I want to thank blogger Quach Hien for investigating this issue of why modern Vietnamese translations of the [Đại] Việt sử lược mention “Hùng vương” when the original mentions “Đối vương.” (Cảm ơn nhiều lắm!!)

She has examined hand-written copies of the [Đại] Việt sử lược in Vietnam. In her first response (here) she talked about one hand-written copy and showed that it had “Hùng vương” instead of “Đối vương” already, and argued that Trần Quốc Vượng may have made his translation based on such a copy.

I then pointed out (here) that the copy that Quach Hien talked about did not contain certain introductory information which can be found in Trần Quốc Vượng’s translation.

Quach Hien then found another hand-written copy (which she talks about here), one which used to belong to the renowned scholar Hoàng Xuân Hãn, and it contains all of the introductory information which also exists in Trần Quốc Vượng’s translation.

So while we can’t say for certain that Trần Quốc Vượng’s translation was based on Hoàng Xuân Hãn’s hand-written copy of the [Đại] Việt sử lược, it is clear to me now (thanks to Quach Hien’s posts) that it is definitely possible that Trần Quốc Vượng may have produced a translation based on a hand-written copy of the [Đại] Việt sử lược that already had “Hùng vương” instead of “Đối vương.”

Quach Hien then points out that the bigger issue is why the scholars who made hand-written copies of this text wrote “Hùng” instead of “Đối.” She says that she is “undecided” (băn khoăn) about this issue, and asks some rhetorical questions.

Did they not notice what was in the original (since the character for “đối” looks very similar to the character for “hùng”)? If they noticed, why did they automatically change “Đối vương” to “Hùng vương” when there is earlier evidence for the use of the term “Lạc vương” (which also looks similar to these other two characters)?

I don’t really have any good answers to these questions. What I can say is that there is a lot that scholars (including all of us today) believe to be true, but which really isn’t. It is only when people go and look at something closely that they realize that there is a problem. Until someone does that and makes it well-known to others, people just continue to follow accepted (erroneous) ideas.

In any case, a few days ago I came across another interesting text which can now make us all even more confused.

The character for “hùng” (雄) literally means “strong” or “fierce.” I found an article in the classical Chinese section of the journal Nam Phong from 1924 which mentions “strong/fierce winds” in one sentence, and the “Hùng kings” in the next sentence, and it uses different versions of the same character in each sentence.

For “Hùng kings” it uses the orthodox version of the character (雄), and for “strong/fierce winds” it uses the colloquial version (俗字) of the same character (the 右 radical on the left with 佳 on the right).

Bây giờ thì tôi cũng thắc mắc lắm. . .