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Author Topic: Spanish and Latino Surnames  (Read 3876 times) Average Rating: 0
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ytterbiumanalyst
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« on: September 30, 2007, 05:39:00 PM »

It was said on another thread:
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Actually I kind of like the old Spanish custom of taking the last name of both parents. I'm not sure how this functions with a married woman, but in general the old practice seems very civilized
This is an interesting practice. In Spain and hispanohablante countries, each person has two surnames. The first surname is the father's and the second is the mother's. The paternal surnames are passed on to the children. For example, Jose Consuelo Gonzalez and Maria Diaz Jimenez have a son. They call him Esteban Consuelo Diaz. In general, the maternal surname is only a legal name. Colloquially, most people would refer to Jose as Sr. Consuelo. Women usually take their husband's name colloquially as well; Maria would be called Sra. Diaz de Consuelo or simply Sra. de Consuelo.

I do like this practice myself. It seems to be focused on familial relationships, which was a widespread source of the appellations of the ancient world.
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2007, 06:07:42 PM »

Is that the way it works?
I was under the impression the son above would be named Esteban Jose Consuelo y Diaz (or something similar). The rest looks right, though. In any case, I like the practice.
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2007, 06:09:59 PM »

I've been told by Spanish-speakers that the maiden name serves a similar role to "Jr" or "III" in English.  For instance, one can differentiate a father and son with the same name by their (presumably different) mother's maiden names.

I hope I have that right, at any rate.  I believe that this is actually a fairly recent development, within the last few centuries.  Perhaps as a result of that, in some Spanish-speaking countries (Argentina being one, I believe) the mother's maiden name is not generally used in this way.
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2007, 06:19:13 PM »

Is that the way it works?
I was under the impression the son above would be named Esteban Jose Consuelo y Diaz (or something similar). The rest looks right, though. In any case, I like the practice.
Where is Pedro when we need him?
Yes, the son (as well as both the parents) would have a middle name as well; I just didn't want to have to make one up. Also, in some countries you'll see an y between the surnames; in others you won't. Both are acceptable.

I've been told by Spanish-speakers that the maiden name serves a similar role to "Jr" or "III" in English.  For instance, one can differentiate a father and son with the same name by their (presumably different) mother's maiden names.
Makes sense. Jose Consuelo Diaz is the son of Jose Consuelo Gonzalez. Although I should say that there is no such thing as a "maiden" name in hispanohablante countries as women do not change their name when they get married.
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2007, 07:39:39 PM »

Reminds me of patronymics in Russian and Ukrainian: in Russian the son and daughter of Ivan Andreyevich Korolevsky are Piotr Ivanovich Korolevsky and Yulia Ivanovna Korolevskaya. The father's first name becomes an extra identifier.

Most of the time they're not Gospodin Korolevsky or Gospozha Korolevskaya. The real equivalent of Mr or Ms Last Name is the first name and patronymic: Piotr Ivanovich and Yulia Ivanovna. It sounds warm and familiar to us but shows just the right amount of respect in those languages. People who are close drop the patronymics (and switch from polite to familiar you just like Spanish) and even closer use nicknames, each with different shades of meaning: Vanya, Yulichka.

Getting back on topic Spanish and Italian have something similar: a person of higher rank including an older person, including of lower social class, usually isn't señor(a) Gonzalez but don (doña, donna) Alberto.

(The Godfather got it wrong: Marlon Brando's character should be don Vito not don Corleone.)

Also true of priests BTW: only religious-order priests such as friars (they resemble monastics) are padre Juan: diocesan/parish priests are don Alberto. (Like the Orthodox way of saying Fr First Name.)

