NAMES AROUND THE WORLD.

This is a nice roundup of answers to the question “How do people’s names differ around the world, and what are the implications of those differences on the design of forms, databases, ontologies, etc. for the Web?” Most of it is familiar to me (Icelanders have a given name followed by a patronymic, Chinese have the family name first and often a generational name in the middle, Spanish-speakers have two family names with the father’s first, etc.), but the material on Tamil and Rajasthani names was new to me, as was this:

In Thailand people have a nickname, that is usually not related to their actual name, and will generally use this name to address each other in non-formal situations. (They will also typically introduce themselves to Westerners with this name, since it is usually only one or two syllables and therefore easier to pronounce.) Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has the nickname Maew (แม้ว). Often they will have different nicknames for family and friends.

Thanks, Sven!

Comments

  1. Interesting. Gender suffixes of surnames aren’t a simple story. In Russian, great many family names don’t change at all between masculine and feminine, and some don’t change even in plural. In Ukrainian many more surnames change with gender, and in Czech, all of them do. In Lithuanian, there are two distinct feminine suffixes, one for wives, another for daughters.
    It was cool to know that in Thailand people can’t addressed by their first name; there are nicknames for that purpose, instead. I guess the familiar Russian system is something of that sort, too? Over the years, I’ve gradually got used to being called by my full first name; it would be totally weird back home in Russia.

  2. Historical usages present many peculiar problems as well.
    Many Mormon families dating from the 19th c. US often use the mother’s maiden name as the middle name for the son(s). This was a way of preserving family links across generations (as in the Spanish case), but I was told (I have not researched the question myself)that it was also a way of distinguishing family groups in polygamous marriages (which children ‘grouped’ with/ belonged to which mother, though they shared the same father, and thus surname, with many other children).
    – An effective way of keeping your children in order (at least nominally), if you have several dozen.

  3. In most of the English speaking world, people have one or more given names and one surname. People are usually addressed by one of their given names, selected by the preference of the person themselves. In the United States, however, exactly two given names are required, and you must be addressed by the first of these.
    Almost all government and other forms (banks, etc.) follow this pattern, and no deviation is allowed.

  4. Two given names are not required, though they are the most common case.

  5. michael farris says:

    Yeah, I was about to say there’s no legal requirement for a middle name in the US at any rate.
    Two family names are accepted if they’re hyphenated and then treated as a single unit.
    Going slant wise on the topic, name signs in ASL and in Polish Sign Language (PJM) operate very differently.
    ASL name signs almost always (I write ‘almost’ but I’ve never seen a counter example) use the handshape of the person’s first name from the American finger alphabet so my name sign in ASL used the M handshape. Name signs might be taken from a quality of the person or some particular incident (a perpetually late student with the name Dennis might have a name sign made like the sign ‘late’ but with the D handshape.
    In PJM name signs are either more purely gestural (a woman I knew’s name sign came from the ponytale she had as a teen). Also calques (usually based on the last name) are common so that Bialecki might have the name sign ‘white’ (biały) (this is very much avoided in ASL). There are also some traditional signs for some first names (though a person with that first name might not use that as a name sign).
    Also, name signs are far less standardized in PJM and less tied to identity so that the same person might use different name signs with different social sets and several people in the same area might have the same name sign (again avoided in ASL) Some people didn’t have their own name signs but took those of family membes. the husband of the ponytail woman also used the same name sign as his wife (sometimes with the addition ‘man’ or ‘spouse’).

  6. michael farris says:

    Also getting back to Thai personal names, the order is given name – family name but within Thailand the family name is not so important and titles can only be used with the given name so that you would address the former prime minister as Mister Thaksin.

  7. “People are usually addressed by one of their given names”. Really? What about all the Toms, Dicks and Harrys, Jacks, Bills and Sandys? Moreover, in my father’s time people were often addressed by a diminutive based on their surnames though that seems to have died out in Britain except anong footballers (Giggsy, etc).

  8. “Mister Thaksin” …like the British convention of using the first name with the title Sir – Sir Edward (Robinson). The French often make the mistake of calling such a person “Sir Robinson”. But Lord takes the surname – Lord Robinson, but IIRC a minor takes Lord Peter, and it is also an informal usage, e.e.g [typo, I've decided it means a heartfelt example] in the Dorothy Sayers stories of Lord Peter Wimsey.

  9. People are usually addressed by one of their given names, selected by the preference of the person themselves. In the United States, however, exactly two given names are required, and you must be addressed by the first of these.
    Is this true? Is it true that a ‘William James Smith’ can only be called William or Bill, and never James?

  10. mollymooly says:

    The John Q. Public format is not uncommon in Ireland, especially if your first and last name are common. But the variant J. Quincy Public strikes me as very American. GB Shaw, George Bernard Shaw, Bernard Shaw all OK; G Bernard Shaw not OK.
    Lots of American forms do specify first name — middle initial — last name. People with no middle initial are John NMI Public in police procedurals; does NMI fit in the single-character form space? Does J. Quincy Public become John Q. Public or Quincy J. Public? And John R. Tolkien?

