Sài Gòn

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See also: Saigon, Saigón, Saïgon, and Sai Gon


Sài Gòn 柴棍 written in Phủ biên tạp lục, a geography text written by Lê Quý Đôn. (From right to left, the second column [characters 3-4] marked by the line.)
Saigon is written here as 柴棍 along with other Southern Vietnamese cities. (On the left of the page, first row after "城庯三")
Sài Gòn 柴棍 in Gia Định thông chí 嘉定通志 (Characters 4-5 marked by an orange line in the middle column.)




The original toponym behind Sài Gòn, was attested earliest as 柴棍, with two phonograms whose Sino-Vietnamese readings are sài and côn respectively, in Lê Quý Đôn's Phủ biên tạp lục (撫邊雜錄 "Miscellaneous Chronicles of the Pacified Frontier", c. 1776), wherein Lê relates that, in 1674, Cambodian prince Ang Nan was installed as uparaja in 柴棍 (Sài Gòn) by Vietnamese forces.

柴棍 also appears later in Trịnh Hoài Đức's Gia Định thành thông chí (嘉定城通志 "Comprehensive Records about the Gia Định Citadel", c. 1820), Nam quốc địa dư giáo khoa thư (南國地輿教科書 "Textbook on the Geography of the Southern Country", 1908), etc.

Adrien Launay's Histoire de la Mission de Cochinchine (1688−1823), "Documents Historiques II: 1728 - 1771" (1924: 190) cites 1747 documents containing the toponyms: provincia Rai-gon, Rai-gon thong (for *Sài Gòn thượng "Upper Saigon"), & Rai-gon-ha (for *Sài Gòn hạ "Lower Saigon").

It is probably a transcription of Khmer ព្រៃនគរ (prɨy nɔkɔɔ), or Khmer ព្រៃគរ (preykôr).

The proposal that Sài Gòn is from non-Sino-Vietnamese reading of Chinese 堤岸 (embankment, SV: đê ngạn) (e.g. by Francis Garnier[1] and Vương Hồng Sển,[2] etc.) has been critiqued as folk-etymological, as: (1) Garnier states that the Chinese settlement Tai-ngon or Tin-gan (i.e. 堤岸 Đê Ngạn ~ Đề Ngạn) – the Chinese name for Chợ Lớn – was found in 1778, yet the underlying toponym had possibly been known to Vietnamese as early as 1674, transcribed as 柴棍, then preserved in Phủ biên tạp lục (c. 1776); (2) 堤岸 has variant form 提岸, thus suggesting that both were transcriptions of a local toponym and thus are cognates to, not originals of, Sài Gòn.



Proper noun


Sài Gòn (柴棍)

  1. (historical) Saigon
  2. (informal, poetic) Ho Chi Minh City
  3. A river in southern Vietnam that rises near Phum Daung in southeastern Cambodia and empties into the Nhà Bè River, which in its turn empties into the East Sea northeast of the Mekong Delta.
  4. A train station in Ward 3, Ho Chi Minh City



Derived terms





  1. ^ Garnier, Francis (1866) "Cholen" in Annuaire de la Cochinchine Francaise pour l’année 1866. pp. 83 - 84. quoted in Vương Hồng Sển (1960) Sài Gòn Năm Xưa, "Phần 2 - 1 - 3 Theo dấu người Tàu, năm 1680 đến miền Nam, năm 1778 lập Đề Ngạn." pdf, p. 16 of 125
  2. ^ Vương Hồng Sển (1960) Sài Gòn Năm Xưa, "Phần 4 - 1" & "Phần 4 - 2" pdf, p. 34-35 of 125
  3. ^ Vương Hồng Sển (1960) Sài Gòn Năm Xưa, "Phần 2 - 1 - 3 Theo dấu người Tàu, năm 1680 đến miền Nam, năm 1778 lập Đề Ngạn." pdf, p. 19 of 125.