(Just like many English Anglicans - and English Roman Catholics when they had to hide their church membership from the 1500s to the 1800s - calling their priests Mr Smith. The custom of calling all priests Father in English came from Ireland and spread in the 1800s.)
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2007, 08:26:29 PM »

Our family has always had the tradition of giving the mother's maiden name as the child's middle name and naming the child after the paternal grandmother or grandfather.
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« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2007, 02:37:43 PM »

Fogey,

Thanks for the great thoughts. Russian still doesn't make much sense to me, but I like getting to know some things about it. It's on my list of languages I'd like to learn someday (Arabic is next).
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« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2007, 03:28:09 PM »

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Most of the time they're not Gospodin Korolevsky or Gospozha Korolevskaya. The real equivalent of Mr or Ms Last Name is the first name and patronymic: Piotr Ivanovich and Yulia Ivanovna. It sounds warm and familiar to us but shows just the right amount of respect in those languages. People who are close drop the patronymics (and switch from polite to familiar you just like Spanish) and even closer use nicknames, each with different shades of meaning: Vanya, Yulichka.

The Russian otchestvo is rapidly loosing the social importance it once had.  Although it is amusing that even newer Russian textbooks printed in the US give the impression that Russians are calling each other товарищ (comrade) first name and patronymic.  Many Russian professors and linguists are predicting the patronymic will go the way of middle name: used on official forms, a few other formal situations and when you mother really wants to make a point. 

Other than my registration forms and visa, I never used a patronymic when I was in Russia.  For people with whom I used ты I used only the first name, and people with whom I used вы it was usually господин / госпожа (Mr / Ms ).

For example:

Мне приятно видеть вас ещё раз, господин Билр.
It is nice to see you (formal form) again, Mr. Beeler.
Ваш старый приятель,
Your (formal form) old friend,
Джони Уалкр Джунюр
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« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2007, 04:05:03 PM »

Reminds me of patronymics in Russian and Ukrainian: in Russian the son and daughter of Ivan Andreyevich Korolevsky are Piotr Ivanovich Korolevsky and Yulia Ivanovna Korolevskaya. The father's first name becomes an extra identifier.

Most of the time they're not Gospodin Korolevsky or Gospozha Korolevskaya. The real equivalent of Mr or Ms Last Name is the first name and patronymic: Piotr Ivanovich and Yulia Ivanovna. It sounds warm and familiar to us but shows just the right amount of respect in those languages. People who are close drop the patronymics (and switch from polite to familiar you just like Spanish) and even closer use nicknames, each with different shades of meaning: Vanya, Yulichka.


Excellent summary!

BTW, in both Russian and Ukrainian, using just the patronym in its abbreviated form is also a way of addressing a person or referencing to a person. For example, I can greet someone by saying, "Hi, Ivanych," or "Morning, Petrovna!" (Rus.; Petrivna in Ukrainian). Or I can say, "you know, Mikhailych told me that..." But it's very, very informal and borders with rudeness.

One very famous Ukrainian Orthodox, the Kozak leader of the late 16th- early 17-th century who greatly expanded the St. Michael fraternity in Ukraine, is known under what many think was his double surname, Petro Konashevych-Sahajdachny. In fact, Konashevych was his patronym. His father's name was Konan, or, less formally and more warmly, Konash.

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« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2007, 04:06:35 PM »

Although I should say that there is no such thing as a "maiden" name in hispanohablante countries as women do not change their name when they get married.

The custom of a woman changing her name to her husband's upon marriage is not all that ancient from my readings, nor is it universal as has been pointed out above and in other postings.  I have seen old gravestones in churchyards here on the East coast that say things like "Firstname Lastname"  wife of "Firstname DifferentLastname".  I've also seen the wife referred to as the "consort" which piqued my curiosity.  *Socially* a woman might have been called something like "Mistress Husband'sName" but her *real* name was the one she was given at birth with her family name.  I've been told that this was often the case in centuries past in Ireland.  Another example that some might have heard of is the case of "Martin Guerre" as in "The Return of.."  which is based on a real case in 16th century France.  His wife was not "Bertrande Guerre" but "Bertrande de Rols".

In Japan when a family didn't have any sons, the husband of a daughter would take her name to preserve it.  I would have to look up when the law was enacted that a woman had to take her husband's name in that country, but it is iirc also of fairly recent creation compared to the many centuries that we have of recorded Japanese history and literature in which people are known by their own names or sobriquets.