  11. In the United States, however, exactly two given names are required, and you must be addressed by the first of these.
    Unless the law has changed this is not true. My daughter was born in New York, has three first names and I call her Albert, which is none of them.
    As Dearie well knows, Sandys is a surname pronounced “sands”.
    And as I always say at times like this, in some European countries )Norway & Germany being two( parents are obliged to choose from a list of state-approved first names. This protects the child from being called Adolf or Carburetor, but I think it’s an equally absurd meddling in something that doesn’t concern the state.

  12. Certainly many Americans feel free to use their middle names rather than their first names.
    My grandfather disliked his first name (Walter) and therefore let himself be known by his middle name (Gehret) all his life.
    Similarly my wife’s brother decided circa age 20 that he would rather be called by his middle name, but never insisted on it within the family–with the result that many of his relatives still call him one thing but are very accustomed to hearing him called the other and even going along with calling him the other.
    My mother never liked her middle name, and was happy to more or less drop it when marriage gave her a fourth name. I believe that the same is true of my wife’s mother.
    My parents gave me a middle name, but did not give my sisters middle names on the grounds that they would probably marry some day and get a third name that way. In fact, one of them took her husband’s name and rarely uses her original family name as a middle name, while the other married but did not change her name.
    My daughter has five names because when we adopted her (as a young infant, from Guatemala) we (3) wanted to keep one of the four names that already had, (4,5) gave her our two family names, (1) had a lovely unusual name picked out for everyday use,and (2) had a middle name ready, too, that we really liked and that went nicely with the latter. Not that all five get used every day!

  13. Is this true?
    No.
    I think it’s an equally absurd meddling in something that doesn’t concern the state.
    Hear, hear!

  14. In Argentina is like in Norway or Germany. You cannot name your child with a non-aproved name. Now things are more relaxed (?).
    One of my duties where I work at university is to answer information requests about the etimology and origin of some names (which are not listed) that the parents want to use for their child . We don’t have to decide, just inform.
    It may not be politically correct from me to say this: but some people’s taste is terrible… Last week I had to answer a request from a mother who would like to name her boy “Eddy” (con esa grafía). This is no a case of bad taste, but stupidity. Why don’t you name him Eduardo and call him Ed, Eddy or whatever you want! Sometimes parents want to control everything about their child even before they were born!

  15. “Jonny” is a first name used a lot in Norway, pronounced “Yonny”. “Odd” is another common name (I think originally it was a shortening of Odmund), and hyphenated first names are very common. So despite the regulations against naming your son Fishface or Strange-Willy – something that probably wouldn’t even happen – there are still all these Odd-Jonnys. There’s a middle-of-the-road politician called Odd-Roger Enoksen; I find it hard not to think of him as some kind of extremist.

  16. I looked him up in Wikipedia because I hadn’t heard much in a while and I see that Odd Roger has left politics. Now he’s the boss of something called Andøya Rocket Range, where it says:

    In 1995, a rocket from Andøya caused high alert in Russia. They thought it might be a nuclear missile launched from a submarine. President Boris Yeltsin was alerted for a possible counter strike, when the Russians understood that it was not heading towards Russia. There were press photos all over the world of Yeltsin with the launch command briefcase. The Russians were informed in advance about the launch, but this information was lost in the Russian military organisation.
    So you can imagine if this happened today: “Excuse me Mr President, there’s a rocket heading our way. There’s a guy on the phone claiming responsibility, he wants us to call him ‘Odd Roger’.”

  17. When my mother-in-law was expecting her second child – my sister-in-law – she wanted to name her Wendy. My father-in-law said; “If that’s the case, why not Thur’dy, Fri’dy or Sat’dy?” She is Susan.

  18. dearieme gives the name Jack in his list of dimunutives. Not many know that Jack is used in some English families as the diminutive of John (never Johnny). My given name is John, but I’ve never been called that. My father was named William Bruce by Scottish custom, yet called Bruce. Does anyone know if the use of the second name is also part of the Scottish custom?

  19. @maidhc: It’s certainly not the case that names are so standardized in America, though government agencies and corporations generally seem to operate on that assumption. As someone who always uses my (his?) middle name, which has a less than usual spelling, while my real first name is a diminutive, I have periodic difficulties with such entities.
    J.R.R. Tolkien is always “John Tolkien” in France–like Edgar Poe, I suppose.

  20. mollymooly says:

    Hans Christian Andersen is “H. C. Andersen” in Denmark. J.K. Rowling is “Joanne K. Rowling” in Germany.

  21. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    As you’re here, Julia, maybe you can tell me about Argentinian surnames. About 20 years ago I met an older Argentinian couple, both professors at the University of Buenos Aires, and I was quite surprised to learn that the wife used her husband’s surname, without even a “de” in front of it, thus using the system that applies throughout most of the English-speaking world. They told me that that was quite standard in Argentina, though it would be unheard of in Chile, where the conversation was taking place. Did I misunderstand, or is it the case that in Argentina women adopt their husband’s name on marriage? Do people still maintain their maternal surnames as well as the paternal (as in Chile and Spain, and, I suspect, in most Spanish-speaking countries)?
    When we were first in France our bank had great difficulty accepting that my wife and I were married even though we have different surnames, and for a while they insisted on having just my name in our cheque books.

