How popular is the baby name Bich in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Bich and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Bich.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bich

Number of Babies Named Bich

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Bich

Growing Up with the Name Bich

What was it like to grow up in the U.S. in the ’70s and ’80s with a Vietnamese name like Bich?

Here’s an excerpt from Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen, who moved to Michigan with her family as a 1-year-old in 1975.

In Vietnamese [Bich] meant jade, which was all well and fine in Vietnam but meant nothing in Michigan. It was pronounced with an accent tilting up, the tone leading almost toward a question, with a silent h. Bic! I hated the sound–too harsh, too hard, and the c so slight that it evaporated in the air. I preferred to hear it as Bit. The sound seemed tidier, quieter. So that’s what I made my name over to be, and it was fine until my classmates learned to read and swear. By second grade I was being regularly informed that I was a bitch. I started fantasizing then about being Beth, or maybe Vanessa or Polly. I longed to be Jenny Adams with the perfect simple name to match her perfect honeyed curls. […] I felt I could judge the nature and compassion of teachers, especially substitutes, by the way they read my name. The good ones hesitated and gently spelled it, avoiding a phonetic pronunciation. The evil ones simply called out, Bitch? Bitch Nu-guy-in?

Bich wasn’t allowed to use an American name, but other kids she knew were allowed to:

Their parents were anxious for them to fit into Grant Rapids and found the three quickest avenues: food, money, and names. Food meant American burgers and fries. Money meant Jordache jeans and Izod shirts. Names meant a whole new self. Overnight, Thanh’s children, Truoc and Doan, became Tiffany and David, and other families followed. Huong to Heather, Quoc to Kevin, Lien to Lynette. Most of the kids chose their own names and I listened while they debated the merits of Jennifer versus Michelle, Stephanie versus Crystal. They created two lives for themselves: the American one and the Vietnamese one–Oriental, as we all said back then. Out in the world they were Tiffany and David; at home they were Truoc and Doan. They mothers cooked two meals–pho and sautes for the elders, Campbell’s soup and Chef Boyardee for the kids.

In primary school, Bich knew one other Vietnamese girl, Loan, who also continued to use her original name. They became friends.

Bitch and Loan, some of the kids said on the playground. Hey, bitch, can you loan me some money?

Nowadays, Bich Minh Nguyen tends to go by the name Beth.

I wonder what proportion of the Vietnamese-American kids in Bich’s generation went by an “American” name outside the home. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any data on this, have any of you guys?

Source: Nguyen, Bich Minh. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir. New York, Penguin: 2008.

Related: Hebrew Names Lost In Translation

Vietnamese Names in America, 1975

The theme this week? Names that tie back to the end of the Vietnam War.

Yesterday’s name, Chaffee, isn’t the only Vietnam-related name we see on the charts in 1975. There are plenty of Vietnamese names that pop up that year as well. Here are the ones I’ve spotted so far:

Vietnamese Boy Name Debuts, 1975 Vietnamese Girl Name Debuts, 1975
Viet, 23 baby boys [top debut]
Hung, 16 [4th]
Nam, 14 [6th]
Huy, 13 [7th]
Long, 11
Vu, 10
Tran, 9
Duc, 8
Dung, 8
Hoang, 8
My, 8
Nguyen, 8
An, 7
Luan, 7
Phong, 7
Binh, 6
Minh, 6
Quoc, 6
Anh, 5
Hai, 5
Linh, 5
Quang, 5
Tien, 5
Yun, 5
Anh, 10 baby girls [58th highest debut]
Phuong, 9
Nguyen, 7
Thu, 7
Bich, 6
Linh, 6
Thao, 6
Trang, 6
Chau, 5
Hoa, 5
Lien, 5
Ngoc, 5
Viet, 5
Yen, 5

Many other Vietnamese names — Bao, Chinh, Dao, Giang, Huong, Khanh, Lam, Nguyet, Phuc, Quyen, Suong, Thanh, Vuong, and so forth — debut on the SSA’s list during the late ’70s and early ’80s.

One of the Vietnamese babies born at Chaffee in 1975 was Dat Nguyen, who went on to become the first Vietnamese-American to play in the NFL. His name, Dat, wasn’t popular enough to make the national list until 1979.

[For context, one of the pop culture names that debuted in 1975 was Chakakhan. Another was Tennille, inspired by Captain & Tennille.]

Baby Name Battle – Owen vs. Oen

baby name battle - owen vs. oen

A reader named Tyler got in touch recently to ask me about using Oen as an alternative to the very trendy Owen.

Here are Tyler’s questions:

I was browsing your site and came across the name Oen, which I thought seemed like a unique way to spell Owen and I really liked it. I spoke about the name to some friends and was told by a dutch friend of mine that in dutch, Oen apparently means (and I kid you not, unfortunately) something along the lines of a castrated donkey, and is slang for moron and idiot, among other things.

I was just wondering what you thought the likelihood would be of an Oen being made fun of or potentially not being hired for jobs because of the translation? Do you know if there are a lot of names that mean something not-so-great after translation?

My heart sank when my friend told me, I really liked Oen.

According to Wiktionary, the Dutch word oen does indeed mean “castrated donkey” or “nincompoop, moron, dumb person.”

It doesn’t sound like Owen, though. Oen is a single-syllable word with a vowel sound that’s something like the oo of “took.”

Here are my thoughts on the name Oen:

Employment: Names that signal race or class can be problematic during a job hunt, but Oen doesn’t do this. It just happens to have an undesirable meaning in a non-English language. I doubt this would make it a barrier to employment.

Teasing: I think someone named Oen is more likely to be teased about the spelling of his name than an obscure translation. Names with more conspicuous negative associations like Mangina, Dudu, Phuc, Bich, Randy and Fanny are much riskier than Oen in this respect.

Spelling: Tyler didn’t mention spelling, but I think it’s an important issue. The name Oen will always have to be explained to people. “Owen without the w” is pretty simple as far as spelling explanations go, but saying it over and over again for an entire lifetime? Hm.

So that’s my take on Oen. I don’t think the Dutch translation is a big deal, but I do think the spelling could be.

Which version do you prefer, Owen or Oen?

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