I'm wondering if there's a relatively systematic way to convert from pinyin to Sino Vietnamese words (Hán Việt) or vice versa or not.
For example:
国(guó) --> quốc
大(dà) --> đại
小(xiǎo) --> tiểu
Is there a relatively systematic way to converter from pinyin to Sino Vietnamese words (Hán Việt)?

  • 1
    Why do you want to convert from Pinyin? Characters are readily available as a source of vocabulary, Chinese has been written in characters far longer than it has been in pinyin, and Vietnamese borrowed from Chinese before Mandarin in a recognisable form even existed. Pinyin is not a capable representation of Chinese words used in all daily and professional aspects of life in general - too many completely unrelated morphemes are spelt the same. – dROOOze Mar 22 '20 at 15:07
  • @dROOOze because I know Sino Vietnamese so it would be nice to convert from Sino Vietnamese to pinyin so I don't have to learn much words. – anhnha Mar 22 '20 at 16:08
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    Your question says you also want to convert from Pinyin to Sino Vietnamese. The information content in the orthographies is not equal - pinyin has much less morphemic information than quoc ngu does. – dROOOze Mar 22 '20 at 16:11
  • @dROOOze I was thinking that they were equal but I think I can just need to convert from Sino Vietnamese to pinyin mostly. – anhnha Mar 22 '20 at 16:15
  • Seems like a task best performed with a nice curated dataset, not rules or statistics. – Adam Bittlingmayer Mar 26 '20 at 9:57

The answer is yes, there are ways to convert in both directions, as long as you don't mind the intermediary of chữ Hán (hànzì).

On Mac, for example, you can add the VNI input source for Vietnamese in Keyboard Settings. Type one syllable such as 'chữ', then highlight it and select 'convert to Hán-Nôm' in the Input Sources dropdown menu. You will be given a list of possible characters sorted by frequency, 字 at the top. (I haven't used it enough to know if the frequency lists are sensitive to previous input, but I suspect not.)

Once you have the Chinese character, it is very simple to find hànzì to Pinyin converters online. Personally, I prefer Wiktionary to look things up on a character-by-character basis, but I don't deal with large amounts of text so maybe you would prefer a bulk conversion tool.

To convert without the chữ Hán mediation is basically useless, as others have said. There is no one-to-one mapping between Sino-Vietnamese pronunciations and (reconstructed) Middle Chinese pronunciations, let alone between SV and modern Mandarin pronunciations.

There are other Hán-Nôm resources around online. Let me know if you need help finding them/if this answer is not developed enough for your needs.

  • Actually I want to convert from Sino Vietnamese to pinyin so I can learn words faster. I already know SV so if there's a rule then I can guess how to read them in Mandrin. However, your answer is different and using computer so it's not really what I'm looking for. – anhnha Mar 26 '20 at 12:16
  • I see, so you don't want a comprehensive system, but just guidelines to guess Mandarin prounciations from SV. Once again, I emphasize how much the prounciations have changed in Mandarin, and so guessing probably won't help much, although of course there will be some correlations (Chinese d- / SV đ- is a good bet, as is Chinese y- / SV nh-). Your best bet might be learning more about Middle Chinese pronunciations, as these are the link between the two sets of pronunciations. For that I recommend e.g. Michel Ferlus' 1992 paper: halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00923038v2 – legatrix Mar 26 '20 at 14:06
  • that paper looks interesting but it seems only mentioning about consonants not vowels. Also it's written in French I think so I have to use google translate. – anhnha Mar 27 '20 at 6:06
  • You're right, the paper is about onsets only, but it's still a good place to start. I have translated (most of) this paper into English and can send you a copy if you want. – legatrix Mar 28 '20 at 10:53
  • could you send me the paper? – anhnha Mar 28 '20 at 21:43

Pinyin Mandarin is a phonetically evolved form of Chinese. If you want to convert Chinese into Vietnamese, you have to choose a more conservative dialect like Cantonese. It will work better.

  • Do you know how to convert with Cantonese? – anhnha Mar 23 '20 at 8:08
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    In all cases, the conversion of Cantonese into Vietnamese will not be a perfect match, because both Cantonese and Sino-Vietnamese are evolved. But it will nevertheless approximately work. You have to look a book on Proto-Chinese (Baxter for example). – Arnaud Fournet Mar 23 '20 at 10:09

Modern Mandarin and Hán Việt both derive from Middle Chinese, in the same way that French and Romanian both derive from Latin, in both cases in the course of centuries. There is no magic formula for converting one to the other.

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