My name is Minh Tan, and I was born in Viet Nam. My family emigrated to Canada when I was eight years old, after taking the boat illegally out of Viet Nam to Malaysia and being accepted as refugees by Canada. English was my second language once upon a time, but I think and dream in it now so it no longer qualifies as such.

This blog contains poetry I have written over the years.

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  1. Hello Minh Tan
    Can i ask a question about your name please? Could you tell me what Minh Tan means in English? Google Translate is hit-and-miss i find. (There may be a range of meanings I am aware.)
    I am a writer too and presently engaged in revising a piece which includes this name.
    Many thanks


    1. Hi Pavle, sorry for the delayed reply. Google Translate in Vietnamese is very hit and miss, but Vietnamese also a hard language to translate to and from. That’s because all words are one syllable, which means they often need multiple words for one word in another language, like a two word or short phrase. Problem is each of the words is not exclusive to the phrase, and sometimes have no meaning on its own. For example, A B might be Vietnamese for something. A C might be for another. A might mean something entirely differently on its own, or something sort of like A B, or maybe A C.

      So how does Minh Tan translate? Tan may mean “new”, but it’s just a Chinese family line. Minh is used with a lot of other names in Vietnamese as a combination name where, while it is technically a middle name, you don’t use it separately, always with the first name. Some translate Minh to “intelligent”, but that’s only one of those A B usage (thong minh). Swap that other word with some others and you could get something else all together.

      Vietnamese names go FAMILY, MIDDLE and GIVEN in that order. Minh is often used as both Middle and Given. Mine is Tan Minh Tiet, so Minh doesn’t mean much on its own, even though I use it solo in English for convenience. Minh Tiet means “intelligent prognosticator”. Someone who looks into the future, of sorts. I’m an analyst looking for trending or signs of things about to happen, or degree of it. I guess I’m fulfilling my name. 🙂

      Hope that helps.



  2. Thank you very much for this Minh, very kind of you.
    Being a speaker of another language I am very much aware of the complexities involved.
    Here in Singapore we have a Vietnamese community, and in my home town of Melbourne an even larger. A fascinating, wonderful group of people. Just today I met a young German-Viet here whose mother is a translator. The other day too I finished reading Greene’s Quiet American. Very encouraging to come upon such a strong, enlightened fan of the culture from that early period (albeit so late in my reading life!).
    Best wishes with yr work. i’ll send you my “Pure Heart” (Minh Tan) story if the magazine where i sent it publish.


    1. Sorry had to be in a hurry earlier. I wish you the best of luck with your story entry. I hope I’ll be able to read it someday, and thanks for using (and keeping) the name Minh Tan for your character. 🙂


      1. Cheers Minh Tan, and thanks. Yes, we in Australia are sensitive to things Vietnamese — for many reasons. One last tip in case you missed “our” (your) Nam Le, who made a splash a few yrs ago now with his short story collection, The Boat. The title story stood head and shoulders over the others i thought. Best Pavle

        Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2015 21:11:51 +0000 To:


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