In the early 1930s, the well-known man of letters Phan Khôi wrote a series of essays about the Vietnamese language in which he advanced a number of proposals for reform. I focus on those arguments that are specifically concerned with the practices for referring to persons and, in particular, the practices for referring to participants in communication (i.e., speaker-addressee, writer-reader). I suggest that these arguments articulate a vision for Vietnamese public life that was imagined as breaking from the legacy of a Confucian past and establishing the conditions for the free flow of discourse among self-abstracted individuals.

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