Street Names in Saigon

A week or two ago, I wrote here about street names in Saigon and how they—and the city itself—changed during the thirteen years (on and off) that I was in Vietnam and after the conquest by the North Vietnamese. I puzzled over the name the North Vietnamese gave to the main thoroughfare in the city, the street that the French had called Rue Catinat and the non-communist South Vietnamese, before 1975, had named Tự Do, meaning “Freedom.” The North Vietnamese renamed that street Đồng Khởi. In my earlier post, I reported that I was told that the new name means “total rebellion” or “total uprising,” but I couldn’t verify that translation with any of the source material I had on hand.

A kind Vietnamese reader sent me the following:

Đồng khởi = Uprising at the same time and on all fronts. “Đồng” from “đồng loạt”, meaning “at once, altogether”. “Khởi” from “khởi nghĩa”, uprising. [So] Đồng khởi = Uprising at the same time and on all fronts.

I’m grateful for the language assistance. I’m wondering if the compound “Đồng khởi” is a term made up by the communists. I have no way of confirming or denying that guess. But I am struck by the replacement of “freedom” with “total rebellion” as the name for the main street in Saigon.

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