A few days ago I posted a translation of a passage from a spirit writing text from 1905 entitled the True Scripture of the Three Sage Mother’s Warning to the World (Tam vị thánh mẫu cảnh thế chân kinh). I just came across a Vietnamese translation of that text from 1933. This translation has the original classical Chinese text above, and the Vietnamese translation written in Nôm below. I then found another version of this translation from 1934. This text leaves out the classical Chinese original, and has the translated text in Nôm above and the same text transcribed in quốc ngữ below.

This change in language and orthography from classical Chinese, to Vietnamese in Nôm, to Vietnamese in quốc ngữ, which we see in this single text provides a nice picture of the linguistic and orthographic changes that took place in the early twentieth century.

Finally, it is also interesting to see how this text was translated. Just to give a sense, the original classical Chinese text opens as follows:

From above I have received the Thearch’s (Đế) charge and have again descended to the realm of dust. In observing the hearts of people from across the universe, rarely do I see human relations in their proper order. . .

The Vietnamese translation, meanwhile, begins with the following:

From receiving the charge in the Golden Palace, I descended to the realm of dust and transformed myself for several existences. Looking near and far across the realm, in the hearts of people I did not see the [proper] human relations upheld. . .