Origin of “Annamese”

The name of the novel, Last of the Annamese, comes from an ancient name for Vietnam, An Nam. The Chinese referred to the troublesome non-Chinese in South China as the Yuëh Nan, best translated as the trouble-makers in the south. The term became, in Vietnamese, Viet Nam. When the trouble-makers moved further south into what is now Vietnam, they called their country by a series of different names. One was An Nam, peace in the south, which the Chinese interpreted as the pacified in the south. But the inhabitants were anything but pacified. They fought the Chinese for the better part of two millennia and finally established their independence. Nevertheless, An Nam remained a favorite name. The French used it to designate Central Vietnam as distinguished from the north (Tonkin) and the south (Cochinchina).

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