Traditional Vietnamese personal names generally consist of three parts, used in Eastern name order.
But not every name is conformant. For example:
The "family name first" written order follows the system of "Chinese names" and common in the "Sinosphere". However, it is different from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese names in the usage of a "middle name," which is less common in China and Korea and uncommon in Japan. Persons can be referred to by the whole name, the given name, or a hierarchic pronoun, which usually connotes a degree of family relationship or kinship – but referring via given name is most common, as well as if degree of family relationship or kinship is unknown. In more informal contexts or in the Western world, given name can be written first then family name e.g. Châu Bùi or Thanh Trần.
The Vietnamese language is tonal and so are Vietnamese names. Names with the same spelling but different tones represent different meanings, which can confuse people when the diacritics are dropped, as is commonly done outside Vietnam (e.g. Đoàn ( [ɗʷà:n]) vs Doãn ( [zʷǎ:ˀn]), both become Doan when diacritics are omitted). Additionally, some Vietnamese names can only be differentiated via context or with their corresponding chữ Hán, such as 夏 (Hạ) or 賀 (Hạ). Anyone applying for Vietnamese nationality must also adopt a Vietnamese name. Vietnamese script is fully transliterated (romanized), because Hán-Nôm was replaced by Chữ Quốc ngữ , which was made compulsory during the French colonial era.
Due to historical contact with Chinese dynasties, Vietnamese names originated from Middle Chinese.[ citation needed ] The family name is positioned first and is passed on by the father to his children in a traditionally patrilineal order, but exceptions are possible. It is estimated that there are around 100 family names in common use, but some are far more common than others. The name Nguyễn was estimated to be the most common (40%) in 2005. The reason the top three names are so common is that people tended to take the family names of emperors, to show loyalty to particular dynasties in history. Over many generations, those family names became permanent.
The following are the most common family names among Vietnamese, with their Chữ Quốc Ngữ spelling, and their corresponding Hán-Nôm (Han-Nom Characters), which are now obsolete.The figures are from 100 họ phổ biến ở Việt Nam (100 most popular Vietnamese surnames/family names) from Nhà xuất bản Khoa học Xã hội (Social Science Publishing House).
|Rank||Surname/Family name||Chữ Hán-Nôm||Percentage|
|5||Hoàng / Huỳnh||黃||5.1%|
|6||Vũ / Võ||武||4.9%|
|Rank||Surname/Family name||Chữ Hán-Nôm||Percentage|
In 2005, these 14 names had accounted for around 90% of the Viet population.
The following list includes less-common surnames in alphabetical order which make up the other 10% (2005), now 16.3% (2022):
In Vietnamese culture, women tend to keep their family names once they marry, whilst the progeny tend to have the father's family name, although names can often be combined from a father's and mother's family name, e.g. Nguyễn Lê, Phạm Vũ, Kim Lý etc. In formal contexts, people are referred to by their full name. In more casual contexts, people are always on a "first-name basis", which involves their given names, accompanied by proper kinship terms.
In a few localities of Vietnam, for examples, Sơn Đồng commune (Hoài Đức district), Tân Lập commune (Đan Phượng district), Cấn Hữu, Tân Hoà, Cộng Hoà, commune (Quốc Oai district) of Hanoi, and Liên Khê commune, Khoái Châu district, Hưng Yên province, there is a custom of daughters taking the fathers' middle names, not family names, as their surnames; therefore arise such female surnames such as Đắc, Đình, Sỹ, Tri, Ngọc, Văn, Tiếp, Doãn, Quế, Danh, Hữu, Khắc, etc. Sons, in contrast, bear their fathers' family names as surnames.There exist several explanations for this custom:
Most Vietnamese have one middle name, but it is quite common to have two or more or to have no middle name at all. Middle names can be standalone (e.g. Văn or Thị), but is often combined with the given name for a more meaningful overall name, where the middle name is part of the overall given name.
In the past, the middle name was selected by parents from a fairly narrow range of options. Almost all women had Thị (氏) as their middle name, and many men had Văn (文). More recently, a broader range of names has been used, and people named Thị usually omit their middle name because they do not like to call it with their name.
Thị is a most common female middle name, and most common amongst pre-1975 generation but less common amongst younger generations. Thị (氏) is an archaic Sino-Vietnamese suffix meaning "clan; family; lineage; hereditary house" and attached to a woman's original family name, but now is used to simply indicate the female sex. For example, "Trần Thị Mai Loan" is a person who has the given name "Mai Loan" and comes from the "Trần" family; altogether, the name means "Mai Loan, a female person of the Trần family". Some traditional male middle names may include Văn (文), Hữu (友), Đức (德), Thành (誠), Công (公), Minh (明), and Quang (光).
