Which Name Combo Looks and Sounds Better

I'm having a baby girl that will be due soon. Her dad is Vietnamese so I am picking a Vietnamese middle name and an Anglicized first name for her. 

I really like the name Tien and was even thinking about choosing Tien as her first name. However, since it is not an Anglicized name, my mother told me she was afraid that my daughter would encounter some discrimination when she applies for jobs in the future. 

I thinking of naming her either Tracy Tien Tran or Tien Tracy Tran? What do you think? I would love to hear opinions and suggestions.


Thank you!



August 2, 2015 6:55 AM

My association with Tien is as a short form of the French masculine name Étienne, which is in turn a form of Stephen. The sequence "tien" also occurs in other French versions of common English names, like Sebastien (m) and Tatienne (f), as well as in the English feminine virtue-name Patience.

I'm not really a fan of the double-alliteration of Tracy Tran: it's certainly memorable, but it's borderline comical. Also, Tracy is unisex (and rather dated: I had both boy and girl Tracy/Tracey classmates), so combined with an unfamiliar name like Tien, the gender is ambiguous. Some people like and want that, but it is a trend that I dislike, personally. Any interest in Teresa instead?

August 2, 2015 2:20 PM

That was very intersting to read. Thank you for your opinion. I will consider that. 

As for Teresa, that's a lovely name but there's already a Theresa in the family lol

August 2, 2015 8:11 AM

I would defintely agree with saying that Tracy is dated. I mostly associated with woman over 40 (never met a child by tha name). Is there some reason for your choice of Tracy? Is it an honor name?

I do however like the idea of Tien as a middle name, it could also be a nickname for another longer first name, such as Tatiana or Ettiena. Having the three T's is also a bit much (although some people love it), as it is quite a harsh sound. You could have A middle and last name with a T, or middle and last name, but altogether it's a bit of a mouthful.

Other names I would sugest to you would be Tiana, Etta, Darcy, Trina, Sonya, Alisa and Richelle

August 2, 2015 2:22 PM

Not really, I just prefer the TTT pattern as it means something to me. And finding names starting with a T is not easy.

So would you think that having an Anglicized first name and Tien as the middle name would be better for her?

Thank you for the suggestions!

August 2, 2015 11:57 AM

Tracy Tien Tran is too much alliteration for my taste.  Kristen or Christine or Christina with a nickname or middle name of Tien might work well for you. 

I don't think Tien as a first name would be hard for school teachers.  I don't know about future employers. 

August 2, 2015 2:23 PM

I see. That's something to consider. Thank you! 

August 2, 2015 12:11 PM

I tend to like alliteration in names. It's memorable, and reminds me of a female hero in a comic strip or the main character in a novel. 

I think  that if you like Tien as a first name, and you can imagine her growing into that name and using it on a daily basis, you should use it. 

The concerns about discrimination are valid to consider, but on the flip side,  I think unique names sometimes set people apart in a good way.  If, when she gets older, wants a more Anglicized name, she can always use her middle name on an applicaiton or go by that name at work. 



August 2, 2015 2:26 PM

That's a valid point. I was sort of thinking of the same thing. So would you think that having a foreign first name and Anglicized middle name should be fine?

August 2, 2015 12:25 PM

I think Tien as a first name is great. It's pretty, and not hard to say or spell. Your mother is correct that your daughter will someday encounter discrimination, but that's going to be true based on her last name and her appearance regardless of her first name. Having a western middle name would give her options, too--she could be T. Tracy Tran on resumes if she really felt it made a difference.

If you wanted an Anglicization of Tien, the nickname Tiena (Tienna) would fit right in with the Tiana/Sienna set. I know most folks think of "nicknames" as being shorter than the given name, but they can be longer, especially when you're starting with a short name, like a Sue who goes by Susie. You could use a middle name that starts with A to get there, Tien Amelia, Tien Annabelle, etc. Only drawback there would be initials TAT, but I don't think that's a deal-breaker. You could also just use the nickname, regardless of middle initial.

I do like the sound of Tien Tran better than Tracy Tran; the double Tra- start I think tips the name over from pleasing alliteration to comic book character territory.

August 2, 2015 2:30 PM

I also think that Tien Tran sounds pleasing to the ear as well (at least to my ears lol) So do you think that Tien shouldn't be fine as a first name? Do you think it may sounnd too foreign?

