Saturday, May 1, 2010
How to write Vietnamese names in English for Western media newspaper stories.....first reference and then second reference? Is Ho Chi Minh called Ho on second ref or Minh? is Nguyen Tu Thuy called Nguyen on second ref or Thuy?
I am getting lots of responses on this worldwide:
The NYTimes Manual of Style & Usage has a plethora of entries on foreign names for individual countries, as well as the main entry. The entry on Vietnamese names notes that they "usually consist of of the family name followed by two given names. But Western practice, accepted by the Vietnamese, treats the last part of the name in later references as if it were a surname."
''I am surprised by that. Score one for cultural imperialism." says one editor i know...in USA
OK, found it in Bloomberg stylebook. AP is right, but "Ho" as second reference is ALSO correct; hence confusion. Here's the entire entry:
Vietnamese usually have three names. The first is a family name, and the second and third are given names.
Use third name on second reference. (Example: Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach is "Thach" on second reference.)
Exception: Many Vietnamese have adopted pseudonyms, especially revolutionary noms de guerre such as Ho Chi Minh, Truong Chinh, Le Duc Tho and Pham Van Dong. Ho Chi Minh is "Ho" on second reference. Pseudonyms such as Truong Chinh, which means "Long March," can't be split. Use "Truong Chinh" on second reference. Le Duc Tho, likewise, is correctly referred to as "Le Duc Tho" on second reference. Before submitting a story with Vietnamese names, check the origin of each name."
ONE: "Second reference is always surname. In Vietnamese tradition, surname is first and first name is placed last. (For example, for the person named Nguyen Tan Lac, Nguyen is the surname, Lac is the first name. On second reference, it would be Nguyen). That is style at L. A. Times
However, in the US and other Western countries, Vietnamese tend to follow the Western protocol (first name first, last...
name last). So Nguyen Lac Tan in fact writes his name as Lac Tan Nguyen in the US. But for newspaper stories we call him Nguyen for second and third refs.
You should always verify if you can someone's first and last name. Nguyen is usually a last name, but some people have it as their first name.
TWO SAYS: Gary Kirchherr asks me: What exactly is AP copydesk telling you?
I TOLD GARY: Hi Gary.......well, the AP is telling me that a name like Nguyen Thui Thi Tu would be written this way in first ref....but for second ref, she would be called "Tu" all the way through.......that's like calling Sally Quinn as "Sally" for second ref.....no? But Ap says so.
......but LAT reporter tells me it would be "Nguyen" on second ref because her surname is Nguyen, and in English we always give first name last name for first ref and then surname for seond ref......even for Japanese names and China names, we follow Western style for second ref......Hu Jintao is Hu on second ref, not Jintao or Tao....and Ma Ying-Jeou is MA in second ref....so why do we treat Vietnamese people differently? i smell a good story here and intend to blog on it today, to start things off. i might be wrong, i often am. ....sonething tells me something fishy here.....are the commies in Vietnam making AP do this? .....what does AP copy desk ion NYC say....?
THREE: "danny, Your Los Angeles Times reporter is wrong! I live in Vietnam and read the
Vietnamese media every day. I work with Vietnamese reporters every day. You
can stop doing research now..."
FOUR: I never
heard this before....for exmapl,e HO CHI MINH, we call him Ho is second ref, not Minh....but AP says they call him Minh on sec ref....weird.....that is like calling Ben Bradlee as BEN in second ref. i feel this disrespectful to Vietnamese peole in Westenr press, no?
My-Thuan Tran, reporter
''Second reference is always surname. In Vietnamese tradition, surname
is first and first name is placed last. (For example, Nguyen Tan Lac.
Nguyen is the surname, Lac is the first name. On second reference, it
would be Mr. Nguyen).
However, in the US and other Western countries, Vietnamese tend to
follow the Western protocol (first name first, last name last). So Mr
Nguyen writes his name as Lac Tan Nguyen in the US.
You should always verify if you can someone's first and last name.
Nguyen is usually a last name, but some people have it as their first
FIVE: ''i asked NYtimes copy desk Merrill PErlman but no answer yet..... i noticed however that Seth Mydans NYTimes stories from Vietnam follow this weird rule of calling the person THuy or Tu or Thi for second ref rather than family surname of Nguyen or Tran.....weird? I know of no other country that we treat that way......China and Japanese now follow English style for second ref''
SIXK "Reuters also follows weird AP rule.....HO CHI MINH is MINH in second ref....who knew? let's ask testycopyeditors.org,.?''
SEVENth COMMENT: "OK, when I get home, let me check the Bloomberg and NYT stylebooks and see what *they* say. I really hope AP isn't giving out bad information. I do know I have challenged their stylebook people on calling Aung San Suu Kyi "Suu Kyi" on second reference; Burmese names don't work that way (no surnames). AP's response was, in not so many words, "Other people do it that way too." Good answer!''
8. "i think there is confusion out there in copydesk land so your blog will be a kind of outreach radar to ask readers to cmment with examples and come up with the truth, wherever she does LIE...."
9. "If Reuters really is calling Ho Chi Minh "Minh" on second reference, that's just inexcusable ignorance. I can't believe that deliberately butchering Asian names is part of Reuters' style."
10. .....for Vietnamese names in English language wire stories and stateside stories about Vietnamese people, how to write name in second ref? Nguyen Thi Thi Tu is his her name first ref, his her surname being NGUYEN of course, like BLOOM or McIntyre.....but on second ref, AP calls this person TU, not NGUYEN. Is that disrespectful, like calling you John in second ref, or this just AP and Reuters style? And what about you?
Posted by DANIELBLOOM at 7:21 PM