The Catalog Entry for South Asian Names with Special Reference to Vietnamese Names

by L. Newman


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A solution to the problem of determining the entry point, or filing element, for Vietnamese and other South Asian names, which have always presented a problem for Western catalogers. There is no literature dealing specifically with Vietnamese names, and two recent authoritative guides for librarians give opposite rules. According to Rand personnel who have lived in Vietnam, family or clan names appear first but persons are referred to by their given names, which appear last (the second name denotes rank, position in the family, etc.). This is in keeping with S. R. Ranganathan's basic rule for rendering South Asian personal names. It is suggested that, for example, Nguyen van Thieu be alphabetized as Thieu, Nguyen-van, and Nguyen cao Ky, as Ky, Nguyen-cao. To complete the application of this rule, catalogers will need lists to help them to identify double surnames, words that are occupational or honorifics rather than names, etc.

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