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Phuc Dat Bich Is Beyond Tired of Getting Kicked Off Facebook (nymag.com)
104 points by percept on Nov 22, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

I don't think his name is real.

I live in Vietnam and when I showed this to my wife, who in turned showed it to her cousins, everyone was fairly incredulous claiming that there is no way this was a real Vietnamese name.

Bich is not a last name used here, it's actually a female first name. Dat is also not really used as a middle name either.

Bạch is a last name, so the only thing I can think is that there was a mixup in immigration, similar to how european last names changed during migration to the US.

According to the registry of people living in Sweden, there is a "Phuong Lam Bich" living in the country. Is that not a Vietnamese name, or do you think it's another mixup?

There's also a "Tiffany Luong Thi Bich."

Vietnamese names can be a little strange. In college, I had a professor whose first name was usually given to women. All of my Vietnamese friends thought the prof was a woman when they first heard the name.

I know the feeling. My name is Simone and I am from Italy. In most of the world, they think it's a female name (usual guess: French lady) until they see me :)

This sounds much like the famous "Boy named Sue" song.

Perhaps the last name and first name were confused: Vietnamese names are sometimes written with the given name last, right?

One would think FB would have in its data store a "This account has been flagged in the past and it has been reviewed and approved no need to review again" checkbox by now

Reminds me of customer service:

1. gets through

2. spends a few minutes explaining the issue

3. “I’ll connect you to <other department>”

4. spends a few minutes explaining the issue

5. “Wait 24h. Call again if issue persists.”

6. go to step 1


I had terrible issues with Comcast, and after the fourth or so call I made sure that the agent wrote down all the necessary details, and I would tell agents in later calls to read the details. Not that my problem was ever resolved, but at least I didn't have to explain it every time.

Sadly, they don't.

I'm transgender, and I've heard of several people in my community who are repeatedly targeted by hate groups who report their profiles for using a fake name, and each time they have to scan their legal name change papers and send them to Facebook.

After you've sent a passport scan, you'd think they'd keep the scan on file (though that might be problematic) or at least keep a "legal ID verified" flag.

Facebook really don't care, do they?

> Facebook really don't care, do they?

Mr. Bich one of over a billion users of their service; no, they really don't care. Even the negative PR from this situation is a blip on the radar, and will be forgotten by everyone except Mr. Bich a month from now.

I find their treatment of transgender folks even more egregious, but again, Facebook can afford to not care. Even if they caused 10,000 people a day to stop using the service, it would take over 300 years for everyone to leave.

For Mr. Bich, I can sort of understand it. But transgender and e.g. other groups like first nations / Indian groups that have also reported problems having their names recognised could quickly escalate to anti-discrimination lawsuits if they're not careful.

Mr. Bich is also a potential lawsuit. Yes, his name might be perceived to be a bad joke by English speakers. Doesn't mean it's not discriminatory.

The problem is that it's likely to be harder to demonstrate a pattern of behaviour that would be sufficient to convince anyone that it's not just an unfortunate set of misunderstandings that can, and do, also occur for people of other ethnicities and nationalities. Discriminating based on your name would generally not be illegal. Most places it would first become illegal if you are discriminating a protected class, which would tend to mean race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age or some subset of those depending on jurisdiction.

Ah, yes, you have a point there.

It is ironic isn't it. They pride themselves in fancy, fast, optimized graph storage and querying. Best minds at works, yadda, yadda. But they don't seem to manage to implement a flag like that.

> They pride themselves in fancy, fast, optimized graph storage and querying. But they don't seem to manage to implement a flag like that.

There are massive organizational worlds between optimized graph storage and the operations/customer support processes that lead to a bit like this being introduced and maintained. So it's not really ironic at all, because it's almost certainly not a technical issue.

But it's one that has an easy technical solution.

And it's not like it required creativity to think up. Anyone here could have recognized the feature that was missing to improve the procedure.

Reminds me of the Vietnamese noodle bar in London named "Phật Phúc" which translates to Happy Buddha (Vietnamese puts adjectives after the noun so it's the "Phật" that translates to Buddha). I presume they thought about the likely English mispronunciation when they picked it...

