WAG 25-02-07-a: SSN Applicants with Southeast Asian Names

Vietnamese refugees generally use their names in a pattern directly reversed from the American style, with the family name (surname) shown first and the given name (first name) shown last (e.g., Nguyen Thi Mai). The words "Van" and "Thi" appearing in the middle of Vietnamese names are not given names but rather articles identifying the sex of the individual. "Van" indicates a male, "Thi" a female.

SSA records use both the Vietnamese and American styles:


Mai Thi Nguyen - American style

Nguyen Thi Mai - Vietnamese style

Cambodian names also use surname first.

Some Laotian names (e.g., those of the Hmong tribesmen) are also listed surname first, but others follow the American pattern. Some Laotians whose names are used in a "given name-surname" pattern do not routinely use the entire name but instead go only by the given name.

Example: The refugee, Sisaphong Pantanavong, is known only as Sisaphong.