Is It Vietnam Or Viet Nam?

Is It Vietnam Or Viet Nam?

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If you are traveling to Vietnam, you may see Vietnam broken up into two words; the word Vietnam maybe also be shown as Việt Nam for the nation’s name.

The words both Vietnam and Việt Nam are correct to use for the country of Vietnam. Vietnam should be used when referring to or writing about Vietnam in English. Việt Nam, or splitting Vietnam into two words, is used when referring to Vietnam in the Vietnamese language.

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Both Vietnam and Việt Nam Are Correct

Using both the spelling Vietnam and Việt Nam are correct to use for Vietnam. Vietnam is how the name of Vietnam should be spelled in English.

But the division of the two words or Việt Nam is the name of Vietnam in Vietnamese. Sometimes you may find that a Vietnamese person may write Viet Nam or Việt Nam when using English.

Here are some essential words for Vietnam that should be used between Vietnamese and English

Terms EnglishVietnamese
Vietnam (Country)Vietnam Việt Nam
Vietnamese (Language) Vietnamese Tiếng Việt
Vietnamese (Person’s Nationality) Vietnamese Người Việt Nam
Vietnamese Vs. English words

As you can see from this list, the names Vietnam and Vietnamese are pretty straightforward in English. Vietnam means the country, and Vietnamese can mean either the language or someone of Vietnamese descent. However, in the Vietnamese language, each of these terms is different.

Where Did The Name Vietnam Come From?

We are not sure where the name Vietnam comes from. Việt has been used for a long time to describe the most significant national and ethnic group in Vietnam. Many believe it may have come from the Chinese language, as the Chinese ruled Vietnam for over 1,000 years.

In Chinese, the name Việt could mean” beyond,” meaning people who lived beyond the boundaries of China but were still part of China. Nam in Chinese means the south, so Việt Nam could mean “the people living beyond the southern border of China.”

This meaning in Chinese for Vietnam would fit the word Việt Nam geographically; Vietnam borders southern China, so the Vietnamese live beyond the borders of China.

This is further confirmed as many early Chinese histories refer to the area of Vietnam as Nam Việt or the southernmost Viets or people beyond the southern border of China.

China also refers to southern Viets, eastern Viets, and other Viets. But it is only in the land area of Vietnam that the name Việt Nam describes a group of people within the Vietnamese boundaries.

Other Chinese Names For Vietnam

Việt or Việt Nam is not the only name China used to describe their southern neighbors. From 111 BC, when China invaded Vietnam, we can see the word Annam being used, which means “pacified south.” Many times the people were also called Annam people.

The term Việt was never used much when the Chinese ruled Vietnam but was a term that was preferred to be used during Vietnamese times of independence. In the 11th Century, the name Dai Việt was used, which means the great Việt or the great Vietnamese people. Another similar term was also Dai Co Viet.

The name Tonkin has been used since 1428, after the Le Dynasty came into power in Vietnam. Tonkin meant the ”Eastern Capital” and referred mainly to the area of Hanoi and not present-day Vietnam.

Vietnam or Việt Nam came from the early 19th Century when the Nguyen Dynasty ruled Vietnam. The Nguyen Dynasty was quite close to China, and so they chose the name Việt Nam or Vietnam as a way to appease China and the Vietnamese people.

It is believed that Việt Nam or Vietnam is a compound that comes from Dai Việt and Annam, i.e., pulling the Việt out of Dai Việt and Nam out of Annam.

Name Of Vietnam Under Colonial Powers

Like the Chinese, the other colonial powers that ruled or came to Vietnam did not use the term Vietnam to describe the land area and people. The Portuguese used the terms Cochin China; the term Cochin China distinguished it from Chochin in India.

The French also used Cochin for South Vietnam, the middle region as Annam, and the north as Tonkin. They also labeled Vietnam as part of French Indochina.

Vietnamese Are Proud Of Vietnam

The terms Vietnam or Việt Nam have many nationalistic implications in Vietnam. The term was not used under the colonial powers, so Vietnam or Việt Nam has a proud nationalistic and anti-foreign meaning among the Vietnamese.

Today the Vietnamese are incredibly proud that their country is again called by its proper name of Vietnam or Việt Nam.

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If your time is limited and you can only travel to Vietnam or Taiwan, I recommend traveling to Vietnam. The reason is that Vietnam is more cost-effective, offers some great cultural experiences and is a food lovers’ haven, offers great history, arts and other things.

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