  22. Athel – I understand from my mother, who is Colombian, that traditionally, a woman would take her husband’s name, without “de”; however, the wife of a cousin of mine does not. That may be a generational difference, or it may be a matter of personal choice.

  23. English apparently doesn’t have a simple noun (expression) to designate the name you use. It has to be circumlocuted with a verb: “the name you use”, as people have been writing above. German has such a word: Rufname = call(-by) name. This could lead to misunderstandings when furriners use it, though: “what is your call-boy name” ?
    I have the same full name as my father, who used his first name Ralph. In protest at any association with him, I use my middle name Stuart when calling myself names. Germans treat “St” as a single letter when abbreviating names (I believe it’s a collating convention for lists), so my abbreviated name is “St. Clayton”. This annoys me, despite the suggestion of gentry and sainthood.

  24. To me St. Clayton suggests a Hollywood actress named Jill, a composite of Jill St. John and Jill Clayburgh.

  25. rootlesscosmo says:

    Not many know that Jack is used in some English families as the diminutive of John (never Johnny).
    @lakon: “There is no music in the name of Jack. It produces no vibrations. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John, and I pity any woman who is married to a man called John!”
    –Gwendolen Fairfax, in “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1895
    (I, for the record, am named John.)

  26. empty: then it’s a good thing I am ignorant of Hollywood actresses, otherwise I would have that much more to be annoyed about. I rarely know or can memorize even the names of actors. I remember only roles and good looks.
    But then movies provide stories, after all, not dating services. I will never understand why young girls want to have a baby implanted in them by Robert Pattinson. Do they think that he has nothing more interesting to do in his free time ?

  27. Kári Tulinius says:

    It’s not quite that cut and dry in Iceland. About 5% have family last names along with patronyms. My full name is Kári Torfason Tulinius, Torfason being the patronym and Tulinius the family name. People with family names usually go by first name and family name, like I do.

  28. I rarely know or can memorize even the names of actors.
    Me, too. Well, the names may stick in my mind even I don’t have a face or a name to hang them on.
    I couldn’t tell you much about Jill Clayburgh except that she played a mathematician in an otherwise forgettable movie called It’s My Turn. Nor could I pick her out of a lineup.

  29. Germans treat “St” as a single letter when abbreviating names (I believe it’s a collating convention for lists)
    I don’t know if that’s the reason, but Norwegians do it with “Bj” for Bjørn. In other words, someone in Norway would sign his name “Bj. Larsen” where we would write “B. Larsen”.

  30. I would just like to mention that hurricane Irene is headed for LH. By the time it gets there it will no doubt be downgraded to a tropical storm, but there will be much wind and rain.

  31. Jill Clayburgh died recently, I read her obituary in the NY Times. She had leukemia for twenty years, that’s why no one remembers her now, but she was quite a big star in the late seventies (An Unmarried Woman).

  32. A hurricane that heads for Language Hat gets downgraded to a tropical storm? Is this the weatherperson’s rule of thumb?

  33. Trond Engen says:

    A hurricane heading for Language Hat gets downgraded to a storm?
    A worrisome wedding of this and that, a wetherman’s worldly norm.

  34. Yes, we here at Casa Hat are taking all precautions, laying in a supply of water, raising the cats’ litter box onto a platform in case the cellar floods, and eating BLTs for lunch today just in case the power goes out overnight and we’re unable to cook our traditional Sunday breakfast bacon and eggs tomorrow morning. Thanks for your concern!

  35. As an example in Filipino, a teenage girl would call her older brother “kuya”. She would also tend to call her older male cousin “kuya”. The term “kuya” is actually likely to applied to any older male who is within her generation and should be treated with respect, perhaps even the very close friends of her brother. “Kuya” and “Ate” are also titles used to address older male and female cousins (regardless if they are the eldest or not, but older than cousin addressing them) as a sign of respect.

  36. I actually agree with maidhc:
    > In the United States, however, exactly two given names are required, and you must be addressed by the first of these.
    > Almost all government and other forms (banks, etc.) follow this pattern, and no deviation is allowed.
    Quite true.
    There are exceptions, of course — I myself am an American without a middle name (due to being an Israeli immigrant) — but the pattern that maidhc describes is so universal as to be universally assumed (I’ve often been asked “what’s your middle name?”, for example, but never “how many middle names do you have?”, let alone “do you have any middle name(s)?”; and when the answer is that I don’t have one, the reaction is usually open surprise).
    Some commenters seem to think that “required” means “required by law”, but I see no evidence that that’s what was meant.

  37. The worst legal complication with non-tripartite names in America is because the TSA requires the names of the airline passengers to be spelled exactly as in their id papers, but the online forms of the travel agencies allow only one first name, and only one surname. Spaces and most non-alphabetical symbols are not allowed, and usually, internal capitalization isn’t either. I’m not exactly sure how the owners of unusual names handle it.
    Also btw, many Icelanders have tripartite names (surname in addition to given name + patronymic). Descendants of immigrants (most frequently Danish) use this system, and I don’t think that they can shed the extra “foreigner tag” sort of a name.
    Of course Bill instead of William is a no no per TSA, too.
    Speaking of internal capitalization inside first names … is it common anywhere outside of the Mormon community?