I'm aware of the alliteration but the TTT pattern means something to me.

You're right I think I should coming with another name starting with a T other than Tracy.

Thank you for your opinion!

August 2, 2015 3:41 PM

I think Tien is fine.

I'm hapa Japanese (half Japanese, half White), and know lots of folks who are some percentage Asian, with all different combos of names. My own pattern is western fn, Japanese mn, Japanese ln. Growing up in a predominantly non-Asian community I had a friend who was also hapa Japanese with the opposite pattern: Japanese fn, western mn, western ln; I don't believe that our experiences with discrimination were really any different based on our names, but I do remember that her brother, who had all-western names, wished he had a Japanese name somewhere in the mix.

Asian names that are tricky to pronounce based on the spelling can definitely cause difficulties (Nguyen-Anh comes to mind as frequently stymiing folks), but a name like Tien isn't generally a problem. One of my kids has an easy-for-English-speakers Asian first name, the other two both have western firsts and Asian middles. My brother's kids (who are 3/4 Asian, as their mom is Chinese American, and who live in L.A.) are split, one has a Japanese first name and the other a top-50 western name. They're all young yet, but so far haven't run into any name-based difficulties (the Welsh and French fns actually run into more pronunciation confusion). I expect by the time a baby born this year is sending out resumes it will be even less of an issue.

As for Tien itself, I think if not for your last name most folks wouldn't even realize that it's Vietnamese--it looks like it could be in the Ian/Kian/Cheyenne/Deanne pattern of naming. I don't think it's necessary, but you could "westernize" it and make it more clearly feminine by spelling it Tienne.

For another T name that would break up the alliteration a bit, you could look at some Th- names. Thea/Theia, Theodora, Thalia, Thisbe, Thetis, Thora would all be pretty in the middle slot with Tien or vice versa. If there's one that might represent your own heritage, that might be a plus, too. They're not all as familiar as Tracy, but I think that actually makes the overall name read more Asian American rather than Asian--in my experience, very familiar, maybe slightly "older" reading names like Tracy or Theresa are more typically chosen by first gen folks (or that are imposed on them) in picking a western name.

August 2, 2015 4:43 PM

I agree with everything nedibes has said, particularly the last bit: Tracy reads first generation Asian American anglicizing her name to me, while something like Thea reads more mixed heritage.

I really like Tien and think you should go for it in the first name slot. As we've established on another thread, she can always put her middle name on her resume.

August 3, 2015 12:13 AM

You're right, I didn't think of the option of putting her middle name in place of the first name on her resume before. I agree that nedibes presented some solid points. 
Thank you for sharing! 

August 3, 2015 12:19 AM

That was very informative! 

It's good to know that someone like your friend's brother wished to embrace their own heritage that much. I guess not trying to hide your own ethnic background is nowadays considered "cooler" than what my mother thought. Perhaps I and my mother were just overthinking the matter. 

Breaking the T alliteration is indeed something to consider. Would you think that Thea sounds more modern than or as old as Tracy?

 Thank you for sharing!

August 3, 2015 4:47 AM

Definitely, Thea looks and sounds more modern. The only trouble with it, is it has 4 correct pronounciations. Depending on how you would pronounce it there are other different spelling that are more pronounciation intuitive

August 2, 2015 12:30 PM

Tien is nice, and I'd pick that over Tracy for a first name if not for the alliteration. My name was alliterated until I got married, and I disliked it intensely. Three Ts in a row is a bit much for me. I'd vote for 'Something that doesn't start with a T' Tien Tran.

August 2, 2015 2:33 PM

Thank you for your suggestion! I understand there are too many T's lol but this pattern has a special meaning. I also like Tien but I'm just afraid it would bring her some disavantages in the future since it may sound too foreign. 

And yes, I think I should pick another name instead of Tracy lol

August 2, 2015 3:35 PM

If you're looking for other t suggestions in the middle slot,  I'd recommend something a bit longer as Tien and Tran are each one syllable.  

Theodora might be nice because it has a different first sound than Tien Tran,  and there are a few different nickname options (Thea, Dora) 

Trinity,  Tabitha,  Tallulah,  or Talia


And I do think a forigen first name is fine

August 3, 2015 12:47 AM

Thank you for the name suggestions! :) I'm having a hard time finding one so this helps a lot. 

