Assoc Prof. Ngo Duc Tho - talented researcher

Posted at: MONday - 07/04/2014 15:16 - post name: Nguyễn Thị Thùy


Unlike other contemporary social scientists, who specialise in a particular sector, Assoc. Prof. Ngo Duc Tho is said to lay the foundation for various social sciences.

Researcher on the studies of ancient writings

In the context that many ancient writing systems in Vietnam such as the ancient Cham, Thai, Nom Tay, Nom Dao, Nom Viet scripts, the ancient Vietnamese script, the ancient Han (Chinese) script are dying, Assoc. Prof. Ngo Duc Tho’s research project on the Han Nom writings in 2005 marked the beginning of the studies on the Han script.

The book, based on Assoc. Prof. Tho’s PhD thesis, was completed after ten years working hard. He had studied tens of thousands of ancient documents and books. The bilingual (Vietnamese and French) book immediately became an indispensable document for Vietnamese scholars. It is also the only book that introduces the study of Han Nom writing in Vietnam. Ngo Duc Tho is the person who marked the opening of the studies, and hopefully not the one who puts an end to it.

Documentation researcher

Documentation and archaeology are the most important in the study of history and traditional culture. However, while there are dozens of archaeologists, Assoc. Prof Tho is one of several experts on documentation studies. His research project “the basis of Han Nom writings” is the only book in Vietnam that presents the theoretical system, as well as the process for studying documentation and historical recordings. It is now used as a course book at the National University and the Graduate Academy of Social Sciences.

Another finding of Assoc. Prof Ngo Duc Tho on the origin of the “Elementary military manual”, made public in 1986, also put an end to a historical doubtful case. Accordingly, the “Elementary military manual” was a false document, which was compiled no earlier than 1869. It was not the original version compiled by Tran Quoc Tuan.

It is said that many new findings overturn previous research. The findings of research in history, literature, philosophy, religion, military studies… are only hypothesis until they are assessed by documentation. Assoc. Prof Ngo Duc Tho’s research has laid firm foundation for the documentation studies in Vietnam.

A dictionary compiler

As a researcher on the studies of ancient script, Assoc. Prof. Ngo Duc Tho has an advantage in compiling dictionaries. In coordination with other colleagues, he has dedicated his life for a Chinese-Vietnamese dictionary, which includes 12,500 single words and 16,500 compound words.

Unlike other Chinese-Vietnamese dictionaries, which mostly use Chinese linguistic data, Assoc. Prof. Tho’s dictionary is the first one that uses Vietnam’s historical and linguistic data. However, no organisation has provided fund for the publication.

Earlier, Assoc. Prof. Tho published an encyclopaedia on Vietnam’s cultural historic site in 1990, introducing 1,202 relic sites in Vietnam, and one on “examination laureates of Vietnam (1075-1919)”, which features 3,000 first doctoral candidates and doctors from the Ly Dynasty to Nguyen Dynasty.

A researcher on historical documentation and historical geography

Ngo Duc Tho is the researcher who has made important contributions to the studies of historical documentation in Vietnam. He is the translator of the Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu (Encyclopaedia of Vietnamese History) and other valuable historical books.

He also worked with Phillippe Papin to translate the Dong Khanh Dia Du Chi (The Descriptive Geography of Emperor Dong Khanh), which was published by The Gioi Publishing House. The thousand-page book, including ancient evidence and maps, has contributed to promoting research on Vietnam’s sovereignty over its sea and islands.

A translator

Ngo Duc Tho is also known as a translator with a huge number of works, covering all fields including literature, history, Buddhology, Catholocism, and scientific documents.

His most notable works are Mong Ba Vuong (Suzerainty Dream), Hau Thuy hu and Loi giao huan cua Phat Da Walpola Rahula (Teachings of Walpola Rahula).

Assoc. Prof. Ngo Duc Tho has also compiled various books, totalling about 10,000 pages. His great contributions to the research of Vietnam’s culture and history have made him “a giant” in many fields.

He has been presented the 2014 Phan Chau Trinh Culture Foundation’s Awards for his great contributions. The award is also an honour for him and recognition of his dedication.

Assoc. Prof. Ngo Duc Tho was born in 1938 in Ha Tinh. His paternal grandfather was patriotic scholar Ngo Duc Ke (1878-1929). Assoc. Prof. Tho graduated in philology from University of Hanoi in 1967and completed his PhD in Philology in 1995. He was appointed to Associate Professor in 1996. From 1982-2001, he was the Head of the Han-Nom Department of the Institute of Han-Nom Studies.

He has conducted 40 research projects and translated 30 literary works. Assoc. Prof. Ngo Duc Tho has the largest collection of historical documents.

Translated by Dic


Author: Tran Trong Duong - Tia sang
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