  38. My name in full is John Woldemar Cowan. I am named after both my grandfathers, though this is not particularly a custom in either of my families. I have always rejected being called anything but John when I had anything to say about it, although my parents had an unrelated pet name for me.
    Paul: Lord may be used with either a given name or a surname. Lord Peter is so called because his title is a courtesy one; he is the younger brother of a duke. Correspondingly, his wife’s title is Lady Peter. His brother Gerald Christian Wimsey would have been Lord Wimsey if he were merely a baron, but in full his titles are the Duke of Denver, Earl Denver, Viscount St.-George, and Baron Wimsey. (He is not a marquess, presumably because his ancestors were enduked in 1485, well before the current precedence rules were firmed up.) His son Jerry (aka Pickled Gherkins) carried the courtesy title Viscount St.-George, that being the next highest distinctively named title after his father’s.
    Denver was the 16th Duke, as his family has held onto the peerage with incredible tenacity: indeed, he is junior only to the Duke of Norfolk, who was also the 16th at the time. (In both cases, there have been re-creations of the title, but always in the same family, so by special exception they are numbered consecutively rather than as “the nth duke of the kth creation” as usual) The present occupant is presumably His Grace Bredon Delagardie Peter Wimsey, the 18th Duke of Denver. I like to think that he was one of the hereditary peers elected to the House of Lords in 1999, and still vigorous even at age 75.

  39. Certainly many Americans feel free to use their middle names rather than their first names.
    Mitt Romney’s first name is Willard.
    Rick Perry’s first name is James.

  40. Athel, can I answer your question in Spanish? It would take a lot of time to do it in English (badly)
    No, no es común aquí en Argentina que las mujeres usen el apellido de su marido sin el “de”. Salvo a veces en el colegio de los hijos, donde una termina muchas veces siendo conocida por el apellido de la familia. De todas formas ya casi ninguna mujer (al menos en mi círculo de conocidos) usa el apellido de su marido con “de” luego del suyo propio. En mi caso por ejemplo Julia D’Onofrio de Landro (puaj). Mi madre jamás usó el apellido de mi padre ni siquiera en los bancos, donde algunas veces les hacían problemas o les costaba entenderlo. Toda su vida profesional (es abogada) lo hizo usando su propio apellido. En términos formales, quiero decir la forma en que la gente es registrada en los documentos, es muy extraño que se inscriban ahora las mujeres con el apellido de soltera y de casada.
    Sin duda es algo que me molestó siempre que las mujeres “debieran” anteponer un “de” posesivo al apellido de sus maridos. No tendría ningún problema si la costumbre fuera recíproca y los maridos usaran también el apellido de sus mujeres.
    Perdón por no usar la lengua internacional, es tarde y la neurona casi no funciona.
    Espero que todo esté bien en la Casa Hat.

  41. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    OK, thanks Julia — that makes a lot of sense. The people I met 20 years ago were (I think) immigrants from Eastern Europe, probably refugees from the Nazis, so their practices probably reflected their origins more than usual Argentinian practice.
    I’ve never really thought of the “de” as meaning “belonging to” (which is of course offensive), more as being short for “wife of”.
    I can’t speak for everyone here, but it’s no problem for me if you write in Spanish. That’s what I do with many of my correspondents in Chile and Spain — they write to me in Spanish and I write to them in English. It makes it easy for both sides.

  42. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Lord Peter is so called because his title is a courtesy one; he is the younger brother of a duke.
    One might add that if Gerald had been a Baron rather than a Duke, Peter would not have been Lord Peter Wimsey, but just the Hon. Peter Wimsey. I think in that case you could drop the “Peter” and just call him the Hon. Mr. Wimsey, whereas in the real case you can’t call him Lord Wimsey.

  43. John, Athel: Many thanks. I can never remember those things but I’m delighted when someone reminds me how it works. Baffles the furriners … and in this case, the Australian.

  44. I once had to do some research at a house in Essex owned by someone called Lord Petre, pronounced like the first name. It always reminded me of Wimsey.

  45. By the way, anyone who thinks they know what angels look like on the outside of a Jesuit church would do well to look at Julia’s current blog post.

  46. In Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, set in Botswana, Precious Ramotswe’s beau is invariably referred to as
    “Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni”. The web site Hat links to doesn’t seem to have anything about African names and customs.
    I wonder if J.L.B. stands for anything, or is it like Harry Truman’s middle name being the letter S?

  47. mollymooly says:

    Speaking of internal capitalization inside first names … is it common anywhere outside of the Mormon community?
    African American names often have a Frenchified initial particle with no space: LeBron James, DaMarcus Beasley, etc.

  48. Thanks Athel, that’s a good arrangement.
    You’re right the “de” means “wife of” but why men never use it? It is possessive.
    Thanks AJP for recommending my pictures. I just happen to add at the end the other one I’ve sent you. I have to ask an specialist in Jesuit art if these are originals. The second one looks like a female (without wings, so “she’s” not an angel)!

  49. Well, so far so good at Casa Hat; we still have power and were able to have our usual Sunday breakfast (followed by hot, fresh coffee—I’d made some last night and left it in a thermos just in case). But the actual hurricane is still making its way north; so far all we’ve gotten is a lot of rain.