August 2, 2015 3:58 PM

Tracy Tien Tran and Tien Tracy Tran are both challenging tongue twisters for me. 3 hard Ts in a row have "machine gun" quality to say. And the short versions as Tracy Tran is too alliterative for my taste, and Tien Tran is very rhymey.

Since TTT is important to you, how about using a TH name to soften it up a ilttle? You could use Thandie, Thessaly, Theodora, Thea, or Thelma. My favorite for you, though, is Thora Tien Tran. An advantage of Thora is that it's really easy to spell and pronounce, but it's not super popular. 

August 2, 2015 7:42 PM

I second the Th idea, but I'd suggest a more common Th name as Tien and Tran are both uncommon.  It might be nice to have one common name in the mix for variety.  So my favorite is Thea or Theodora. 

Other possibilities: Teresa, Tanya, Tessa,

I think Tien Tessa Tran sounds particularly nice. 

August 2, 2015 10:39 PM

Interesting. I'm very familiar with both Tien and Tran. Perhaps thats a regional thing?

August 3, 2015 12:25 AM

I've never heard of Tien or Tran, so I guess it is a regional thing. 

August 3, 2015 12:15 AM

Tien Tessa Tran sounds quite lovely :)
Wouldn't you think Thea sounds like it would be in the same time as Tracy? 

August 3, 2015 12:30 AM

Thea has had continuous usage for as long as we have data (1880s), and it looks like it is just beginning to rise.  Tessa has been rising steadily for a few decades.  It might continue to rise further or it might taper off.  Tracy, on the other hand, is a typical trend name peaking at the 1970s. Tracy at its peak orders of magnitude more popular than either Tessa or Thea, which adds to the dated feel of Tracy. 


August 3, 2015 12:49 AM

I love the link, weatherly! I didn't know of this function of wolframalpha beside math, ehem.

August 3, 2015 12:22 PM

One of the characters on the CW show Arrow is named Thea. That network is a naming hitmaker, so I wouldn't be surprised if the character gives the name a little bump, bringing it into more prominence. The character pronounces her name Thee-uh.

August 3, 2015 12:27 AM

I love the suggestions on Th-sounding names! I had a really difficult time looking for names starting with a T lol

As for your question, as far as I know, Tran is a fairly popular Viet last name just after Nguyen (if you meet a Viet person, 50% of the time, the person is a Nguyen lol). I don't know about Tien but I just love the sound of it.

August 5, 2015 1:02 PM

I could not get on board with either of the Tracy combos, so I am very excited to see you are branching out to Th- names! 

Thea is absolutely beautiful with Tran, and I am (personally) a huge fan of the very unusual name Thisbe, which I think sounds amazing with the last name: Thisbe Tran will most likely not get lost in the crowd :-) Thisbe Tien Tran sounds so lovely to me.

I also like Tilda Tran, Theda Tran, Twyla Tran, or Thora Tran. They all would sound fine with Tien as a middle, I think.

August 6, 2015 3:38 PM

Thank you for giving me more suggestions on Th names! Before, I was considering the name Tessa but wanted to alter the spelling into Thessa. Do you think that would be unusual?

August 2, 2015 9:30 PM

If you like Tien, I don't see why you shouldn't use it as a first name.  The last name is Vietnamese, so it seems to me that the type of person who would discriminate when hiring would do so based on her last name, regardless of the first.  If you give her an anglicized middle name, she could always fall back on that for resume purproses if she decides it could be an issue-somthing like T. Tracy Tran for example.  

Honestly, I'm not crazy about all the T's in either Tracy Tien Tran or Tien Tracy Tran. Tracy Tran is especially difficult for me because it doesn't just repeat the T, the repeated TRA is the majority of the name.  For something similiar, perhaps Tien Stacy Tran or Stacy Tien Tran?

August 3, 2015 12:42 AM

Thank you for the suggestion! It's good to know that my daughter will have different options on how she would like to present her name in the future. I agree that Tracy Tran is not the best name combo.

August 3, 2015 5:33 AM

I'm gonna defend the name Tracy Tran!  I think it's full of personality, and very pretty.  And if the TTT thing has meaning for you, go for it.  Nobody ever uses middle names for anything but identification really, so embrace whatever is meaningful about it to you.

I think Tien works well in English - easy to spell and remember even if the name is unfamiliar.

