The online journal, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, has recently published two articles which deal with the period when “Vietnam” was under “Chinese” rule.

Michael Churchman’s “Before ‘Chinese’ and ‘Vietnamese’ in the Red River Plain: The Han-Tang Period,” looks at the textual evidence for this period and argues none of the people mentioned for this period match our current understanding of the terms “Vietnamese” and “Chinese.” His argument is thus that there were no “Chinese” and “Vietnamese” yet. This is an argument which Charles Holcombe has also made. Churchman’s article, however, looks at this issue in more detail.

Then there is an article on linguistics by John Phan, “Re-Imagining ‘Annam’: A New Analysis of Sino-Viet-Muong Linguistic Contact.” Phan argues that the Vietnamese language emerged when speakers of a local Chinese dialect, what he calls “Annamese Middle Chinese,” switched to speaking a variant of Proto-Vietnamese around the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Prior to this point, he argues, there were a variety of languages/dialects which were spoken in the Red River Plain, and many of them had adopted words from Chinese. However, the switch by some Chinese speakers to using one variant of Proto-Vietnamese led to massive changes in that dialect/language. (I’m not a linguist, but I think I have his argument right).

These studies are helpful in deconstructing the myth of the antiquity of the Vietnamese nation.

The articles can be viewed here:

http://csds.anu.edu.au/volume_4_2010/contents.php