I’m 100% Vietnamese, but honestly, I’ve never asked myself “Why is Nguyen so common?”. Until I’m abroad, my international friends happened to ask me this question.
So, in this article, we deep dive into the historical, cultural, and social factors that made Nguyen such a common Vietnamese surname.
How common is Nguyen?
Based on different sources, Nguyen accounts for around 30% to 39%. This makes Nguyen the most common Vietnamese last name in comparison to other ones, such as Tran, Le, Pham, Huynh, Hoang, Phan, Vu, Vo, Dang, Bui, Do, Ho, Ngo, etc.
Why is Nguyen so common?
Because of the Nguyen dynasty
Historically, the Nguyen dynasty played a significant role in explaining the story behind: why is Nguyen so common?
In the early years of the 19th century, the Nguyen dynasty held dominion over the nation. Simultaneously, individuals from other dynasties adopted the surname Nguyen to secure themselves from getting revenge.
Plus, during the era of Nguyen’s rule, those who shared the royal surname were often bestowed with benefits. This circumstance prompted a considerable number of individuals, including prisoners, to exploit the situation by changing their last names to Nguyen.
Last, but certainly not least, Nguyen is the final royal family in Vietnamese history. There’s no need to change to the other surnames anymore. For that reason, the populace of Nguyen families proliferated throughout the expanse of the country, reaching unprecedented numbers.
Because of the colonisation
During periods of colonisation, adopting the Nguyen surname became a way for Vietnamese individuals to assert their identity and heritage in the face of external pressures. This act of resistance bolstered the name’s significance.
Because of the social life
Socially, the Nguyen surname offered advantages in networking and community building. Its commonality facilitated connections, furthering its popularity.
Is it easy to pronounce Nguyen?
Some shared that with only one single syllable, it’s quite simple to pronounce Nguyen.
This could be right when we compare Nguyen with other international family names, but with the rest of Vietnamese surnames, I don’t think so.
Firstly, Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language. Each word has one syllable. So, Nguyen is no different from Tran, Le, Pham, Huynh.
Secondly, when it comes to writing, Nguyen has even more letters and is obviously longer than other Vietnamese surnames such as Le, Ly, Do, Vu, Vo.
Last, Nguyen (Nguyễn in Vietnamese) has the accent “~”, one of the most difficult accents to pronounce. Our Western friends often call it “Wen” or “N Win” or “N Wen”. Click below to see how they pronounce it 👇
So what do you think? Is it easy or difficult to pronounce Nguyen? 😃
How do Vietnamese pronounce Nguyen?
Different regions in Vietnam have their own accent, and it’s very typical. This difference makes Nguyen therefore pronounced differently, especially between North and South Vietnam.
We divide Nguyen into 2 parts: Ng and uyen
Click below to see how it sounds 👇
Over to you
Why is Nguyen such a common Vietnamese surname? The first time I heard it from a friend, honestly I didn’t have the answer right away. “Ohm, yeah, that sounds right, but why is that?” was my reaction. 😅
But now we know. I hope you find this article useful. Try to pronounce Nguyen, and let me know if it’s easy or difficult in the comment below. If you have any questions about Vietnam, don’t hesitate to ask me.
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