  50. McCall Smith, but not his works, has revealed that it is John Limpopo Basil.

  51. Over the past few weeks, the arte television channel has been running The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency dubbed into French and German. Tiresomely true to form, the German producers have trivialized the series title: Eine Detektivin für Botswana. The French title is L’agence No. 1 des Dames Detectives.
    I find that I have read 11 of McCall Smith’s novels over the past 3-4 years, since my sister put me onto The Sunday Philosophy Club. When I want light entertainment, I look first for something by McCall Smith or Amélie Nothomb. I used to do this with Fay Weldon, but her stuff doesn’t turn up any more in the bookstores I frequent.

  52. The dark side of the Guardian (2008):

    I really wanted to like The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (BBC1, Sunday), it being, as it turned out, Anthony Minghella’s final throw of the dice. But I failed miserably, as I once did with the book. I found Alexander McCall Smith’s novel – the first in an astonishingly successful series – twee, quaint, shallow, possibly patronising. And these qualities have now been successfully transferred to the screen.

    It’s Heartbeat, basically, relocated to Botswana, a beautiful African country where smiley happy people, cardboard cut-out characters, go about their business with good humour, hard work, morality and diligence. There are a few baddies, but they’re not that bad, and Precious Ramotswe (what were you thinking, Jill Scott?) sees them off. And Botswana goes back to being a place that could have come straight out of a promotional film by its tourist board.
    Everyone will love it, of course, especially the Americans, I imagine. There will probably be awards, too. But it has no passion, no depth, no edge, no nothing. And it’s such a pity, when there aren’t enough black people on British television, that so many should end up in this saccharine gloop. Sorry, enough said.

    Yes, sorry. All the black people wasted in something he doesn’t like. “Possibly patronising”, haha.
    We have it with subtitles.

  53. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Over the past few weeks, the arte television channel has been running The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency dubbed into French and German. Tiresomely true to form, the German producers have trivialized the series title: Eine Detektivin für Botswana. The French title is L’agence No. 1 des Dames Detectives.
    We’ve been watching these (in French: we couldn’t cope with German, but anyway it comes in French). Until then I’d heard of the series but never seen it. In the first instalment we weren’t too sure we wanted to continue, but once we got to know the characters we enjoyed it, and it made a great change from the standard detective film.

  54. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    (This should really have been my first comment, as it concerns the original article and not with the various comments on it, but I got distracted…)
    Although I found the article interesting I found it curiously unsystematic, considering its intended audience of “HTML content authors (using editors or scripting), script developers (PHP, JSP, etc.), schema developers (DTDs, XML Schema, RelaxNG, etc.), Web project managers,…”. Surely such people will need to know more often how to deal with Hungarian and Portuguese names more often than Icelandic? But these appear only as links under “Further information”. Although Portuguese names are mentioned as a half-hearted addendum to the paragraphs about Spanish names, the writer seems to have forgotten that Brazil isn’t the only place where people have Portuguese names. I once asked someone in Portugal why the order of surnames is usually the opposite from the Spanish order, and was told that it was a deliberate decision early in the 20th century “to show that they were not Spanish.”
    In other cases where the conventions appear at first sight to be the same there are subtle differences. In England when names are doubled (as in my own case — not doubled by me, which would be pretentious, but by my great-grandparents)) the feminine name comes first, but in France (as in “Giscard d’Estaing”) it comes second. Apparently this is second nature to everybody in both countries: in England I always get shortened to Mr Bowden, in France always to M. Cornish. Dominique Strauss-Kahn (whom some of you may have heard about recently) inherited the whole surname from his father, but his father was born Gilbert Strauss but added his mother’s name in the usual French order.

  55. …and Giscard added the d’Estaing himself. But I think we’ve been through that elsewhere.

  56. …no he didn’t. That was Maurice Couve de Murville (‘s father). Sorry, I’ll go away now.

  57. Athel: The point of the article is not to provide comprehensive solutions, but to indicate the breadth of the problem and drive it home with sufficient (but incomplete) examples.

  58. I recently entered the US from Canada, and the customs officer refused to let me enter the country until I could produce evidence of having two given names.

  59. The “St.” and “Bj.” reminded of similar abbreviations in English that used to be more common, such as “Wm.” for “William”, “Thos.” for “Thomas”, or “Chas.” for “Charles”.
    I always rather liked the slightly idiosyncratic way “Wm. Rolfe Kerr” ‘s name appeared on lists of LDS General Authorities; alas, it seems that now the more prosaic “W. Rolfe Kerr” is more commonly used.

  60. The “St.” and “Bj.” reminded me of similar abbreviations in English that used to be more common, such as “Wm.” for “William”, “Thos.” for “Thomas”, or “Chas.” for “Charles”.
    Another abbreviation that turns up frequently in 19th-century British census returns is “Jno.” for “John”. Why bother, for the sake of one letter, and — even more intriguingly — why put the letters in that order?

  61. Geo. for both George and Geoffrey is another, confusing one. My hypothesis is that they are deliberately spelt differently from well-known shortenings (Will, Tom, Jon, Geoff etc), so there is no implied invitation to call (eg) Thos. Cooke “Tom”.

