The Sound of Tang Poetry and Sino-Vietnamese Phí Minh Tâm Hard to know



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The Sound of Tang Poetry and Sino-Vietnamese

Phí Minh Tâm

Hard to know: Regulated verses of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, when recited in Sino-Vietnamese, have correct rhyme and rhythm and thus sound better than when read in any current Chinese dialects.

The Tang Dynasty of China (618-908) left to the World civilization an invaluable literary treasury of about 50,000 poems ( Táng shī) by more than 2,500 poets. These poems are collected and stored in the Full Tang Poetry Library (全唐诗库)on the Internet. Among the authors are well known poets such as: Li Po, To Fu, Wang Wei…with regulated poems (律 詩 lǔ shī) well nown around the world. In this article we concentrate the discussions on regulated poems written during the Tang Dynasty only. Regulated poems written in accordance with the Tang Rules of Poetry, but during different periods of time (more recent times), are not related to these discussions and are not subjects of consideration in this article.



Requirements of a Regulated Verse

A good regulated verse, beyond its good meaning and spirit, must meet requirements in structure, symmetry and parallelism, tone, tone rule, locking, and rhyme to create a musical rhythm for the poem (See Rules of Tang Poetry). Consider Autumn Aspirations by Tu Fu:




Rules:

1. T T B B T T B


2. B B T T T B B
3. B B T T B B T
4. T T B B T T B
5. T T B B B T T
6. B B T T T B B
7. B B T T B B T
8. T T B B T T B


秋興 - 杜甫

玉露凋傷楓樹林
巫山巫峽氣蕭森


江間波浪兼天湧
塞上風雲接地陰
叢菊兩開他日淚
孤舟一繫故園心
寒夜處處催刀尺
白帝城高急暮砧

 Sino-Vietnamese Transliteration

Thu Hứng  - Đỗ Phủ

1. Ngọc lộ điêu thương phong thụ lâm


2. Vu Sơn, Vu Giáp khí tiêu sâm
3. Giang gian ba lãng kiêm thiên dũng
4. Tái thượng phong vân tiếp địa âm
5. Tùng cúc lưỡng khai tha nhật lệ
6. Cô chu nhất hệ cố viên tâm
7. Hàn y xứ xứ thôi đao xích
8. Bạch Đế thành cao cấp mộ châm 

B: level tone that is optional (不論, bù lún)

B: level tone that is abiding (分明 fēn míng)

B: level tone that is locking

B: level tone rhyme

T: slant tone that is optional



T: slant tone that is abiding

T: slant tone that is locking

According to the Sino-Vietnamese transliteration, this poem is a seven character eight line regulated verse with slant tone rule (character 2 of line 1 has slant tone), level rhyme (last character of line 1 has level tone); lines 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8 rhyme (âm); lines 1, 4, 5 and 8 lock; lines 2, 3, 6 and 7 lock; lines 3 and 4 and lines 5 and 6 are parallel and symmetrical in vocabulary and meanings; lines 1, 2, 3 and 5 use the exception rule that allows the word tone to be either level or slant.




Autumn Inspirations – Tu Fu

Jade dew covers the maple forest

Bleak mist fills the Wu mountain and gorge

In the river, big waves jump to the sky

On the city gate, dark clouds touch the ground

Second chrysanthemum blossom adds to tears of past

A lone boat mooring reminds me of my home garden

Everywhere people are busy making winter cloth

In Bai Di, toward the afternoon, the washing mallets sound level more pressing.


Vietnamese poetic translation:

Cảm Hứng Mùa Thu - Đỗ Phủ

Rừng phong sương trắng cảnh tiêu điều

Hiểm trở ngàn non thu hắt hiu

Sóng vọt lưng trời sông cuộn cuộn

Mây sà mặt đất ải cô liêu

Hai lần khóm cúc khơi nguồn lệ

Một lượt con thuyền trói dấu yêu

Dao thước rộn ràng may áo lạnh

Chày vang thành Bạch bóng về chiều.

The structure of the poem, its meaning, its symmetry and parallelism…do not change if the characters/words do not change. However, if the sound or pronunciation of the characters/words change, the tone and rhyme may have changed.

