Is it offensive to use 'Saigon' instead of 'Ho Chi Minh City'?
I've heard some people talking about Saigon instead of Ho Chi Minh City. Besides the fact that those people usually were French (I'm French myself as well) I was wondering if that could be considered offensive by the Vietnamese people. As Saigon is the old name, they might feel a bit weird if someone was reminiscing about the "good old days" when Vietnam was a French colony.
I have no personal knowledge of this, but Wikipedia says: _"The former name Saigon is still widely used by many Vietnamese, especially in informal contexts. Generally, the term Saigon refers only to the urban districts of Ho Chi Minh City."_
@JonathanReez In my experience of abrupt name changes, using the old name is offensive mostly only to people who have never even been to the place.
I'm surprised someone care about it :). We use both names interchangeably except 2 situations when HCMC is required: official documents and anything relates to government. But even some state-owned corporations still named with Saigon :).
This is anecdotal (and slightly off-topic), but I am a Vietnamese-American born in the US. It's offensive to the Vietnamese diaspora if you *don't* call it Saigon. Obviously this question is about what to call it when you're in the country of Vietnam, but to the diaspora that fled the country after the Vietnam War, calling it Ho Chi Minh City ranges from mildly to extremely offensive.
What exactly to you stand to gain by using the old name? If you already know the new name, just use that and be done with.
I still call Myanmar Burma, as it was Burma for most of my life......and the Burmese Python is still Burmese......not Myanmar-ese. I am personally against the changing of city names by a government instead of by it's people, therefore Saigon is Saigon. In my opinion :P
I call that old beautiful land *Israel*. Never shall I address her as *Palestine*. My not being offensive to myself and much of my people, I am quite aware, is actually offensive to many who wish they could boycott the montana butte out of the economics of my livelihood.
In about 2000 a female M.I.T. graduate student from Saigon told me that Saigon is still the commonly used name of the city and that only communists call it Ho Chi Minh. It seemed clear that she meant the latter are exceptions.
@MaskedMan It seems that most locals use the old name, the old name is perhaps more widely understood outside of the country, so the question can be reversed to say what do you stand to gain by using the new name?
Maybe They Might Be Giants needs to write a song to educate everyone about the distinction, like they did for Istanbul...
According to Fodor's Guide to Vietnam, 4th Edition, published 2016, under Introduction to Ho Chi Minh City on page 38:
Still called Saigon by most residents,
According to National Geographic Vietnam, 3rd Edition, published 2014, under To Say or Not to Say on page 197:
... The river still remains Saigon. Buses still flash "Saigon" as their destination. The largest state run tourist company is Saigon Tourist. The three-letter airport code is SGN. In fact, the city's District 1 officially remains Saigon. So go ahead and say it.
So, yes, it is unlikely to offend anyone.