SAN JOSÉ STATE UNIVERSITY
ECONOMICS DEPARTMENT
Thayer Watkins

Place Names in Vietnamese

Place names in Vietnamese are similar to place names in Chinese languages as a result of the millenium-long domination of Vietnam by the Chinese Empire.

Place Names

The first step in decoding Vietnamese place names is to learn the four directions.
These are, expressed without some diacritical marks,:

DIRECTIONS
 north
bac
 
west
tây
 east
dong
 south
nam
 

The names of geographic features are:

GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES
hariver
xuijinchannel, link
cao, nuimountain(s), height
haiocean, sea
giangexpanse(s), spreadout
vunghole
vinhbay, valley
forest

The names of colors and numbers are:

COLORS
trangwhite
dowhite
sac hong
cam cam-churong
pink
denblack
vangyellow
nhur chugray
sac xanh
sac lam
blue
timviolet
do tiapurple
do timpurple red
mau naubrown
xanhgreen


NUMBERS
onemot
twohai
threeba
fourbon
fivenam
sixsau
sevenbay
eighttam
ninechin
tenmuroi



Some names for administrative entities and for attributes are:

ADMINISTRATIVE ENTITIES
quocnation
thu doprovincial capital



Some city names:

CITY NAMES
Ha Noi"mother water" or
"inside (the bend)
in the river"
Cam Ranh"orange border"
Tanh Hoa"proud flower"
Haiphong"up to the ocean"
Nha Trang"easy thing"
Ninh Binh"curfew peace"
Ha Tinh"clear water"
Bien Hoa"peaceful border"



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