  62. “Does anyone know if the use of the second name is also part of the Scottish custom?” As far as I know, it’s just a matter of personal (or family) choice. “Bruce” is one of those Scottish surnames that’s become a Christian name over time, probably because of common use of a mother’s maiden name as a child’s middle name. Thus Gordon, Stewart/Stuart, etc. Mind you, if you go back far enough some of those surnames will have started off as Christian names, and the Mc/Mac surnames are based on Christian names anyway, so it’s all a bit of a whirligig.
    An idiosyncracy of Scottish naming is that legally a woman retains her surname on marriage: she adopts her husband’s surname [if she chooses to] only by convention. Thus in legal matters you’ll see married women referred to by two surnames – e.g. Jeannie Jardine or Nicholson – with the first being her legal surname and the second being her husband’s, the one that she’s commonly known by – and which therefore ought to be mentioned – but which the legal system treats as not being really hers.

  63. dearie, I just saw an interesting Scottish name in an Alexander McCall Smith novel: Macfadzean. How is it pronounced, is it one of those Featherstonehaugh-type things and it’s “Fish” or “Slush”?

  64. mk-FAD-j’n.

  65. The z is properly a yogh, and yoghs before front vowels are /j/. Menzies and McKenzie are also yoghs, though some bearers use /z/ now.

  66. Kári Tulinius says:

    MOCKBA: Also btw, many Icelanders have tripartite names (surname in addition to given name + patronymic). Descendants of immigrants (most frequently Danish) use this system, and I don’t think that they can shed the extra “foreigner tag” sort of a name.
    Some family names are of foreign origin, such as my own (my great-great-great-grandfather was Danish), but many people have family names that are of strictly Icelandic origin, usually but not always adopted by people who spent a part of their life abroad. That is not always the case though, some people just decided to adopt family names..
    Incidentally, in 1925 (or thereabouts) names were standardized by law in Iceland and all informal last names were declared to be not part of a person’s legal name, such as people who were generally named for the farm they were from, which became the basis of legal last names in many other cultures.

  67. Thanks, Kari! In Russia it was almost exactly the other way. The abolition of serfdom in 1860s required the freed subjects to take surnames in addition to patronymics, and they often came from the former street names. Or sometimes people stubbornly refused to take surnames and were assigned family names such us “Unknown”!
    But in the tradition where the patronymic was the rule, the “last name” of three often followed the father’s nickname or the father’s patronymic (dedichestvo, very reminiscent of the Arab tradition and even recently common among Russia’s Muslims, but historically also widespread among the neighbors of the Muslims, like the Russians of Volga Basin or the Georgians of the Caucasus). I couldn’t figure out if there is a proper English equivalents of скользящее дедичество (shifting father’s patronymic) which looks very much like a surname but shifts from generation to generation.
    But as I searched, Wikipedia helpfully explained that matronymics exist too, most commonly in some islanders of Indonesia.

  68. Thanks, John. I didn’t know about the yogh. When I saw the name Funzie Girt it made me think of Fotheringay-Phipps – is that also a name that’s missing its yogh? I can’t see where it might have gone, though. Actually, I think Fotheringay-Phipps has been thoroughly discussed already, somewhere.

  69. @Athel, Julia:

    You’re right the “de” means “wife of” but why men never use it? It is possessive.

    Things used to be more complicated. Widows, for example, were formerly referred to as Firstname Lastname viuda de [i.e., widow of] Husband’s Lastname. Examples abound, curiously, in the history of the Spanish publishing houses. Manuela Contera, viuda de Ibarra, run one of the most important presses in 18th century Madrid.
    As to why women, but not men, took up their spouses’ surnames, it is quite obviously linked to property and legal personhood being largely limited to males. Even in the late 19th century, when Dalmacio Vélez Sarsfield penned the Argentine civil code, married women lacked the right to own and dispose of property, custody rights on their own children, or even the right to work without their husband’s authorisation. They passed from being wards of their parents to being wards of their husbands, with little chance of doing anything else.
    As a side note, Argentine law 18’248 forbids the use of more than three personal names; names not in Spanish or a native tongue, unless it’s the same as that of one of the parents; or those that are extravagant, insulting or ambiguous as to the person’s gender.
    Strictly speaking, there is no list of pre-approved names or even clear criteria, which tends to leave one at the mercy of the civil servant on duty. The parents of a friend of mine were forced to call her ‘Jazmín María’ instead of plain ‘Jazmín’, because the registry officer objected to their using a grammatically masculine word for a female person. On the other hand, my own name was accepted on the (false) claim that it’s Biblical. (The Bible mentions plenty of אלוןים, but only as a common noun, meaning ‘oak’.)

  70. Yes, Alon, of course I know the historic reasons of all this. But knowing it or why it happens doesn’t make me more at ease with its preservation nowadays. So I’m happy this is changing.
    You know, in fact there is a list of pre-aproved names (different lists actually). Perhaps if your friend sent a ply to our “Facultad de Filosofía y Letras” we would have told the register officer that this one is a common female name. The same thing happened to us with our daughter Trinidad. It is registered as a name that doesn’t express gender (in the Caribbean, for example it’s a masculine name, as well as Rosario). We were ready to begging the ¿trámite? (I don’t know how to translate this concept) In fact, I was going to write the answer that my superior signs, as always… But when my husband went to the office of the ¿Registro Civil? there was such a mess, that the officer in a hurry said: “¿Quieren ponerle sólo Trinidad? MMM no se puede en realidad…” That was the answer my husband was expecting to begin the ply for information at my faculty. But then the officer added: “Bueno, como el juez está llegando tarde y nos deja con este lío… yo te lo autorizo, que él firme y se jorobe!”