If the pronunciation/sound of the last character of any lines 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 changes, the verse may be out of rhyme. If the tone of the second character of line 1 changes from level to slant or from slant to level, the tone requirement for all the characters in the entire verse is different. If the tone of any characters in any lines changes from level to slant or from slant to level, the verse is out of lock. If the tone of any characters in any lines 3, 4, 5, and 6 changes from level to slant or from slant to level, the lines are no longer symmetric and parallel in tone and vocabulary.

Thus, even if the regulated verse has not changed in its appearance (the way it written or presented), its meaning has not changed, with a change in pronunciation or tone, the verse can be out of rhyme and rhythm, and out of lock. Those are important requirements of a good Tang regulated verse.

Below are the transliterations of Tu Fu Autumn Aspirations into Mandarin Pinyin and Yutping Cantonese. In the Pinyin transliteration, the aberrations from the Tang Poetry rules appear in the rhyming (lín versus sēn) and the locking in lines 2, 5 and 7. In the Cantonese transliteration, the rhyming is good, however lines 5 and 7 are out of lock.




Rules:

1. T T B B T T B


2. B B T T T B B
3. B B T T B B T
4. T T B B T T B
5. T T B B B T T
6. B B T T T B B
7. B B T T B B T
8. T T B B T T B

Mandarin Pinyin Transliteration

Qiū Xīng   -   Dù Fǔ
1. Yù lù diāo shāng fēng shù lín
2. Wū shān wū xiá qì xiāo sēn
3. Jiāng jiān bō làng jiān tiān yǒng
4. Sāi shàng fēng yún jiē dì yīn
5. Cóng liǎng kāi tā rì lèi
6. Gū zhōu yī xì gù yuán xīn
7. Hán chǔ chǔ cuī dāo chǐ
8. Bái dì chéng gāo jí mù zhēn





Rules:

1. T T B B T T B


2. B B T T T B B
3. B B T T B B T
4. T T B B T T B
5. T T B B B T T
6. B B T T T B B
7. B B T T B B T
8. T T B B T T B

Yutping Cantonese Transliteration

Cau1 Hing1  - Dou6 Pou2
1. Juk6 lou6 diu1 soeng1 fung1 syu6 lam4
2. Mou4 saan1 mou4 haap6 hei3 siu1 sam1
3. Gong1 gaan1 bo1 long6 gim1 tin1 jung2
4. Coi3 soeng5 fung1 wan4 zip3 dei6 jam1
5. Cung4 guk1 loeng5 hoi1 taa1 jat6 leoi6
6. Gu1 zau1 jat1 hai6 gu3 jyun4 sam1
7. Hon4 je6 cyu3 cyu3 ceoi1 dou1 cek3
8. Baak6 dai3 sing4 gou1 gap1 mou6 zam1

Changes in the Spoken Languages of China

Chinese written characters have existed since before year 1000 B.C., have been used continuously and have not changed much throughout China more than 3000-year history. The same thing can not be said about the Chinese spoken languages. Because of the vast expanse of China and with limited means of communication, Chinese have spoken many different languages. For the same written character, each region can have its own pronunciation and tone.

The Han language was quite different from the Tang Language. For this reason, Shi Jing (詩經 Kinh Thi) of the Chun Qiu (時代 Xuân Thu) period between 722 to 481 B.C. has less rhyme and rhythm than Tang poems. After the Tang period, large immigrations had great impact on Chinese spoken languages. For more than a thousand years after the Tang, Chinese living languages have changed and diversified with political and economic development.

Which Chinese Spoken Language Is Close to Tang Language.

Currently, China has one written language, but hundred of spoken dialects. To these dialects, we can add: Sino-Vietnamese, Sino-Japanese, Sino-Korean… although these dialects are no longer spoken and have very limited use. About 10 major groups of dialects that are spoken by large number of people: Mandarin, Wu, Gan, Xiang, Min, Hakka, Yue (Cantonese belongs to this group), Jin, Hui, Ping… An attempt was made to find out which current dialect is closest to Tang dialect. According to Dylan Sung, a Chinese linguist on a Chinese language forum, the sound of spoken Tang disappeared a long time ago. One can say that, although all Chinese spoken languages inherited Tang culture, none of them have the sound of Tang language. Some people believe that Cantonese and Hakka are close to Tang language. Dylan, a Hakka himself, said that today spoken Hakka language is not spoken Tang language.