The middle name can have several uses, with the fourth being most common nowadays:
The first three are no longer in use, and seen as too rigid and strictly conforming to family naming systems. Most middle names utilise the fourth, having a name to simply imply some positive characteristics.
In most cases, the middle name is formally part of the given name. For example, the name "Đinh Quang Dũng" is separated into the surname "Đinh" and the given name "Quang Dũng". In a normal name list, those two parts of the full name are put in two different columns. However, in daily conversation, the last word in a given name with a title before it is used to call or address a person: "Ông Dũng", "Anh Dũng", etc., with "Ông" and "Anh" being words to address the person and depend on age, social position, etc.
The given name is the primary form of address for Vietnamese. It is chosen by parents and usually has a literal meaning in the Vietnamese language. Names often represent beauty, such as bird or flower names, or attributes and characteristics that the parents want in their child, such as modesty (Khiêm, 謙).
Typically, Vietnamese will be addressed with their given name, even in formal situations, although an honorific equivalent to "Mr.", "Mrs.", etc. will be added when necessary. That contrasts with the situation in many other cultures in which the family name is used in formal situations, but it is a practice similar to usage in Icelandic usage and, to some degree, Polish. It is similar to the Latin-American and southern European custom of referring to women as "Doña/Dona" and men as "Don/Dom", along with their first name.
Addressing someone by the family name is rare. In the past, women were usually called by their (maiden) family name, with thị (氏) as a suffix, similar to China and Korea. In recent years, doctors are more likely than any other social group to be addressed by their family name, but that form of reference is more common in the north than in the south. Some extremely famous people are sometimes referred to by their family names, such as Hồ Chí Minh (Bác Hồ—"Uncle Hồ") (however, his real surname is Nguyễn), Trịnh Công Sơn (nhạc Trịnh—"Trịnh music"), and Hồ Xuân Hương (nữ sĩ họ Hồ—"the poetess with the family name Hồ"). Traditionally, people in Vietnam, particularly North Vietnam, addressed parents using the first child's name: Mr and Mrs Anh or Master Minh.
When being addressed within the family, children are sometimes referred to by their birth number, starting with one in the north but two in the south. That practice is less common recently, especially in the north.
Double names are also common. For example, Phan Thị Kim Phúc has the given name Kim Phúc.
Vietnamese Catholics are given a saint's name at baptism (Vietnamese : tên thánh (holy name) or tên rửa tội (baptism name). Boys are given male saints' names, while girls are given female saints' names. This name appears first, before the family name, in formal religious contexts. Out of respect, clergy are usually referred to by saints' name. The saint's name also functions as a posthumous name, used instead of an individual's given name in prayers after their death. The most common saints' names are taken from the New Testament, such as Phêrô (Peter, or Pierre in French), Phaolô (Paul), Gioan (John), Maria (Mary), and Anna or they may remain as they are without Vietnamisation.
Saints' names are respelled phonetically according to the Vietnamese alphabet. Some more well-known saints' names are derived further into names that sound more Vietnamese or easier to pronounce for Vietnamese speakers.
|Saint||Name in Romance Language||Vietnamese Name|
|Alexander||Alexandre (Portuguese)||A Lịch Sơn, Alexanđê|
|Anthony||Antônio (Portuguese)||Antôn, An Tôn, Antôniô|
|Benedict||Benedictus (Latin)||Biển Đức, Bênêđictô|
|Clement||Clemente (Portuguese)||Clêmêntê, Lê Minh|
|Constantine||Constantino (Portuguese)||Constantinô, Công Tăng|
|Dominic||Domingos (Portuguese)||Đa Minh, Đaminh|
|Helena||Helena (Portuguese)||Hà Liên|
|Ignatius||Inácio (Portuguese)||Inhaxiô, Y Nhã|
|John the Baptist||Juan Bautista (Spanish)||Gioan Baotixita|
|Martin||Martinho (Portuguese), Martín (Spanish)||Martinô, Máctinô, Mạc Tính, Mạc Ty Nho|
|Paul||Paulus (Latin), Paulo (Portuguese)||Phaolô, Bảo Lộc|
|Thaddaeus||Tadeu (Portuguese)||Tađêô, Thanh Diêu|
|Urban||Urbano (Portuguese)||Urbanô, Ước Bang|
Some names may appear the same if simplified into a basic ASCII script, as for example on websites, but are different names:
Typically, as in the above examples, it is middle or the last personal given name which varies, as almost any Hán-Nôm character may be used. The number of family names is limited.