(There's apparently also a Phật Phúc in Ho Chi Mihn City - a Chinese takeaway)

I wonder if the Norwegians having the fairly common first name(s) "Odd Even"/"Odd-Even" have any issues. "Odd" is of course also a great first name on its own, especially if English is your second language: "Hello, my name is Odd". "Odd, how?". "No, it really is just Odd" (etc).

(Odd means point/edge/tip, as in "spear tip/point", and is pronounced fairly close to "odd", "Even" is pronounced with long e-s, like "end" -- and is a variation on Øyvind which is probably from Norse Øy - luck and Vindr (warrior)).

I'm not sure what would be the best common last name to match it with. I suppose the foreign "Moore" would be good. "Even Moore".

Another problematic Norwegian name is Gun.

A friend of my mother named Gun supposedly had to add an extra N to be allowed on Facebook.

Gun is so rare that as a Norwegian I still had to look it up to see if anyone actually used it. Apparently there are about 350 of them vs. about 9000 with "Gunn".

We do have lots of unusual variations in use, though, so I'm not surprised. It was only after World War II that these things were accurately recorded, and so I have an uncle that has one spelling of his name on his birth certificate, one in his passport, but uses a third spelling for everything else. How he's managed to keep that going, I don't know, since e.g. bank records in Norway are keyed to the same central government register used to issue passports.

19 407 people named Gun in Sweden and more than 1 000 in Finland.

There's even a 'Gun Berlin' and quite a few 'Gun Persson's in Sweden. As well as 'Rune Fart', and a 'Shit' who lives in Angered, though that is not a traditional Swedish name.

Now I'm curious whether the differences in name (and more generally, language) sounds are essentially just based on the fluke of whatever sounds happened to start being adopted in various regions millennia ago, and then slowly evolved... or if there is actually a genetic difference between people of different races that causes some sounds to be slightly more pleasant-sounding and/or more easily pronounced than others, which had some influence on the sounds that were more likely to develop into language (and to be picked for names).

Given the wild variations in phonetics just in countries colonised by England (compare: Texas, New Zealand, Wales), it hardly seems necessary to stretch as far as "genetic differences" for explanation.

Or for that matter, the wild variations in just Vietnam. Regional variations in pronunciation of the same words just within Vietnam are pretty stark.

It might be regional. I recall reading some hypothesis that certain sounds were more popular in regions with more humid climates. I can't remember if there was any backing to the suggestion, though.

The article points out that the name is pronounced "Foo Da Bic"

This is not even close to the actual Vietnamese pronunciation.

[Phúc] is pronounced close to Fook in American English. Without the heavy k-ending.

[Đạt] is close to Dac without the heavy c-undertone ending.

[Bích] is kind of close to Bic, but you have to say Bic really fast with very light c ending.

pattern: Vietnamese pronunciation is generally neutral throughout a word. There's no need for emphasis unless emotion is included.

It sounds to me that "Foo Da Bic" is just someones quick and dirty description to avoid having to go into what "without the heavy k-ending" and "without the heavy c-undertone ending" and "with very light c-ending" means and that they got it reasonably close with that in mind.

Reality is that nobody will pronounce it right just from those descriptions anyway - Vietnamese isn't exactly a trivial language to pronounce for people who don't know the sounds already -, so they're just going for illustrating that it isn't what every English speaker first think it'll sounds like.

Can you make a recording somewhere?

Why, when romanising their alphabet, did the Vietnamese do it in a way that didn't line up with any European language?

You might be interested in the article, "The origin of the peculiarities of the Vietnamese alphabet", https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00918824/document

The short version of it is,

The missionaries who adapted the Latin alphabet to Vietnamese were Portuguese, Italian and French. The resulting spelling inherited some peculiarities from the spelling systems of Romance languages.

For example, on the phonology of 'ch',

Among prepalatals, the unvoiced stop CH is taken from the Portuguese and the Spanish, which themselves borrowed this notation from Old French, where it had been created to transcribe a new sound, not found in Latin.

No romanisation system quite lines up with a specific European language. After all, no European language has the same phonology as the language you're romanising.