Sino-Vietnamese and Tang Poetry

I do not know any of the Chinese dialects, but do enjoy translating Tang Poems into Vietnamese. An original Chinese version of a Tang Poem is searched and downloaded from the Full Tang Poetry Library (全唐诗库 Toàn Đường Thi Khố)on the Internet. The poem is then transliterated into Sino-Vietnamese, evaluated for its compliance with Tang poetry rules, investigated for the actual and poetic meanings, and finally rendered a poetic translation into current spoken Vietnamese.

After more than 200 Tang poems were transliterated into Sino-Vietnamese, I noticed that the Sino-Vietnamese version of the poem almost always comply with the requirements of the Tang Poetry rules in term of rhyme, rhythm, lock, symmetry and parallelism. When discussing similarity of Sino-Vietnamese, modern Chinese, and Tang spoken language, a friend that a Chinese intellect once mentioned to him that reciting a Tang Poem in Sino-Vietnamese sound better than in any modern Chinese dialect. I did not appreciate the true meaning of this statement until now.

What Is Sino-Vietnamese

According to Professor Pham Van Hai of Georgetown University, Sino-Vietnamese was a Chinese dialect spoken at the end of Vietnam third colonial period, that was Chinese at the end of the Tang period. Was Sino-Vietnamese identical to Tang Chinese? The similarity was not 100%. The difference is like a Vietnamese speaking Chinese and a Chinese speaking the same dialect, or like a Vietnamese speaking English and an American speaking English.

Author Le Nguyen Luu in his Selected Tang Poems Translation, Thuan Hoa Publisher, 1997: “Under the Tang colonial administration, Vietnamese began to learn Chinese systematically (Tang Court ruled that Vietnamese candidates for Tiến Sĩ would not exceed 8, and Vietnamese candidates for Minh Kinh would not exceed 10. The number was small but was big encouragement for the Vietnamese to study Chinese. For that reason, the Vietnamese spoke Tang Chinese and hence the development of Sino-Vietnamese. After regaining independence, the early Vietnamese dynasties also used Chinese characters and spoke Tang Chinese.

One participant on the Viet Study forum wrote: “The sound of Sino-Vietnamese is the sound of Tang imperial Chinese according to the first ranking linguist Nguyen Tai Can. From the end of the Tang dynasty, the Chinese language in China had been through several major changes. The independence of Vietnam at the end of the Tang dynasty (from the Vietnam Ly, Tran, then Le dynasties…) has shielded Sino-Vietnamese from those major changes in China. For that reason, reciting Tang Poetry in Sino-Vietnamese shows more rhyme and rhythm than in other modern Chinese dialects simply because Sino-Vietnamese is closest to Tang language.”

Sino-Vietnamese was the sound of Chinese in the Tang dynasty, as spoken by Vietnamese. It was not an old Vietnamese language as some have thought. This also explains the fact that, for every old Chinese character, there is an equivalent Sino-Vietnamese word although many of those words have no meaning or relation to the life of the Vietnamese people from past to present. Naturally, the sound of Sino-Vietnamese, pronounced in current moderm Vietnamese, must have deviated from the Tang sound during the thousand year period. Hovever current Vietnamese has not affected the grammar and tonality Sino-Vietnamese accept for then “taboo” rules described in the next paragraph.

The Changes In Sino-Vietnamese

After the Tang dynasty, Vietnam regained independence and soon had its own national language. Sino-Vietnamese was considered a “dead” language and had no political nor cultural reasons for changes. Sino-Vietnamese had about 50 words for which the pronunciation deviate from standard as the ancient Vietnamese also adopted the custom called “taboo“(避諱 tỵ húy).

This “taboo“ custom was made into laws by various imperial dynasties. It was forbidden to speak or write the names of kings, of people in the royal families, of the royal titles, of the royal palaces and tombs… Words falling into this category had to change their pronunciation and their physical presentation.