So trying to use this point as some kind of mark against women who don't change their names in the past 40 years or so seems to not be based on real historical cultural practices.  

Ebor
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« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2007, 04:17:11 PM »

I understand from my Russian textbooks that even back in Soviet times foreign visitors were Господин Фамилия - they're not expected to use patronymics.

Ebor is correct.

Hyphenated surnames are associated with the English upper class because that was done for a dynastic reason, when the wife's family were prominent.

It's also why, sometimes, the husband took the wife's name.

As happened to the Romanovs at one point to keep the line going IIRC.

In the 12 years I've worked in newspapers I've seen one wedding announcement in which the man did that. I forget what his name was - something perfectly good. He married Ms McKenzie and decided to be Mr McKenzie.
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2007, 04:17:43 PM »

Oh and I forgot to mention the Scandinavian/Norse naming which is still done in Iceland.  The women don't change their names on marriage either. People are "Firstname Father'sFirstNameSon or dottir".  So the names change from one generation to the next and the Icelandic phone book is by first name.

The president of Iceland from 1990 to 1996 was a woman named Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first elected woman president in history.

Ebor
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2007, 04:21:15 PM »

The president of Iceland from 1990 to 1996 was a woman named Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first elected woman president in history.
Interesting. The Irish did something similar for centuries. The Mac prefix we are all accustomed to was masculine only. Women by the same name would use the prefix Nic. So the daughter of Sean MacGuinness would be called Mary NicGuinness.
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2007, 04:27:25 PM »

Where is Pedro when we need him?

Right here!  Grin

ytt has it exactly right, though: now you have the luxury of TWO Spanish teachers on the forum...

I was under the impression the son above would be named Esteban Jose Consuelo y Diaz (or something similar). The rest looks right, though. In any case, I like the practice.

As ytt said, it's not common, though it is acceptable.  Used to be more prevalent, but has largely fallen out of use.

The custom actually sprang, fwiu, from Arabic contact with the Spanish in the 15th Century and preceding years.

And if you REALLY want a trip, throw the grandparents' names into the mix.  Again, an older custom used mostly in formal situations.

There was a comic strip (written by a Latino w/Latino characters) where the family goes to a funeral with a huge banner.  "What a great tribute," the teenage son says, "All those people on the banner in support of great-grandma."

"Those aren't friends' names," the father corrects him, "That's her name."
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2007, 04:36:43 PM »

Quote
I understand from my Russian textbooks that even back in Soviet times foreign visitors were Господин Фамилия - they're not expected to use patronymics.

Yes, because a Soviet citizen wouldn't call capitalists товарищ for much the same reason that prisoners in the gulags were not allowed to call people товарищ.  And then there is the Russian trait of loving foreign words, so upon hearing my last name many would even go so far as to call me Pan (the Polish form of Mr).  But, IME - the patronymic is waning in daily usage, even among Russians communicating to other Russians.  And among younger people I almost NEVER heard it.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of it in the next fifty years. 

And nice shapka in your avatar, but not as cool as this one:
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« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2007, 04:38:27 PM »

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So trying to use this point as some kind of mark against women who don't change their names in the past 40 years or so seems to not be based on real historical cultural practices

I think the issue is that you have to look at each case in proper context.  As has been mentioned, women don't (legally) change their names in most Spanish-speaking countries.  If I understand correctly, that's been the status quo there for many generations now, as defined by the culture and governmental situation.

Similarly, we can't retroactively impose current motives on past generations.  As Ebor notes, naming customs (and not only for women) have varied widely.  This is true even within small areas, like colonial America.  As an example, in some places, women have kept their maiden names throughout life at the insistence of their fathers, for reasons of personal prestige.  It had the practical effect that modern western feminists want, but of course, the motivation was a bit less egalitarian!

On the other hand, in places like America and Britain, the practice of a woman keeping her maiden name is generally associated with the modern feminist movement.  As I mentioned in another thread, the practice seems to have peaked along with the feminist movement in the 70s and 80s, and has been on the decline in recent years.  Using one's maiden name in America today is a statement, in a way that it may not have been in other times and in other cultures.  If people react negatively to it in America today, they are likely reacting to the perceived motivation more than anything else.
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« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2007, 05:05:14 PM »

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Using one's maiden name in America today is a statement, in a way that it may not have been in other times and in other cultures.

