Readers and students of Vietnam's history must build a familarity with special language -- terms in the Vietnamese language, other terms, slang, and abbreviations. Books and documents, even novels and other forms of literature rooted in the Vietnam Wars, contain special terms and language. The following Glossary only begins to illustrate a voculabulary all students will build on their own and by which they will communicate with each other about readings and the history of the Vietnamese Experience. Students are expected to contribute other entries for this Glossary as our study continues.



dan cong - porters or transporters, many of whom were women who carried supplies

dau tranh - literally, "struggle," the key concept of People's War

Indochina - coined by the French for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

"long-haired army" - women fighters, first against the French, later against Americans
Used mostly to identify southern women within the National Liberation Front; Duiker, however, uses the term for women warriors in the north as well as the south.

punji stakes - the primary weapons prepared and used by women warriors; bamboo crafted into sharp poles and used in booby traps within covered traps

"Southeast Asia" - term in use since World War II. Formerly Kun Lun or Nan Yang, Little China to Chinese. Today the modern states of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, the Phillippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia




ARVN  Army of the Republic of Vietnam 
COSVN Central Office of South Vietnam (1961+) 
DRV Democratic Republic of Vietnam (official Name) (see NVN) 
GVN Government of Vietnam -- popular designation used by U.S. (see RVN) 
MAAG Military Assistance and Advisory Group
MACV Military Assistance Command, Vietnam
NLF National LIberation Front or National Front for Liberation, Dec. 1960+ (see VC and PRG) 
NVA North Vietnam Army -- U.S. designation for PAVN 
NVN North Vietnam -- popular designation used by U.S. (see DRV) 
PAVN People's Army of Vietnam; army of the DRV (see NVA) 
PLAF People's Liberation Armed Forces; army of the NLF/VC/PRG 
PRG Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, 1969-75
RVN Republic of Vietnam (official name) (see SVN and GVN) 
SEATO Southeast Asia Treaty Organization 
SVN South Vietnam -- popular designation used by U.S. (see RVN) 
VC Viet Cong; contraction of Viet-nam Cong-san (Vietnamese Communist). U.S. and RVN term for National Liberation Front, PLAF, and PRG
Viet Minh Contraction of Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh (Vietnam Independence League) 





Return to Course Index Page