Monday, August 06, 2007


(Note from Vanessa: Phan Tri Minh wrote this post about using names but left it in Drafts. Please DO NOT LEAVE UNPOSTED MESSAGES IN DRAFTS. Forms and styles of personal address vary from language to language and from culture to culture. There is not really a "right" or "wrong" way so much as ways we are used to and ones we are not used to. Anything you are not used to will be confusing. When you live or work in another culture, you will almost always be expected to follow that language or country's customs of personal address)

In Viet Nam the full name of person:


The first name: YEN OR HONG
The middle name Thi Minh

The family name: NGUYEN

People in Viet nam usually call each other Yen or Hong (the first name) – this way, we can distinguish between them.

But in America The full name of person:


The first name: William

The middle name: Jefferson
The family name: Robinson

Peope in America usually call each other Robinson (The family name)- this way, we can not distinguish between Robinsons (William or another)

(Minh Tri, your comment above is not correct. At the very least, you are oversimplifying, which is also incorrect. We call people we know by their FIRST names which come first. People we do not know well, we address by the last name PLUS a title or polite form of address such as Dr Jones, Professor Billings, Miss Jefferson, etc. I assure you I have NEVER in my life called someone by just his or her last name, although I understand this is sometimes the practice in some places.

People in my generation consider it VERY rude when someone we do not know addresses us by our first name without our permission. The younger generation tends to be more informal about using first names.

What is, however, VERY confusing to me is putting the last or family name first and the first or personal name last. It is all the more confusing when no one explains it but just assumes that I should understand it even though it is not how I am used to using personal names.)

What Do you think about there call ways

Thank you.

Phan Minh Tri

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