Not in all cases.  Like I mentioned before, I know of several women who plan on keeping their names because they are already published or established in their field under their maiden name.  It has nothing to do with making a statement.  In fact, one that I know in particular is about as far from a bra burning feminist as possible - a pro-life republican... so can you give up on the tired cliches?
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« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2007, 05:08:33 PM »

FWIW, my wife never changed her legal name when we married and I agreed with her reasoning. No hyphens, though. No real problems socially either.
When I call her "Mrs. Aristokles" instead of Ms. M_, she knows I want her attention...  Cheesy
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« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2007, 05:14:41 PM »

Not in all cases.  Like I mentioned before, I know of several women who plan on keeping their names because they are already published or established in their field under their maiden name.  It has nothing to do with making a statement.  In fact, one that I know in particular is about as far from a bra burning feminist as possible - a pro-life republican... so can you give up on the tired cliches?

And as I believe I mentioned before, individual situations are what they are.

My point was to do with the way we view practices in general in differing contexts, not with what the actual motives of individuals may be.
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« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2007, 06:12:43 PM »


In the 12 years I've worked in newspapers I've seen one wedding announcement in which the man did that. I forget what his name was - something perfectly good. He married Ms McKenzie and decided to be Mr McKenzie.

I knew a couple in Kyiv who had a "quadruple" last name. His (double) last name was Hudym-Levkovych, and her (double) last name was Lytvynenko-Polulyakh. When they married, they (just for the heck of it) decided to keep all names, and the approppriate line in their marriage license said, for both the husband and the wife, "the last name after marriage - Hudym-Levkovych-Lytvynenko-Polulyakh." Smiley Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2007, 06:21:31 PM »

I knew a couple in Kyiv who had a "quadruple" last name. His (double) last name was Hudym-Levkovych, and her (double) last name was Lytvynenko-Polulyakh. When they married, they (just for the heck of it) decided to keep all names, and the approppriate line in their marriage license said, for both the husband and the wife, "the last name after marriage - Hudym-Levkovych-Lytvynenko-Polulyakh." Smiley Smiley Smiley

How about adding names of grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on?  See how many lines of names the Ukrainian authorities will tolerate  Cheesy
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« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2007, 06:30:06 PM »

My wife didn't change her name simply because we were lazy. It's useful as a "do you know us" detector: someone who calls and uses the wrong last name got it off a list and doesn't know us.

A famous example of hyphenation is the Joliot-Curies -- Mom's name was considered important enough to continue.
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« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2007, 06:46:30 PM »

On the other hand, in places like America and Britain, the practice of a woman keeping her maiden name is generally associated with the modern feminist movement.  As I mentioned in another thread, the practice seems to have peaked along with the feminist movement in the 70s and 80s, and has been on the decline in recent years.  Using one's maiden name in America today is a statement, in a way that it may not have been in other times and in other cultures.  If people react negatively to it in America today, they are likely reacting to the perceived motivation more than anything else.

Then the problem could be with the other person's perceptions.  They could be attibuting what they consider to be bad motives to the person when they don't apply in the least. Then they might give the other person a label that shows their negative opinion or feelings.   Undecided

Here's a question to consider on this.  Since it has been shown that in many times and places women did not change their name when married, but then it became common practice in the US and other countries:

WHY did this happen? What lead to laws that women had to change their name upon marriage?

I would submi that this isn't something that God ordained nor an article of the Christian faith, but part of the history of human beings.

Ebor
  

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« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2007, 06:49:37 PM »

Interesting. The Irish did something similar for centuries. The Mac prefix we are all accustomed to was masculine only. Women by the same name would use the prefix Nic. So the daughter of Sean MacGuinness would be called Mary NicGuinness.

