New Vietnamese Catholic dictionary will help prevent confusion

It contains over 2,000 terms and took nine years to complete
New Vietnamese Catholic dictionary will help prevent confusion

Nuns buy their copies of the Catholic Vietnamese dictionary. ( photo) reporter, Ho Chi Minh
December 12, 2016
The Catholic Church has published a dictionary of Catholic terms in Vietnamese in order to help people understand the Christian faith, evangelize and avoid misunderstanding.

"The Catholic Dictionary is a scholarly work that is very important to the Catholic Church in Vietnam," said Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of Ho Chi Minh City who presided over a special Mass marking the publication of the dictionary on Dec. 9.

Archbishop Doc added that the first ever dictionary would help Catholics understand basic words and phrases relating to catechism, scripture and theology helping them to live out their faith.

He hoped to avoid misunderstandings like one recalled by Bishop Joseph Nguyen Nang, vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, when a group of young people thought the phrase, nhan ban ("human values") referred to human cloning.

Father Peter Nguyen Chi Thiet, head of the Committee for Catholic Vocabulary, told that the work contains 2,022 of the most common words extracted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Old Catholic Vietnamese words that are still in use were also added.


Father Peter Nguyen Chi Thiet (right) introduces the Catholic dictionary in Vietnamese to an audience on Dec.9. ( photo)


Father Thiet said that 150 experts in theology, scripture, morality, liturgy, linguistics and culture wrote the dictionary over nine years.

He said the dictionary would lay the basic foundations for younger generations to further study the Vietnamese language, Christian culture and develop Vietnamese theology.

Vietnamese words in the dictionary are listed next to their Latin, English, French and Chinese equivalents for ease of reference.

Foreign missionaries came to Vietnam in the 16th century and started to develop chu quoc ngu ("national language script") based on the alphabets of Latin and other Roman languages to support local Catholics.

Chu quoc ngu became the modern writing system for the Vietnamese language.

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