Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum
The Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum is a trilingual Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin dictionary written by the French Jesuit lexicographer Alexandre de Rhodes after 12 years in Vietnam, and published by the Propaganda Fide in Rome in 1651 upon Rhodes' visit to Europe.
Before Rhodes's work, traditional Vietnamese dictionaries used to show the correspondences between Chinese characters and Vietnamese Chữ Nôm script. From the 17th century, Western missionaries started to devise a romanization system to represent the Vietnamese language in order to facilitate the propagation of the Christian faith, which resulted in the Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum of Alexander de Rhodes. The dictionary has 8,000 Vietnamese entries with translations in Portuguese and Latin.
Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanum et Latinum was itself inspired by two earlier lost works: a Vietnamese–Portuguese dictionary by Gasparal de Amoral and a Portuguese–Vietnamese dictionary by Antoine Barbosa. The dictionary incorporates a summary on Vietnamese grammar (Brevis Declaratio) and codification of some contemporary pronunciations.
The dictionary established Quốc ngữ, the Vietnamese alphabet, which was perfected by later missionaries and is still in general use today. Mgr Pigneau de Béhaine contributed to these improvements with his 1783 Annamite–Latin dictionary, the manuscript of which was remitted to Mgr Jean-Louis Taberd who published in 1838 his Vietnamese–Latin / Latin–Vietnamese dictionary.
In reality, however, Christian publications in Vietnam continued to use either Latin or the traditional Vietnamese Chữ Nôm rather than the simpler alphabetic Quốc ngữ for the next 200 years, and Quốc ngữ would only gain predominance with the French invasion of 1861 and the establishment of French Indochina.
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