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did you know? names and surnames in Spain

did you know? names and surnames in Spain

Old Jan 28th, 2005, 02:53 AM
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did you know? names and surnames in Spain

I am a Spaniard and have just taken part in a forum discussing the cultural differences between Europe and the USA.

In Spain, all newborns get their (Christian) name,i.e., Juan, and then they get their fatherīs and their motherīs first surname. For instance, if my dad is Angel López Isusi and my mom is Beatriz Villate Almarza (imaginary names), I would be Mikel López Villate. There is the possibility of having my momīs surname first, and then I would be Mikel Villate López. The difference is that in the US nobody uses more than one surname, while in Spain common use is having both. Many Americans I deal with take erroneusly my second surname as my first, which is considered as part of my Christian name.

Also, women never take their husbandīs names, my mom would never be Beatriz López, she always keeps her surname, and it REALLY puzzles me, how come that women in the US accept this "domination" and loss of name so easily?

In Portugal the motherīs surname comes always first.

One more point regarding names in Spain: Jesús is a very, very common name for a man over here, something very odd for many foreigners, they find it blasphemous...My uncle is called Jesús María, for instance, and María is part of many names of men in Spain. And many women are called Maria Jesús Surname Surname...

Last: Concepción, Anunciación, Milagros (Miracles), Pilar, Regla (womenīs period), Dolores (pains), Nieves (Snows), Rosario (Rosary), Asunción, Encarnación (incarnation, Purificación, Inmaculada (inmaculate), Inocencia,..., are just a small part of very common Spanish names for women, of an obvious religious origin (names of virginīs, here in Spain there must be over 3000 "different" virgins, and women used to take the name of the virgin for themselves).

This is probably very funny for Americans...
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 03:43 AM
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This holds true in all Latin America. I am Puertorican and yes, the US people always screwup my name. My passport (US) and my daughters have both of our surnames hyphenated. This way the fact that I am related to my daughter is obvious to anyone looking at the document. This seemed to be the only solution. I do not use my husbands last name since I refuse to use the traditional "de" preceeding his last name. He is Swiss and is still puzzled by the entire issue even as he agrees that it is the smarter way.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 04:44 AM
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Mikelg,

As you have so perfetcly put it, these are, in fact, "cultural differences."

Your determination that a woman's acceptance of her husband's surname in place of retaining her own constitutes "domination" is a PERCEPTION that not everyone would agree is valid.

In case you don't know, there is also a long-held "perception" by many Anglos that Hispanic men cannot stand the thought of any woman dominating them in any way whatsoever..so-called "machismo" etc.

Wrong?

Right?

See what happens when one uses emotionally-charged words to describe things?
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 04:56 AM
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My sister in Law is from China and she uses her last name as her first. Her real name would be someithg like Li shang WU but she would use Wu as her first name. I cannot figure out if all the familt does that how can you answer if all have the same name?? I cannot remember the explanation for that!

Mikelg and names in Ireland i.e. sainst names are commin but less so these days. Assumpta is one of them off the top of my head.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 05:27 AM
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Siobhan,

Asians (at least the Chinese and the Japanese as far as I know.) : Family name + given name (I don't say last name or first name here in order not to confuse)

Europeans : Given name + Family name

In the case of your SIL, there should not be confusion because they call each other by given name within the family.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 05:35 AM
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SiobhanP--in China and Korea, and other Asian countries, it is standard to show the family name first followed by given names. So Rufus T. Firefly would be always written or spoken as shown as Firefly, Rufus T if he was Chinese or Korean. (NOTE: Firefly and Rufus are not common Chinese or Korean names.)

So, in China, your sis-in-law's name would be shown as Wu Li Shang--family name first. Family comes before the individual.

Many Asians do use their family name as their first name when living in the west as the family name is often much easier to pronounce than the given name. Others adopt western names. Mrs. Fly does not do either, as she has one of the more common Korean family names and likes the name she was given by her parents.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 05:39 AM
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Many cultures use a patronymic system where your personal name is based on the name of one's father. For instance, Russia where Nikolaevich means son of Nikolai. The same is true for scandinavian countries (Johnsson etc).
In Wales, a man called Harry would name his son ap Harry (hence the shortened derivative Parry). This is where Williams (son of William), Davies (David or Dafydd), Jones (Sion or John) and Evans come from. Vaughan (or Vaughn) comes from the Welsh Fychan which means Small.
English names come from trades such as Cooper, Smith, Turner and Carpenter.
Can someone exaplin to me about Begum, Bibi etc?
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 06:44 AM
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Hi mike,

>This is probably very funny for Americans...<

By "funny" I take it that you mean "odd", not "provking laughter".

Among Jews, until Napolean required the use of family names" on was named after one's father, eg, Isaac ben (son of)Jacob or Sara bas (daughter of) Jacob.

I believe that in Iceland, this is still the case: Ingrid Sveindottir or Johann Haraldsson.

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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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From a genealogical standpoint, this issue has been a problem! We have a hard time figuring out lineages when the family name changes every generation. My great-grandmother was a Rees -- which, ultimately, came from Wales, where Rhys was the father, and the child was ap Rhys -- later anglicized to Rees (many Reece, Rice, and Reese families came to be the same way.)

