Sister Two and Brother Six

Published June 15, 2015 in Episode 8 

  Children in Sài Gòn have fun with the camera. (Photo: Michael Rehfelt. CC BY 2.0)

Children in Sài Gòn have fun with the camera. (Photo: Michael Rehfelt. CC BY 2.0)

In your family, do you call your oldest sibling Anh Hai or Chị Hai? Or maybe you have an aunt that you have always called Bác Tư, Aunt 4, never knowing her real name.  

Why does Vietnamese culture have the practice of giving nicknames based on birth order? It is not to simply keep track of how many children there are in a family. We learn from Professor Quyên Di of the University of California, Los Angeles that this numbering system is related to social hierarchy and close bonds in a family. There are also regional differences in how this nickname is used.

What would your nickname be according to this numbered system?

Birth Order

First Born

Second Born

Third Born

Fourth Born

Youngest

North Việt Nam

Anh/Chị Cả

none

none

none

Em Út

South Việt Nam

 Anh/Chị Hai

Anh/Chị Ba

Anh/Chị Tư

Anh/Chị Năm

Em Út