About 48 words in Table 1 are known to have been affected. The deviation is only in the pronunciation and not in the tone. So if the level tone verse has a rhyme using a word in Table 1, the transliteration will be out of rhyme. My poetic transliteration of Tang Poems into Sino-Vietnamese rarely run into the problem.

At present, “taboo” laws are no longer applicable. However because of habit, deviate words are still used. Deviations in pronunciation of words that affect the rules of Tang poetry can certainly be ignored.

Table 1 Sino-Vietnamese Deviation from Standard


Standard

Deviation

Standard

Deviation

Standard

Deviation

  1. câm

  2. mai

  3. hoàng

  4. nguyên

  5. lan

  6. tần

  7. lỵ

  8. thụy

  9. lĩnh

  10. chu

  11. thụ

  12. thư

  13. dung

  14. hoàn

  15. phúc

  16. ánh

kim

mơi


huỳnh

ngươn


lang, lam

tờn


lợi

thoại


lãnh

châu


thọ

thơ


dong

hườn


phước

yến, ảnh


  1. chủng

  2. đang

  3. đảm

  4. kiểu

  5. hoa

  6. thật

  7. miên

  8. chính

  9. tông

  10. tuyền

  11. hằng

  12. hạo

  13. nhậm

  14. hồng

  15. thì

  16. hài

chưởng

đương


đởm

cảo


huê

thiệt


mân

chánh


tôn

toàn


thường

hiệu


nhiệm

hường


thời

hia


  1. chân

  2. đường

  3. cảnh

  4. lân

  5. san

  6. điều

  7. nam

  8. kiền

  9. nhân

  10. thái

  11. thụy

  12. dũng



  13. kính

  14. thật

  15. nghĩa

chơn

đàng


kiểng

liên


sơn

đều


nôm

càn


nhơn

thới


thoại

dõng


cảnh


thiệt

ngãi



Reciting Tang Poetry

Many Tang poems are perfect in rhyme and rhythm when recited in Sino-Vietnamese, but deviate from the Tang Poetry rules when a modern Chinese dialect is used whether Mandarin, Hakka or Cantonese. These dialects are the only ones that can be found to transliterate Chinese characters into roman alphabets with word tones. Table 2 below shows the equivalent tones of Sino-Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka.



Table 2 Sound of Sino-Vietnamese and Chinese

Tones

Tone Type

Level 平 Ping Bằng = B

Slant 仄 Ze Trắc = T

Sino- Vietnamese

Phù Bình

Trầm Bình

Phù Thượng

Trầm Thượng

Phù Khứ

Trầm Khứ

Phù Nhập

Trầm Nhập

Không

a


Huyền

à


Ngã

ã


Hỏi



Sắc

á


Nặng



Sắc

á


Nặng


Mandarin
Pinyin


平 Ping Bình

上 Shang Thượng

去 Qu Khứ

入 Ru Nhập

Yin

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Zhong

Yang

1

2

3

4















Hakka

1

2

3

4

5

6

Cantonese

Yin Bing

Yang Bing

Yin Shang

Yang Shang

Yin Qu

Yang Qu

Shang Yin Ru

Xia Yin Ru

Yang Ru

1

4

2

5

3

6

7

8

9

Note: The above Table is based on Vietnamese Tones by Duong Quang Ham and Hakka, Cantonese and Mandarin Tone Contours by Dylan H.W. Sung

Samples of Tang poems transliterations are presented below for illustrations and discussions.

Sample 1: Five character shortcut Drunk On The East Tower

by Li Po




魯中都東樓醉起作

-李白

昨日東樓醉


還應倒接籬

阿誰扶上馬


不省下樓時

Sino-Vietnamese:

Lỗ Trung Đô Đông Lâu Túy Khởi Tác - Lý Bạch 

Tạc nhật đông lâu túy

Hoàn ưng đảo tiếp ly

A thùy phù thượng mã

Bất tỉnh hạ lâu thì.



Rules:
1. T T B B T

2. B B T T B

3. B B B T T

4. T T T B B






English Translation:

Drunk at the East Tower by Li Po

I was so drunk on the East Tower last night.

