A Note on Diacritics
Because Vietnamese is a tonal language that is unpronounceable and mean-
ingless without diacritical marks, I have included them when they were
present in the original text. However, recognizing that nonspecialists may
find the diacritics difficult to manage, I have omitted them from terms that
are familiar to an English-speaking audience. Widely known toponyms (for
example, Vietnam, Hanoi, Haiphong, Hue, Saigon, and so forth) appear
without diacritical marks, as do proper names such as Ho Chi Minh, Ngo
Dinh Diem, and Vo Nguyen Giap. The major exception to this practice is
that proper names familiar to ethnologists, who may or may not be special-
ists in Vietnamese studies, are written as they normally appear in English.
Without doubt this solution is imperfect, but I am convinced that it is pref-
erable to the alternative of omitting the diacritics altogether or, worse yet,
using only those that occur in Western languages—the circumflex, for ex-
ample, and accent marks.
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