As I understand it, this patronymic naming system was common in Welsh, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, and even Irish and Scottish families, some into the 19th or 20th centuries.

In Ireland, for instance, Brian Boru started the O'Brien clan.

Scotland: MacKenzie comes from Mac (son of) Kenneth (the Gaelic is Connagh, pronounced KON-nach).

I know many other European countries followed this in times past. If there were 3 John's in a village, one would be the one who worked the mill (Miller), one would be by the river (Rivers), another would simply be the son of Peter (Peterson), etc...

I love finding out surname origins, can you tell?
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 07:36 AM
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Same way in German. I was only able to trace ancestry back to the mid-1700's before it got very confusing do to changing names. When family names became required in Germany, many families just adopted a name from a nearby geological or architectual feature (i.e. hill, wall, etc.)

--Marv
PS: I agree that in the US, the tradition of a woman taking the husband's family name is NOT a dominance issue (usally) as I know some VERY strong women who took their husband's family name, and in fact, the woman is the dom figure in the family.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 07:46 AM
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I knew a girl from a Spanish/Jewish union. Her father always called her Cohen, after his family, but her mother preferred her Spanish Christian name, Carmen. Being called two different things by her parents confused her, though, and half the time she didn't know whether she was Carmen or Cohen.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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Kappa and Rufus, thanks for the explanation. Once again apologies for my APPALLING spelling. I type too fast! Anyone have that web spell checker .
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 07:58 AM
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The tradition in the US and other countries of a wife taking her husband's last name may not reflect current or individual household dominance, but it does reflect an historical male-oriented society. One traced one's lineage primarily through the father and then through the husband. There's no perfect solution either because if the man were to take the woman's name it becomes a female-dominance issue.
What I find particularly quaint is the traditional reference to a woman as 'Mrs John Smith' (still used in formal invitations and magazines like Town and Country)--complete loss of her womanly identity at least for the records.

I know many women who have retained the family names they were given at birth (usually their fathers') and yet mostly their children take their husbands' names.

With the hyphenated names in America, it is still confusing and I've never understood what the next generation does.
If Ms Smith-Jones marries Mr Brown-Green, what are their children called?
'Tis a puzzlement.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Interesting, I didn't know that Spanish women don't take their husbands' surnames upon marriage. We do something similar in the Philippines (probably because we used to be a Spanish colony), but most, if not all, women take their husbands' surname and their 'original' surname becomes their middle name/maiden name. So if Maria Lopez marries Juan Reyes, she will become Maria L. Reyes. And believe me, if you knew any of the women in my family, you would never think that they were submissive!

As for the children, all are given first names and an optional second name (which is NOT the middle name). The middle name is always the mother's maiden name, and the surname is obviously the father's. To illustrate: my niece's whole name is Maria Socorro Juana Garcia del Rosario (whew!), with her first name: Maria Socorro, second name: Juana, middle name (mom's maiden name): Garcia, surname: del Rosario.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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Well Rufus,

Asian cultures are not the only ones putting the family name in front of the given name. As a Hungarian, you would also be called Firefly Rufus T (not that these names are more widespread in Hungary than in Korea ), and so would you in many parts of Italy.

Icelanders still stick to a patronymic system: Björn's son Ivar is called Ivar Björnsson, and his son Olaf is Olaf Ivarsson. Björn's daughter Ingrid calls herself Ingrid Björnsdottir, doesn't change her name when marrying Erik Haraldsson and gives birth to Gudrun Eriksdottir.

Sounds complicated? You bet! But imagine, if it were as I wish: sons take their father's name with -son, and daughters their mother's name with -dottir added ;-)
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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Robespierre....groan !

AR you asked about 'Begum' and 'Bibi'.
Begum is of Arabic origin and is usually used as a female title of high honour, akin to 'Queen' or 'Princess' or 'Lady'. I've seen the Aga Kahn's wife's name is pre-fixed by the word Begum. A colleague tells me that it also used as a common girl's name, as one may call their daughter 'Queenie'.

There are many origins for the word
'Bibi' from different cultures, but I know that in swahili, the word means 'wife'.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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bibi also means grandmother, miss and woman.
Bibi (capital B) means Mrs.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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The Icelandic system of surnames, as Mathieu mentions, is a version of the patronymic system that stems from Viking times, when people kept track of each other by noting who the father was.

Women don't take their husband's surname in Iceland when they marry because then it would mess everything up!

The Aga Kahn's wife (soon to be ex) does have the honorific title "Begum" before her name.
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 11:29 AM
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Correction: Aga Khan-slight difference!
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Old Jan 28th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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There was a very funny bit of inadvertant humor on 60 Minutes a few years back, when Morley Safer asked an Icelander to explain the naming system to him, because he couldn't keep it all straight:

"Well, it's really quite simple. My name is Jan and my father's name was Peter Johansson, so I am Jan Petersson. And so if I had a boy named Harald, his name would be Harald Petersson...no, I mean Harald Jansson..."

Too funny!
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