Coming home, I fell on the hedge.

Who helped me get on my horse?

Don’t remember when I descended the tower.


Vietnamese Poetic Translation:

Say Rượu Ở Lầu Đông - Lý Bạch

Lầu Ðông say quá tối hôm qua


Về nằm vất vẻo bên giậu nhà
Kềm cương lên ngựa ai người giúp
Giờ lúc xuống lầu nhớ chẳng ra.


Mandarin Pinyin Transliteration:

Zuo2 ri4 dong1 lou2 zui4 1. T T B B T

Huan2 ying4 dao3 jie1 li2 2. B B T T B

A1 shui2 fu2 shang4 ma3 3. B B B T T

Bu4 sheng3 xia4 lou2 shi2 4. T T T B B
Cantonese Transliteration by Chineselanguage.org

Zok3 jat6 dung1 lau4 zeoi3 1. T T B B T

Waan4 jing1 dou3 zip3 lei4 2. B B T T B

O1 seoi4 fu4 soeng5 maa5 3. B B B T T

Bat1 sing2 haa6 lau4 si4 4. T T T B B
Hakka Meixian Transliteration by Chineselanguage.org

Tsok7 ngit8 tung1 leu2 tsui5 1. T T B B T

Wan2 jin1 tau3 tsiap7 li2 2. B B T T B

A1 shui2 fu2 song5 ma3 3. B B B T T

Put7 sen3 ha5 leu2 shi2 4. T T T B B
Notes:


  1. Both the Sino-Vietnamese and Hakka texts comply with the Tang poetry rules.

  2. The Mandarin text uses the exception rule in line 1, out of lock in lines 2 and 3, and out of rhyme in 籬 (li2) and (shi2).

  3. The Cantonese text uses the exception rule in line 4 and is out of rhyme like the Mandarin text.



Sample 2: Seven character shortcut Mountain Travel by Du Mu



山行 -  杜牧

遠上寒山石徑斜
白雲生處有人家


停車坐愛楓林晚
霜葉紅于

月花


Sino-Vietnamese:

Sơn Hành - Đỗ Mục

Viễn thượng hàn sơn thạch kính tà

Bạch vân sanh xử hữu nhân gia

Đình xa toạ ái phong lâm vãn

Sương diệp hồng vu nhị nguyệt hoa



Rules:

1. T T B B T T B

2. B B T T T B B

3. B B T T B B T

4. T T B B T T B





English Translation:

Mountain Travel by Du Mu

High on the cold mountain, a stone path slants moderately,

Among white clouds there is a house

I stop the carriage, watching the maple wood in the leveling,

The frosted autumn leaves are redder than spring flowers.


Vietnamese Poetic Translation:

Dạo Núi - Đỗ Mục

Núi lạnh đường lên đá xéo tà

Trong mây thắp thoáng một ngôi nhà

Dừng xe ngồi ngắm rừng phong thẫm

Lá nhuộm sương thu đỏ tợ hoa.



Mandarin Pinyin Transliteration:

Yuan3 shang4 han2 shan1 shi2 jing4 xie2 1. T T B B T T B

Bai2 yun2 sheng1 chu4 you3 ren2 jia1 2. B B T T TB B

Ting2 che1 zuo4 ai4 feng1 lin2 wan3 3. B B T T B B T

Shuang1 ye4 hong2 yu1 er4 yue4 hua1 4. T T B B T T B
Cantonese Transliteration by Cantonese-Mandarin Pronunciation Dictionary

Jyun5 soeng6 hon4 saan1 sek6 ging3 ce4 1. T T B B T T B


Baak6 wan4 sang1 cyu3 jau5 jan4 gaa1 2. B B T T T B B

Ting4 ce1 co5 ngoi3 fung1 lam4 maan5 3. B B T T B B T

Soeng1 jip6 hung4 jyu1 ji6 jyut6 faa1 4. T T B B T T B
Hakka Meixian Transliteration by Chineselanguage.org:

Jan3 shong3 hon2 sen1 shak8 kang5 sia2 1. T T B B T T B


Pak8 jun2 sang1 tshu3 ju1 ngin2 ka1 2. B B T T T B B
Tin2 tsha1 tso5 oi5 fung1 lim2 van1 3. B B T T B B T

Song1 jap8 fung2 ji1 ngi5 nget8 fa1 4. T T B B T T B


Notes:

  1. All transliteration texts use the exception rule.

  2. The Sino-Vietnamese and Hakka texts have good rhyme.

  3. The Mandarin and Cantonese texts are out of rhyme in the 7 character of line 1.

  4. The last character of line 3 of Hakka text has a level tone instead of the required slant tone.

Sample 3: Seven character shortcut Written on Coming Home

by He Zhizhang




回鄉偶書

賀知章

少小離家老大回


鄉音無改鬢毛摧

兒童相見不相識


笑問客從何處來

Sino-Vietnamese:

Hồi Hương Ngẫu Thư - Hạ Tri Chương

Thiếu tiểu ly gia lão đại hồi

Hương âm vô cải mấn mao tồi

Nhi đồng tương kiến bất tương thức

Tiếu vấn khách tòng hà xứ lai



Rules:
1. T T B B T T B

2. B B T T T B B

3. B B T T B B T

4. T T B B T T B






English Translation:

Written on Coming Home By He Zhizhang

I left home young. I return old,

Speaking as then, but with hair grown white.

The children, not knowing me,

Smile and ask: "Stranger, where do you come from?"


Vietnamese Poetic Translation:

Ngẫu Nhiên Viết Khi Về Quê

Hạ Tri Chương

Lúc trẻ ra đi già trở lại


Tóc râu đã bạc giọng chưa thay
Trẻ con thấy mặt không quen biết
Cười cợt hỏi đùa ông là ai?


Mandarin Pinyin Transliteration:

Hui2 Xiang1 Ou3 Shu1 - He4 Zhi1 Zhang1

shao3 shao4 li2 jia1 lao3 da4 hui2 1. T T B B T T B

xiang1 yin1 wu2 gai3 bin4 mao2 cui1 2. B B T T T B B

er2 tong2 xiang1 jian4 bu4 xiang1 shi4 3. B B T T B B T

shao4 wen4 ke4 cong2 he2 chu4 lai2 4. T T B B T T B
Cantonese Transliteration by

Wui4 Hoeng1 Ngau5 Syu1- Ho6 Zi1 Zoeng1

Siu3 siu2 lei4 gaa1 lou5 daai6 wui4 1. T T B B T T B

Hoeng1 jam1 mou4 goi2 ban3 mou4 ceoi1 2. B B T T T B B

Ji4 tung4 soeng3 jin6 bat7 soeng1 zi3 3. B B T T B B T

Siu3 man6 haak8 cung4 ho6 cyu3 loi4 4. T T B B T T B
Hakka Meixian Transliteration by

Fui2 Hiong1 Ngiau3 Su1- Fo4 Ji1 Zong1

Seu3 xiau3 li2 ga1 lau3 tai4 fui2 1. T T B B T T B

Hiong1 yim1 vu2 goi3 bin4 mau1 cui1 2. B B T T T B B

Yi2 tung2 xiong1 gian4 but5 xiong1 sit5 3. B B T T B B T

Xiau4 mun4 hak5 qiung2 ho1 cu3 loi2 4. T T B B T T B
Notes:


  1. All texts use the exception rule.

  2. All texts have a “forced” rhyme in the last word of line 4.



Sample 4: Seven character eight line regulated verse Yellow Crane Tower by Cui Hao
The samples above show that Sino-Vietnamese is probably better than other dialects in the transliteration of Tang poetry with fewer “outs” of rhyme and lock. The overall advantages of Sino-Vietnamese do not guarantee that all Tang poems can be transliterated into this dialect with good rhyme and rhythm. The following sample of a poem very close to our heart: Yellow Crane Tower by Cui Hao will emphasize this point.


