Siyengo Soulari (siyengo) wrote in little_details,
Siyengo Soulari

Spelling of Vietnamese Names - "Vien" (or similar)

Hello everybody. :D I've been whacked in the head by a stumbling block.

When I first created the cast of characters for this particular novel, back in the bad old days of 2004, I was young and foolish. Why go through all the bother of naming my characters properly, I thought, when I could just feed random Japanese words through Babelfish?! It took me two years to realise the error of my ways. Now I'm renaming them all, and it's tormenting me.

So. One of my families is second-generation Vietnamese-Australian. Most of them I have names for. The eldest one is giving me difficulties. I want to call him Vien, or thereabouts, because it's a pretty name and I like it.

Unfortunately, I've been through about six baby-naming sites, and I'm in a dilemma. Most of them just put the name as it is above, without inflections. However, one has it written with an accented i (Vîen) and one has it with an accented e (Viên), and I'm pretty sure that both these sites were written by actual Vietnamese speakers, so I'm bewildered.

How do I spell this name? I know Vietnamese is a tonal language, so if I put the accent in the wrong place, it'll be like naming him "fish-cake" or "melted plastic" or "I am a scrupulous parrot indeed." I've tried putting it through Google, but I can't speak Vietnamese, and can't tell the difference between names and words (plus, the Google filter seems to think that Vietnamese=English, which doesn't help.)

So, are there any people out there who know whether it's spelled Vien, Vîen, Viên, or something completely different?

Or should I just call him Bob?
Tags: vietnam (misc), ~languages: vietnamese, ~names

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