Further, some historical names may be written using different chữ Hán (Chinese characters), but are still written the same in the modern Vietnamese alphabet.
According to the English-language Chicago Manual of Style , Vietnamese names in are indexed according to the "given name, then surname + middle name", with a cross-reference placed in regards to the family name. Ngô Đình Diệm would be listed as "Diệm, Ngô Đình" and Võ Nguyên Giáp would be listed as "Giáp, Võ Nguyên".In Vietnamese, Vietnamese names are also typically sorted using the same order.
But at the present, Vietnamese names are commonly[ when? ] indexed according "middle-namegiven-name then SURNAME" in Western name order, or "SURNAME then middle-name given-name" in Eastern name order, to determine exactly the part of surname, especially in media (TV, website, SNS) at events of sports games. This method is similar to Chinese names or Korean names in events. For example:[ citation needed ]
|Name in Vietnamese (Eastern name order)||Name in English|
|Fullname||Family name||Middle name + Given name||Abbreviated||Eastern name order||Western name order|
|Phạm Tuân||Phạm||Tuân (no middle name)||P. Tuân||PHAM Tuan||PHAM T.||Tuan PHAM||T. PHAM|
|Hoàng Xuân Vinh||Hoàng||Xuân Vinh (no middle name)||H. Xuân Vinh||HOANG Xuan Vinh||HOANG X. V.||Xuan Vinh HOANG||X. V. HOANG|
|Nguyễn Văn Toàn||Nguyễn||Văn Toàn||N. Văn Toàn||NGUYEN Van Toan||NGUYEN V. T.||Van Toan NGUYEN||V. T. NGUYEN|
|Lê Quang Liêm||Lê||Quang Liêm (no middle name)||L. Quang Liêm||LE Quang Liem||LE Q. L.||Quang Liem LE||Q. L. LE|
|Nguyễn Ngọc Trường Sơn||Nguyễn||Ngọc Trường Sơn||N. Ngọc Trường Sơn|
N. N. Trường Sơn
|NGUYEN Ngoc Truong Son||NGUYEN N. T. S.||Ngoc Truong Son NGUYEN||N. T. S. NGUYEN|
|Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên||Nguyễn||Thị Ánh Viên||N. Thị Ánh Viên|
N. T. Ánh Viên
|NGUYEN Thi Anh Vien||NGUYEN T. A. V.||Thi Anh Vien NGUYEN||T. A. V. NGUYEN|
|Nguyễn Thị Liễu||Nguyễn||Thị Liễu||N. Thị Liễu|
N. T. Liễu
|NGUYEN Thi Lieu||NGUYEN T. L.||Thi Lieu NGUYEN||T. L. NGUYEN|
|Name in Vietnamese (with Eastern name order)||Name in English||Notes|
|Fullname||Family name||Middle name + Given name||Abbreviate||Eastern name order||Western name order|
|Tôn Thất Thuyết||Tôn Thất||Thuyết (no middle name)||T. T. Thuyết||TON THAT Thuyet||TON THAT T.||Thuyet TON THAT||T. TON THAT|
|Trần Lê Quốc Toàn||Trần Lê||Quốc Toàn||T. L. Quốc Toàn||TRAN LE Quoc Toan||TRAN LE Q. T.||Quoc Toan TRAN LE||Q. T. TRAN LE|
|Bùi Hoàng Việt Anh||Bùi Hoàng||Việt Anh (no middle name)||B. H. Việt Anh||BUI HOANG Viet Anh||BUI HOANG V. A.||Viet Anh BUI HOANG||V. A. BUI HOANG|
|Tôn Nữ Thị Ninh||Tôn Nữ||Thị Ninh||T. N. Thị Ninh|
T. N. T. Ninh
|TON NU Thi Ninh||TON NU T. N.||Thi Ninh TON NU||T. N. TON NU|
Due to the high frequency of the same surnames in Vietnamese names, it has also become more popular to refer by middle and given name, which together officially is the given name e.g. Lê Mạnh Cường can be referred to as Mạnh Cường as given name or as Cường.
|Surname||Middle Name||Given Name|
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