黄 鶴 樓- 崔 顥

昔 人 已 乘 黄 鶴 去

此 地 空 餘 黄 鶴 樓

黄 鶴 一 去 不 復 返

白 雲 千 載 空 悠 悠

晴 川 歷 歷 漢 陽 樹

芳 草 萋 萋 鸚 鵡 洲

日 暮 鄉 關 何 處 是

煙 波 江 上 使 人 愁


Sino-Vietnamese:

Hoàng Hạc Lâu - Thôi Hiệu

Tích nhân dĩ thừa hoàng hạc khứ

Thử địa không dư Hoàng hạc lâu.

Hoàng hạc nhất khứ bất phục phản,

Bạch vân thiên tải không du du.

Tình xuyên lịch lịch Hán Dương thụ,

Phương thảo thê thê Anh Vũ châu.

Nhật mộ hương quan hà xứ thị,

Yên ba giang thượng sử nhân sầu.



Rules:
1. B B T T B B T
2. T T B B T T B
3. T T B B B T T
4. B B T T T B B
5. B B T T B B T
6. T T B B T T B
7. T T B B B T
8. B B T T T B B




English Translation:

Yellow Crane Tower – Cui Hao

The yellow crane man has long gone away,



All that remains here is yellow crane tower.

The yellow crane once gone will not return,

White clouds drift slowly for thousands of years.

The river glitters through the Han Yang trees,

Fragrant grass grows thick on Ying Wu isle.

At dusk, I don't see my homeland,

Mist on the river bring me sorrow.

Vietnamese Poetic Translation:

Lầu Hoàng HạcThôi Hiệu

Hạc vàng đạo sĩ đã cao bay

Ðể lại lầu trơ nơi chốn này

Mây trắng trôi trôi từ vạn thuở

Bao giờ hoàng hạc trở lui đây

Hán Giang nhô nhấp trong chiều nắng

Anh Vũ thơm xanh rậm cỏ cây

Chiều xuống cố hương đâu chẳng thấy

Trên sông khói sóng gợi niềm cay.



Notes: This is a famous poem of which divine poet Li Po did not reserve praise. The following observations are based strictly on the official rules of Tang poetry and the transliteration of the current Chinese text into Sino-Vietnamese. It is my hope that we could someday find a Tang recitation (or any other dialect close to Tang) to guide our discussions.

  1. This Tang regulated verse follows the level tone rule (the level tone of character 2 in line 1) and has a slant rhyme (the slant tone of the last character in line 1).

  2. It uses the exception rule extensively, however does not completely abide to the required tone in lines 1 and 3.

  3. Character 4 in line 1 is not a slant tone, character 6 in line 1 is not a level tone.

  4. Character 4 in line 3 is not a level tone.

  5. Character 6 in line 1 does not lock with character 6 in line 8.

  6. Line 3 and line 4 must be parallel and symmetrical in meaning and vocabulary.

  7. Line 5 and line 6 must be parallel and symmetrical in meaning and vocabulary.

  8. Apparently, Sino-Vietnamese is not appropriate for the transliteration of the Chinese text to show the parallelism and symmetry in vocabulary and tones.

  9. What can we say about the parallelism and symmetry of meaning in lines 3 vs 4 and lines 5 vs 6 of this famous regulated verse?


Mandarin Pinyin Transliteration:

Huang2 He4 Lou2 - Cui1 Hao4

Xi2 ren2 yi3 cheng2 huang2 he4 qu4

Ci3 di4 kong1 yu2 huang2 he4 lou2

Huang2 he4 yi1 qu4 bu2 fu4 fan3

Bai2 yun2 qian1 zai4 kong1 you1 you1 Qing2 chuan1 li4 li4 han4 xia2 shu4

Fang1 cao3 qi1 qi1 ying1 chi4 zhou1

Ri4 mu4 xiang1 guan1 he2 chu4 shi4

Yan1 bei1 jiang1 shang4 shi3 ren2 chou2


1. B B T T B B T


2. T T B B T T B
3. T T B B B T T
4. B B T T T B B
5. B B T T B B T
6. T T B B T T B
7. T T B B B T
8. B B T T T B B


Notes: The same comments can be made on the Mandarin transliteration as on the Sino-Vietnamese text.

Rev. 2 December 20, 2017 Page of 12



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