The Hundred FamiliesIt has been said that there are only ninety-nine family names in Vietnam. Why ninety-nine is a question. The legend is that the first occupants of the territory of Vietnam were divided into 100 families. This figure is, of course, too low for today, but actually there are perhaps no more than 300 names for a population of 38,000,000. This is not so surprising. After all, in China, there are only 450 family names. Of the 300 Vietnamese family names, some 200 originated in the valley and delta of the Red River, cradle of early Vietnamese culture and civilization, and today one of the world's most densely populated areas.
The Intercalary NameThe intercalary name or particle is a form that does not exist in the composition of Western names; it is perhaps the most confusing element of the Vietnamese name. It was necessary because through the too frequent use of the same family name it became increasingly difficult to identify an individual. In this there is some similarity with the middle name or initial used in the United States.
The Personal NameThe third component of the complete name is the personal name, corresponding somewhat to our Christian, or given, name. Peasant families and the illiterate do not attach much importance to the choice of given names. On the other hand, in educated families, they are always the object of severe and judicious selection and are chosen to form an ideological ensemble with the family and intercalary names, and sometimes with the personal names of other members of the family.
Poetic Names for GirlsMany Vietnamese women are very fond of a compound personal name or couplet, although it is rarely found in the case of men. The idea is purely one of embellishment, in an effort to create a pleasant ideological combination.
|Xuan Hoa||Spring Flower|
|Thanh Thuy||Clear Water|
|Kim Son||Golden Mountain|
|Dieu Hoi||Fragrant Odor|
|Tuyet Mai||Snow-White Apricot Blossom|
|Dao Giao Thuy||Giao of the Propitious Augury|
|Dao Giao Chau||Giao the Pearl|
|Dao Giao Tien||Giao the Fairy|