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Why a Newborn Baby is not Given a Name

There are many reasons why Vietnamese do not name their newborn babies when they were born. The reasons are belief, olden government policy in the old society and family customs.

Normally, a Vietnamese has many names from birth to death. When a baby is born, it is called as “thằng Cu”, “thằng Cò”, “con Hĩm”, “thằng Mực”, ”con Cún”, “thang Chắt em”, “con Chắt ả”… These are general names to call a newborn baby. “thằng” is for male and “con” is for female. In Vietnamese belief, the name of the baby is more ordinary, the baby is easier to nourish. After getting married, he or she is called as “Anh Đồ” for male or “Chi Xã” for female. When he or she has children, we can call him or her the name of her first-born child, When his or her first-born child has first-born, he or she is called by his or her the name of the first-born grandchild. After passing away, he or she has a taboo name for worshiping. If the person has social standing, he is called by his family name like “Cụ đồ”, “Cụ Tam Nguyên Yên Đổ”,”Ông Trạng Trình”,…It is also a way addressing people of Chinese.

In many names like mentioning above, only the taboo name is the main name. This name is recorded in family annals and accepted by government. In the past, each village had a communal council which managed the registering of vital statistics but not strictly. The government only cared about the people which age is from eight-teen because from this age, a person had to pay head-money, to be conscripted or to be recruited coolies by force. The registering the name late is better for this person because he does not have to pay head-money and do other duties maybe in several years in life.

According to some family customs, the name of the child has to be avoided taboo name of his ancestors and follow the recording name on family annals custom. So the baby has a temporary name first, after checking the name of his ancestors, he is given his own taboo name.