  71. dearieme: mk-FAD-j’n
    Is that the “A” sound as in hat, or as in Fey Dunaway ?
    My mother’s folks are McFatridge. Do they have those up your way ?

  72. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    “Bueno, como el juez está llegando tarde y nos deja con este lío… yo te lo autorizo,
    Another question for you Julia, this time a more linguistic one, though drifting away from the topic of names. It seems likely from the context that the officer in the Civil Registry was not someone your husband knew beforehand, but he addressed him as “te”. Is that usual?

  73. Funzie is indeed properly Funȝie; if you can’t see the yogh there, it looks something like a 3, or like a handwritten z in a round hand. Since a front vowel (namely i) follows, the ȝ is pronounced y, hence Finn-ye.
    Here’s a list of Scottish words with z for ȝ.

  74. Athel, yes it’s not strange at all. It’s usual specially among people of the same age use “tuteo” or “voseo” as we actually use here.
    A veces yo me veo en problemas con esto de la edad: me encuentro con una señora mayor y no sé si la voy a ofender por señalrla como más vieja si le hablo de “usted” o si la voy a ofender por falta de respeto al tratarla de “vos”

  75. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Julia, I know the feeling well, not so much in Spanish, where I call everyone I know “tu” and everyone I don’t know “usted”, but in French it’s a big problem, as I don’t always remember which people I know as “tu” and which I know as “vous”, or, more generally, which is appropriate for which person.
    Has “usted” pretty much disappeared in Argentina and Uruguay? If you still use it, which sort of people get called “usted”? I imagine you still have “ustedes” as the (effective) plural of “tu”?

  76. Julia: me encuentro con una señora mayor y no sé si la voy a ofender por señalarla como más vieja si le hablo de “usted”
    Siempre habrá gente que se muestra ofendida por alguna cosa u otra. Las señoras mayores intentan en vano negar que se han vueltas viejas. Deben profitar del respeto de los otros, que en gran parte compensa las arrugas.

  77. Yes, the “usted” has not disappeared at all. I call many people “usted”, for instance the woman who work at my home cleaning who is older than me, and I feel I should talk her with respect; the professor who is the director of the Institute where I work, sometimes older people in an public office… It is not rigorous at all. And not as complicated as in French, of course! Nothing really happens if you call anyone “tu/vos”. In fact the youngsters call almost everyone “vos”.
    Stu, suelo tener muy buena relación con las señoras mayores, salvo quizás con las que son muy (pardon my French)”hincha pelotas”, como seré yo tal vez en unos años…

  78. In fact the youngsters call almost everyone “vos”.
    That’s what I remember from my time in Argentina (when I was a youngster myself); if I went back, that’s what I’d do (except with very aged and respectable persons), and just cross my fingers that I wasn’t offending anyone. I love the voseo.

  79. The problem I have with vos is not the word itself, but all the new verb forms that go with it! I can understand what they mean (when I read Mafalda, for example) but I don’t know them (I don’t know the ones that go with vosotros either).

  80. Hat: nobody will be offended. And we love when foreign people speak our language! Are you comming soon? It would be great to organize a “re”union here!
    Athel: don’t worry, we also love ” el tuteo” as when Spanish people or other Latin Americans use it. I also get confused using “vosotros”: those verbs terminations are a mess!

  81. michael farris says:

    As I recall endings for vos are different in different countries where it’s used, sometimes it’s similar to vosotros forms or it’s the same as tu forms (making the difference perceptible on when overt pronouns are used). Also, sometimes vos only has special forms in some tenses (using tu forms the rest of the time)
    IIRC the general rule in Argentina is they’re like vosotros forms without the i unless that’s the only vowel. But I don’t recall if that’s in all tenses or just some…
    Since the vosotros forms were in the first Spanish learning materials I had I went ahead and learned them and it was a good thing I did.
    Also, isn’t Argentina an s-dropping country? I had a teacher once who’d spent time there and claimed the particular way Argentinians drop their s’s is different from what you find in the Caribean (or Spain for that matter).

  82. Also, isn’t Argentina an s-dropping country?
    Not when I was there.

  83. “Is that the “A” sound as in hat, or as in Fey Dunaway?” There’re two “a”s in Dunaway. Anyway, I think the answer may be “hat”, but then I think of American pronunciations that sound to me like hyaat, and I wonder. And my dear mother’s “hat” sounded like “het”. But then she might have said mkFEDj’n.

  84. Robert Mrtvola says:

    My father likes to tell a story about mail call in the U.S. Army during World War II. The sergeant who handed out the mail would read out recipients’ names without middle initials as, for example, “John NO-MIDDLE-INITIAL Smith,” while infusing as much contempt into his voice as he possibly could.
    With regard to treating initial St or Bj as a single letter, I would mention that Czech considers the digraph ch to be the equivalent of a single letter to such an extent that it is alphabetized separately (following h). The digraph cannot be broken even in vertically printed signs, such as this one.