I'm a white American who was born in Southest Asia and has been in and out of the region my whole life, so I totally get where you're coming from in my own way.  And I have an Indonesian middle name!  The knack is finding names from both heritages that 'work' in the other language and Tien certainly does that.  If you're still shopping around for name ideas, you might want to ask around re: are there any Vietnamese names that sound very much like English ones?  I don't speak Vietnamese, but Cambodia has traditional names identical or very similar to a number of Anglo names (e.g. Lina, Sophie, Polly, Terry, Anita, Ross, Sam).  Those double-whammy names can be great if you like them.  Also the names that lend themselves to a nickname in the other language - like Tienna or Tatienne / Tien.  In another example, I have an American friend who married a Japanese woman, named the boy Kaisei (Japanese name) but Kai is an Anglo nickname.  Perfect.  I also know some couples who chose names from each of their own countries, but had similar or same meanings.  Like one friend with a Chinese partner who both liked to travel named their boy Miles in English, and a Chinese name that meant traveler or something - sorry, but I'm blanking on what the Chinese name actually is.

Other T names, hmmm.  Tessa would be my personal fave.  What about Tamarind?  Beautiful, unusual, and definitely evocative of Southeast Asia.  Tilly would be on-trend in a granny-chic way.




August 4, 2015 12:52 AM

Thank you for sharing, cm2530! I really appreciate it! I just wasn't sure if Tien would set her apart from the crowd (in a negative way). But you made me feel better by saying it wouldn't be one of those names. I'm guessing you're living in Indonesia but you seem to have a broad knowdlege of different cultures as well which is reallu nice. 

Tessa is a lovely name but I think I'm going to alter the spelling to Thessa as the others suggested to break the T alliteration. What do you think?

August 6, 2015 7:54 PM

Thessa is a non-traditional name, which could defeat the purpose of having a standard English middle name. 

August 7, 2015 1:27 AM

Are you thinking you would spell it Thessa, but still pronounce it like Tessa? If so, I don't think it helps with the alliteration issue, and would prefer the usual spelling.

If you want to pronounce it with the Th- as in thought, perhaps you would like Thessaly? It's a Greek placename that sees occasional use as a given name, so it would be more familiar than Thessa on its own. I also like the rhythm of the longer name with two-syllable Tien.

Otherwise, I really like Thea, Thalia, or Thora for you, as familiar but not dated options.

By Fly
August 3, 2015 9:50 AM

Tien reminds me of the feminine name Tiarne (tee-AH-nee), and my first expectation would be an feminine Angliscised Asian name, though I'm not good at picking Asian languages based on English approximations (give me Asian characters and I'd have a better chance).

Like Jules, I'm from Australia, where Tracy is a feminine name date stamped in the 35-55 age group. on another thread we went into some pretty heavy discussion about Tracy, though, which is evidently unisex-leaning-male in the U.S., and not so age group specific.

I also second the Th- name idea, though I've never heard Thea as anything other than TEE-ah or TAY-ah, not a "TH" sound (behind the name says different, and I know it's short for thee-ah names, but I know a few Theas and none of them have a 'Th').

Here is a list of feminine T- names that use a "Th" sound (remove the spaces)

http://www. behindthename. com/names/gender/feminine/letter/t/pattern/th*

August 4, 2015 12:55 AM

Thank you for the link :) I have looked over it already. It's hard to pick a T name from these websites as I have never heard of most of them and I try to look for a rather common name. Tien and Tran are already uncommon enough lol

By mk
August 3, 2015 2:11 PM

Anyone who plans to discriminate is going to do so no matter what name you choose, since the last name is Asian. and I really believe this is going to be less of an issue in the future. I have friends who go by their Angelicized name, those who refuse to do so (and find the it insulting), and those who choose depending on who they are dealing with. So I would choose the first name based on what you want to call her on a day to day basis.  Either way she'll have options.

I think both sound fine.


August 3, 2015 4:34 PM

Sorry to say, but racists are gonna be racist either way. If not due to her first name, then due to her last name, or due to her appearance when she shows up in person. It would suck to work for a discriminatory office or manager, so she should count that as a bullet dodged.

So that's kind of a pessimistic way to say: pick the name you like!

But my 2 cents is that Tracy Tran sounds like a superhero's secret identity. :D

August 6, 2015 3:38 PM

That's true.