Indeed, this is the case and shows in the symbol of "Caitlín Ní Uallacháin" (Kathleen, daughter of Houlihan) as an embodyment of Irish nationalism.

Ebor
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« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2007, 06:54:22 PM »

Oh, and as an additional point, as I recall this subject was brought up in reference to Dr. Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, which one may recall is not a hyphenated name.

She *did* take her husband's last name when she married her husband: Richard Schori.

Sometimes one may make assumptions that are not, in fact, true.

Ebor
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« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2007, 07:09:15 PM »

Interesting. The Irish did something similar for centuries. The Mac prefix we are all accustomed to was masculine only. Women by the same name would use the prefix Nic. So the daughter of Sean MacGuinness would be called Mary NicGuinness.

That explains the name of the older Irish actress who played the shopkeeper in 'Ballykissangel', Aine Ni Mhuiri. Probably born during a rush of Irish nationalism and so Ann McMurray was translated into Irish. (Or she's from an Irish-speaking family.) Like the late RC primate of Ireland, Tomas Cardinal O Fiaich. Changed his name from Thomas Fee.
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« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2007, 10:07:52 PM »

Then the problem could be with the other person's perceptions.  They could be attibuting what they consider to be bad motives to the person when they don't apply in the least. Then they might give the other person a label that shows their negative opinion or feelings.   Undecided

This is true, and people should always be careful when ascribing motives.  An example:  I've read that Bill Clinton lost an election early in his political career in part because Hillary was going by "Ms. Rodham" rather than "Mrs. Clinton".  Many voters didn't take too well to that, and it may have cost Bill a significant number of votes.  On the other hand, I've heard it said that Hillary did intend to be "Mrs. Clinton" all along, but kept her maiden name until they could sort out their professional lives.  So maybe the voters were wrong in ascribing negative motives in that case (I suppose one's view of that will depend in large part on one's politics!)  In any event, she was "Mrs. Clinton" in time for Bill's next campaign  Wink


Quote
I would submi that this isn't something that God ordained nor an article of the Christian faith, but part of the history of human beings.

Certainly, we have to keep things in perspective.  What I was getting at earlier is that different cultures have many different ways of tying men and women (and their children) together through names.  The Spanish practice, the Russian patronymic tradition, the maiden/married name practice are all based on the same basic idea:  a customary way to link families together.  I actually think our culture's current practice is a good one which is worth preserving, but then, I'm a conservative by nature.  Smiley  Of course, the way we do things in America today is not the only way that it can be done.  Other cultures do the same sorts of things in different ways.  If there's anything "God ordained" about any of them, it's the unitary, family-binding principle itself.

(in case it isn't obvious from my examples and random asides, I did some research on naming customs in college.  I'll shut up about it eventually  Cheesy )
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« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2007, 09:26:44 AM »

That explains the name of the older Irish actress who played the shopkeeper in 'Ballykissangel', Aine Ni Mhuiri. Probably born during a rush of Irish nationalism and so Ann McMurray was translated into Irish. (Or she's from an Irish-speaking family.) Like the late RC primate of Ireland, Tomas Cardinal O Fiaich. Changed his name from Thomas Fee.

And then there's Martin Sheen, who took his stage name from the cardinal; his one son is Charlie Sheen, but his other son, Emilio Estevez, is in fact using the family name professionally.

One interesting variant has to do with authors using initials instead of a first name. P. D. James, in her memoir, writes about being asked whether she had chosen to use that sobriquy rather than her first name (Phyllis) in order to conceal her gender. (In fact, many reviewers of her first book were "deceived", though not all.) Her answer was that, no, she had simply written out the possibilities with an eye towards how they would appear on the dust jacket, and the initials seemed the most felicitous. She also commented that it made things go faster at book signings. On the other hand, Ursula K. Leguin was asked by Playboy once to use only her initials, prompting her later to suggest that "U.K." stood for "Ulysses Kingfisher". Of course the most notorious case was James Tiptree Jr., who elicited an idiotic remark by Robert Silverberg insisting that only a man could have written such works; in fact her real name was Alice Sheldon, and she was a fetching woman from a society family.
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