Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The names in this blog.

At this fag end of November, it appears my viewership has jumped - mostly by incoming links from See Lai and The Road to Surfdom. Howdy everybody, and props to these good blogs. And if you've been wondering "Why the name", then this is the post for you.

The "Down and Out" part is inspired by George Orwell's book Down and Out in Paris and London. It's a nice read - albeit about not-so-nice conditions: we're talking about empty-walleted poverty in Europe in the middle of the Depression. Fortunately, the author gets a job. Not like my current situation, I'm glad to say. Unfortunately, there are others in this town who could relate very well. Very well, indeed. Việt Nam's not a rich country.

"Sài Gòn" is obviously the name of this city. It became the unofficial name of the city in 1975, when the (then) North Vietnamese conquered the city. Overnight, the official name became "Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh" - literally, "Hồ Chí Minh City". But the name "Sài Gòn" survives in (among other things) the name of the river, and also various company names like Saigontourist.

Living here a year and a half, I naturally think of this city as Sài Gòn. However, the official name makes the snappy acronym "TP.HCM." - and the "DOWN-UP-DOWN-UP-MID" tone of the words also give it some rhythm. That's why I chose the domain "tphcm.blogspot.com".

For some reason, I never use Hồ Chí Minh City, except when teaching English.