You also might make apparently strange choices so that the romanisation reflects certain relationships between phonemes or within the language's native writing system. For example, the nihon-siki and kunrei-siki romanisations of Japanese render し and じ as 'si' and 'zi', even though they'd be pronounced more like 'shi' and 'ji', because し is usually grouped with さ ('sa'), す ('su'), せ ('se') and そ ('so'), and じ is grouped with ざ ('za'), ず ('zu'), ぜ ('ze'), and ぞ ('zo'). The Hepburn romanisation of Japanese, on the other hand, renders them as 'shi' and 'ji' for better pronunciation by English speakers, but this obscures the relationship to the other syllables. It also introduces an ambiguity when transliterating back into Japanese's own script, as there are actually two other symbols in the same family which can be used to write these same sounds, which Hepburn can't romanise differently as it needs to present clear pronunciation.

Pinyin provides another example. It has the three groups of initials (leading consonants) z-, c- and s-; zh-, ch- and sh-; and j-, q- and x-. An English speaker would pronounce none of these correctly, and they don't match any European language. But there's an internal consistency here within Pinyin: the first group are alveolar consonants, the second retroflex, the third alveo-palatal, and the first initial in each group is an unaspirated affricate, the second an aspirated affricate, the third a fricative. It's providing useful information which is lost if you try to make it so it's pronounced correctly by English speakers - which is rather fruitless given there's some phonetic distinctions in there which don't exist in English.

> [Hanyu Pinyin] has the three groups of initials (leading consonants) z-, c- and s-; zh-, ch- and sh-; and j-, q- and x-. An English speaker would pronounce none of these correctly

Well, almost. An English speaker is fairly likely to pronounce sh- correctly, and certain to pronounce s- correctly.

The ambiguous characters in Hepburn are zu (ず) and zu (du) (づ) and o(お) and o (wo) (を). They can be quite confusing to new learners.

I think pinyin is hard to understand for a layman. Eg how many people said Guangzhou or Sichuan correctly on the first go?!

I don't think pinyin is that hard to understand as a layman, at least no harder than a typical Latin-alphabet language other than your own. It's not great if your goal were a phonetic transliteration into English, but even most European languages would fail that test. For example Polish has quite unintuitive spelling for an English speaker. Same with Portuguese and Danish for that matter. If you put pinyin alongside those languages as just another Latin-script-using-language, I don't find it especially weird, basically in the normal range of variation. An English speaker has to learn specific rules to pronounce it (approximately) correctly, but not an unusually large number of them.

Good point, like "Ypres" or "Orleans". Thanks

You forgot zi/ji (じ, si/shi with a dakuten diacritic) and zi/di (ぢ, ti/chi with a dakuten diacritic)

O and wo are not ambiguous in Hepburn, as they are being explicitly differentiated.

Another thing that Hepburn doesn't help with is は, transliterated as "wa" in the case it's the enclitic particle, instead of "ha".

"wo" is definitely o in Hepburn. It is in ISO 3602 too, but that has an exception for wo.

I did some research on Japanese wikipedia (四つ仮名) and found that most uses of di and du were changed to zi and zu in 1986: ふじ(mountain) and ふぢ (flower) are now both written ふじ.

There is a list of words that have changed and ones that haven't.

The government decided that the particle wa should be written ha in 1955:

助詞のはは,はと書くことを本則とする (an actual law)

I don't really have a point, but I now know a lot about kana usage.

ISO 3602 makes a lot of sense to me because it is unambiguous in principal, but also allows phonetic spelling when necessary.

With the number of variations of romaji I have seen, even in official usage, it's a wonder why they bother.

I have found Japan to be a place that makes a lot of rules, then makes following them optional (then saying "there is no excuse" when you break them and get caught.)

Because the Vietnamese didn't romanise their language. The French did.

There have been suggestions to evolve the way vietnamese is written. For example, "Y" and "I" are the same sound, and could be changed to just "I" to simplify. However "Thuy" is a common girl's name whereas "thui" is "smelly". There is resistance to change everything to "I" because it would change the name to something embarrassing.

I used to live in Vietnam for several years. Both my dad and my brother have names starting with "J", which isn't quite around, so in all ID cards their names started with "I".

They tried to reflect the actual letters used in the original script, and differentiation between them. Same reason the Thai place Phuket had a silent h after the P - romanisation of ภ to differentiate from พ, ผ, ป, and บ, albeit the last two are pb.

It wasn't the Vietnamese who did it. It was the French.

Back in grad school there was a guy named Fuk Yun.

He should rename his profile to, "the Notorious PDB."

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