Posted on 05/12/2019 -- Since October, authorities in Da Nang, a coastal city in central Vietnam, have been polling public opinion on 137 streets that will be renamed by the end of the year. The country's intellectuals are debating the project of naming two streets after the names of two Jesuit missionaries of the 17th century, which allowed the systematization of the official language of Vietnam. The two streets, located in the district of Hai Chau in Da Nang, are to be renamed after Fathers Francisco de Pina (1585-1625) and Alexander of Rhodes (1591-1660).

There is a heated debate in central Vietnam over the idea of ​​renaming the streets of Da Nang as two foreign missionaries who contributed to the development of the Romanized Vietnamese script, which eventually became part of the country. Father Francisco de Pina, a Portuguese pioneer of learning and research on the Vietnamese language, arrived in southern Vietnam in 1617, where he used the local language to teach catechism to the region's inhabitants. before teaching the language to other Jesuits. He also wrote a catechism book in ngu quoc(phonetic and romanized transcription of the Vietnamese language) as well as a grammar book. He died drowned off Hoi An in 1625. Father Alexandre de Rhodes, who arrived in Vietnam in 1625, studied the Vietnamese language with Pina's father and collected the works of other writers on the Quoc Ngu. He published three books in Rome in 1651: a Vietnamese-Portuguese-Latin dictionary, a Vietnamese grammar book and a catechism book. His work enabled the setting up of Vietnamese phonetized and romanized, which will be used throughout the country. He is expelled from Vietnam in 1645.

The Da Nang authorities, for their part, emphasized that the two missionaries played a significant role in shaping Vietnamese writing. "The creation of Vietnamese Romanized writing has made it possible to defend and support Vietnamese culture in an incredible way. Their names have been suggested by historians and researchers, " said the cultural and sports department of the city. At the end of October, twelve historians, professors and researchers signed a petition calling on Da Nang authorities not to rename schools and streets according to the two Jesuits. They claim that the father of Rhodes did not create the quoc nguand accuse him of having used it for evangelization, condemning Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and preparing a plan to invade Vietnam by French troops. Professor Hoang Dung from the Ho Chi Minh City Pedagogical University explains that most scholars recognize that Father Rhodes did not create the quoc ngu himself, but that he has resumed the work. others before him, including Pina's father. However, they appreciate the important contributions of the French missionary to the development of the national language, especially with the publication of his trilingual dictionary.

Many intellectuals supported the project to use the names of missionaries to rename Da Nang streets. They believe that the twelve signatories of the petition misunderstood the meaning of the word "soldiers", indicated in the book Divers voyages et missions,published in 1653 by the father of Rhodes. The French missionary asked King Louis XIV to send him "soldiers" (missionaries) for the mission in the East. Intellectuals in favor of the project also add that the accusations of the petitioners, who claim that Rhodes' father was involved in the French invasion of Vietnam, are baseless. The missionary lived in Vietnam from 1625 to 1645, but French troops arrived in the country in 1858. They also point out that foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Catholics have made immense contributions to open up Vietnam to the world.quoc ngu. On November 30, Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City organized a symposium to mark the 100th anniversary of the official teaching of Quoc Ngu in schools. The speakers at the symposium praised the work of Vietnamese missionaries and Catholics who helped develop the Romanized system. The authorities of Da Nang plan to organize, this month, a new conference on the development of the quoc ngu. In Ho Chi Minh City, three Vietnamese streets have already been named after Father Alexander of Rhodes, one of which is near Notre Dame Cathedral.

(Églises d'Asie - le 05/12/2019, With Ucanews, Ho Chi Minh City)