And the dream still goes on...

Geneva & California, 2002.

The Data Sources

  • Tự điển chữ Nôm, by Vũ Văn Kính, 1972
  • Bảng Tra Chữ Nôm, by Hồ Lê, a publication of Viện Ngôn Ngữ Học, 1976
  • Radical dictionary: Từ điển Hán Việt by Thiều Chửu, 1950
  • Chữ Nôm documents: from Nguyễn Quang HồngUniHan Database: a specialized database of The Unicode Consortium.
  • Various electronic data provided by: Ngô Thanh Nhàn, Đỗ Bá Phước, and Ngô Trung Việt.

The Team

  • User requirements: Ngô Thanh Nhàn, Ngô Trung Việt
  • Data Input: Lê Mai Phương, Ngô Trung Việt
  • Design: Lê-Phạm Ngưng Hương
  • Realization: Đỗ Bá Phước, Lê-Phạm Ngưng Hương
  • Packaging & distribution: Hồ Văn Tiến

The Development Tools

  • MySql: an open source DBMS
  • PHP: an open source Web-scripting language VietUni: a java-script component created by Trần Anh Hùng, for typing Vietnamese.
  • Fonts (originally, now replaced):
    – DFSongLight: of Dynalab, including the 9,299 Nôm Ideographs
    – Arial Unicode MS: of Microsoft, including a subset of the CJKV Unified Ideographs.

Please report errors or send comments to Ngô Thanh Nhàn.