Nguyen Soon to Become Australia's Most Popular Last Name

Sydney, Australia.
Sydney, Australia.

The Vietnamese last name Nguyen may be on track to become the most popular in Australia in the next decade, researchers estimate, outpacing current winners Smith and Jones.

The Vietnamese surname is currently the 13th most popular in Australia but is gaining ground fast, wrote the News Limited Network. The name is the second most popular in Melbourne and the third most popular in Sydney, the island nation's most populous centers.

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"It is like a horse race: Smiths are cantering but Nguyens are screaming down the outside,'' said KPMG demographer Bernard Salt, according to News Limited Network.

"Nguyen will [overtake Smith] in Melbourne and Sydney within 10 years. It signals the difference between the city and the bush," he added.

This phenomenon is owed not just to the high volume of Australian residents and citizens with Vietnamese blood. It has much to do with the sheer pervasiveness of Nguyen, a last name used by nearly 40 percent of Vietnam's population, according to Vietnam's Tuoi Tre News.

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Australia's top three migrant groups are British, Indian and Chinese, but none claims a surname as widespread within their native lands as Nguyen.

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Tiny before the U.S.-Vietnam War, Australia's Vietnamese population exploded in the 1970s after U.S.-backed South Vietnam was captured by communist forces and waves of Vietnamese connected to the U.S. and its allies (which include Australia) fled in fear.

According to Australia's ABC news outlet, roughly 220,000 people living in Australia speak Vietnamese at home.

The Nguyen coalition is also making inroads in Australian politics: The Australian notes that three different people who carry the surname are running for the coalition in the lower house in September's elections, making it possible that Nguyen could be the most common name in Parliament.

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Nguyen, a Chinese-based family name used by a royal dynasty dating from around the 11th century, is estimated by some to be used by around 40 percent of the total population of Vietnam.

Nguyen may be a very popular name, but pronunciation lags behind: here's The Australian taking to the streets of Sydney to see how the average Aussie fares when attempting to pronounce the Vietnamese surname.