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Coupling as a Text-building, Myth-evoking Strategy in Vietnamese

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Title: Coupling as a Text-building, Myth-evoking Strategy in Vietnamese
Author: Schafer, John C.
Abstract: In this article I describe “coupling” in Vietnamese—the juxtaposing of two items that are antithetical, or nearly antithetical, in meaning. I give examples of coupling in myths, poetry, speeches, essays, and four-syllable expressions. In Vietnam’s myth of origin, a dragon king of the water, Lạc Long, meets a fairy queen of the mountains, Âu cơ, and the Vietnamese race is the result of this union. Vietnamese use the four-syllable expression con rồng cháu tiên (literally, child dragon child fairy), which refers to this story, to refer to themselves. Coupling, I suggest, becomes for Vietnamese a means of constructing texts. It is also involved in myth-evoking because compound words like “trung hiếu” and “chung thủy” and four-syllable expressions like con rồng cháu tiên and trai tài gái sắc(men talented women beautiful) are efficient ways to activate cultural knowledge stored in the minds of hearers or readers.
Date: 1985

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