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VietNamNews

Why restrict the number of letters when it comes to naming a child

Update: May, 29/2015 - 08:41
Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers whether it was necessary to regulate the length of names. According to a draft amendment to the Civil Code, the full name of a Vietnamese citizen should not have more than 25 letters, or any numbers or symbols. The reasoning is that many names do not suit the country's culture and are sometimes too long, and inconvenient in paperwork.

Jen Davies, Devonshire, UK

I'm visiting Ha Noi from the UK. In our country it's both a funny stereotype, but also true, that "posh" or upper-class people have many names, usually of normal length, but they add up. The new royal baby is named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana – I don't know if that's 25 letters long but it seems close.

Forgive me for stereotyping but the names of Vietnamese people I am meeting here seem to be shorter in the first place, so if parents give their child a 25 letter string of names, the message of this law might be: Don't turn your child's name into your own status symbol.

Eckhardt Wickmann, Dortmund, Germany

In Germany we have fairly strict laws for new baby names. They say some of it is to protect the child in the future from the consequences of a bizarre name, but it also has a lot to do with traditionalism. This law hasn't seemed to hurt Germany at all, but because it's a law, people try to, you know, test the limits of it all the time. Maybe after the law passes in Viet Nam you will see babies with exactly 25 letters in their names. Like Germany, maybe it won't be a big event besides among the publicity-seekers, and everyone will keep going along with normal life.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

William Shakespeare would still be a great author with a different name and his roses would still smell as sweet. I have a great writing name "A Burden." In one of my classes I had one boy named Viet and another named Nam. I wanted them to sit together, just for fun.

Unless you are a silly movie star or celebrity, you should not name your child North or Apple. Keep it simple, keep it with the usual spelling and think of their future. Every time I sign my initial and surname I am conscious of the definition.

There was a female teen in Canada who was cyber-bullied, not because of her name but because she exposed herself on her web camera. Later on, she committed suicide. Her name was quite nice, beautiful even, except that is was spelled backwards. Her first name was Rehtaeh.

I have learned to like my name and I think it has provided me confidence and comfort when arguing a point or presenting an opinion. I think it's time I ate an apple, travelled north and smelled the roses - thanks, Billy.

Pham Quang Vinh, Viet Nam

There is now a fuss in social media about a draft amendment to the Civil Code to restrict the full name of a Vietnamese citizen under 25 letters.

I don't think the issue deserves such a fuss.

The reason is simple. Vietnamese is a syllable language. A full name in Vietnamese is understood by all Vietnamese to normally contain three parts: family name, middle name and addressed name (some people without a middle name).

Family name usually comes in one syllable (in almost all cases, especially for the Kinh majority, it can be Ly, Tran, Le, Nguyen and so on but always comes in the first place on the full name and comes in one syllable.

Vietnamese address other compatriots by their first name, not by their family name like other peoples in the world and always call it in Vietnamese way, which means they will pronounce the last syllable of the longer full name for addressing that person.

For example, if a person is named Nguyen Manchester United, everybody will know he comes from the Nguyen family and no matter what follows Nguyen, including a middle name or addressed name or not, it must be translated and spoken in Vietnamese way and will become something like man-chet-to-diu-nai-tit, so, people will call him Tit.

Nobody cares about what lies before the ‘Tit" in his full name. If he is stopped by a policeman on the street, he would be called "Anh (Brother) Tit" or "Ong (Mister) Tit."

Lots of the fuss now is about how a long full name can complicate paperwork, such as where there is not enough space to write the entire thing.

As explained above, what is left to solve this problem is just regulating how many syllables (or words) for a middle name in addition to the two words at the two ends (the first being family name and the last being the addressed name).

Rachel Klein, Cleveland, US

Parents get to pick the name of their baby, but that baby grows up to be an adult. In America, celebrities give their babies names like Apple and Blue Ivy, and now non-celebrity parents are choosing far more interesting baby names than parents did when I was born. But all of those unique names are not different because of the length. So, I don't think this will stop parents from choosing non-traditional names. Whatever the reason for this law, the main thing is, who is setting an example for the culture, and whoever sets that example, people will want to do the same.

Antony Ocampo, Luzon City, Philippines

Let me count on my fingers real quick how many letters is in "Manny Pacquiao"… Okay, it's thirteen letters. If you add that to a Vietnamese family name, it's still probably less than 25, so I think this law gives a lot of room for people to name their children whatever they want, it just keeps names from getting out of hand.

Nguyen Van Nam, Viet Nam

For people, the name is very important and is attached to them throughout their lives. The names – good or bad, long or short – are not so very important that Vietnamese leaders need to pay attention to or care about them.

To me it's not necessary to regulate the matter. Let the family solve the name issue, I mean let the parents of the baby decide it. This is because the baby that they had they have the right to name, to teach, etc.

Why don't we think about how to train the young generation for better personalities and invest in education for more practice than theory, so the children can have a better life in the future? — VNS

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