Adding Back Vietnamese Diacritics
Note: The Vietnamese words in the original version of this essay used diacritical marks. To comply with New York Times style, the marks were removed before publication.
Unfortunately, this practice alters the meaning of the words. In the case of Hỏa Lò Prison, for example, “hỏa” means “fire,” and “lò” means “furnace”: the Burning Furnace Prison. Without the marks, “hoa” means “flowers,” and “lo” means “worry,” rendering the term “Hoa Lo” meaningless. I look forward to the day when The Times and other Western publications celebrate the richness and complexity of Vietnamese, and of all other languages, by showcasing them in their original formats.
To make the text more accessible to Vietnamese readers, I put together a sample article of Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s essay with diacritical marks included. The sampled article is typeset in Kaius, designed by Lisa Fischbach, and Job Clarendon, designed by David Jonathan Ross and Bethany Heck. I also enhanced Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s Hà Nội reading list with beautiful book covers.