  85. >Athel Cornish-Bowden
    My parents were born in two villages of Spain where they speak a language (or dialect) that use “vos” instead of “usted”, like in French “vous”, that is, with the 2nd person plural. E.g.: “Vos tendis dus falas” (you have two languages). Usually we use that only for elder people, and we also have, obviously, “el tuteo”.
    (I’m sorry for my English).

  86. Your English is fine, and I didn’t realize they used the voseo in Spain as well; thanks for the comment!

  87. “vos” instead of “usted”, like in French “vous”
    Is there an etymological connection between “vos” and “vous” ?! That had never occurred to me.

  88. “Also, isn’t Argentina an s-dropping country?”
    Not when I was there.

    Hat, perhaps you have only been to Buenos Aires… In many other places of Argentina s-dropping is very common. I know nothing about linguistics (and my language ear is not good at all) so I cannot tell you how this works or how it differ from the Caribean or Spain

  89. Oh, yes Grumbly, vos and vous came all from the same origin.
    Here you have an article of Rafael Lapesa (a bit old but with his textbook I studied “Historia de la Lengua” many many years ago.
    And here an article of wikipedia about “Español Rioplatense”

  90. Thank you!
    That language, that us called “fala”, has an origin unknown although it seems likely it’s from the kingdom “astur-leonés” and/or Galicia. These people repopulated our land after the Reconquest so they gave us a kind of ancient Spanish or medieval Gallician. The villages are in the Midwest of Spain, in the north of Extremadura, near to Portugal and Salamanca.
    As far as I know the connection with the “vous” is only because the Latin, like the “vos” in ancient Spanish. Also, lots of words have preserved the initial “f” Latin that have changed to “h” in Spanish; e.g.: “folla/hoja” (leaf), “falar/hablar” (to speak).
    I attach a file in Spanish about that:
    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fala_(valle_de_J%C3%A1lama)
    If you want some information you can ask me.

  91. Kári Tulinius says:

    MOCKBA: But as I searched, Wikipedia helpfully explained that matronymics exist too, most commonly in some islanders of Indonesia.
    And in Iceland. They’re not common, but not so rare that you never come across it. There’s been something of a revival in recent years, where couples decide to give their child a matronym and a patronym or a mixed parentonym. For example, say that Hákon and Una have a daughter they name Lísa. In the standard system she would be named Lísa Hákonardóttir. But Hákon and Una want both of their names attached to their daughter. They can name her Lilja Unudóttir Hákonardóttir (or vice versa), Lilja Unu- og Hákonardóttir or even Lilja Unu- Hákonardóttir (that last one being the rarest form). The matronym for a while was a specifically feminist statement, but has now become normalized, though patronyms are still the norm.

  92. Regarding classroom instruction: I hope this isn’t too far off-topic…
    I’d read that schoolteachers used to teach the following about religion: They would tell the kids to close their eyes and pray to God for candy. When they opened their eyes there wouldn’t be any.
    Then they prayed to The State for candy, and the teacher would put candy on each desk…
    I’m sure some kids peeked and saw the teacher handing out the candy. Or they prayed for money, or ice cream, and learned that The State either doesn’t listen or doesn’t care…
    I don’t know if that story is true? Would that have contributed to the cynicism and so on?
    I don’t know if they had ice cream in the Soviet Union? What was it like?

  93. You had an anecdote about Soviet schoolgirls under
    “Everything was forever”, so I felt free to comment on it–but I posted it here by mistake. I’m sorry for the oversight. I wonder if you feel like moving the post to the other topic?

  94. Stu: not only are French VOUS and Spanish VOS related (despite no longer having a single phoneme in common: /vu/ versus /bos/), going back to Latin VOS, but in Old Spanish VOS was identical in meaning to French VOUS, serving both as a second person plural pronoun and as a second person singular polite pronoun (In Latin VOS only had the first meaning). What changed in Spanish was the rise of the new polite pronoun USTED(ES), used with third person forms: TU and VOS, and their associated endings, were subsequently reshuffled in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world (see the Lapesa article Julia gave a link to for further details). The use of plural VOS in the Fala language is thus probably a conservative feature, incidentally.
    It’s an interesting reminder that languages aren’t monoliths: while phonologically Modern French has changed far more than Modern Spanish has, its second person pronoun + associated verb endings system is much more conservative than the Modern Spanish one.

  95. ‘Also, isn’t Argentina an s-dropping country? I had a teacher once who’d spent time there and claimed the particular way Argentinians drop their s’s is different from what you find in the Caribean (or Spain for that matter).’

    Your teacher’s right. Here’s the best footballer in the world, who still has a strong Argentinian accent despite years in Barcelona (dropped Ss marked with bold, strikethrough is eaten in preview):

    «No, ni me cansa, ni … no es lo mismo, no es lo mismo, lo que, se habla, se diga, es, no sé por qué salen ni por qué se dicen todas estas cosas, nosotros que tenemos que saber et que queda muy poquito para que termine todo y tenemos que tentar de seguir manteniendo este nivel»

    And someone mucho más culto, Marcos Mundstock, where it’s less evident but still there:

    «También han pasado a la historia otras sinfonías de Mastropiero con apelativos más familiares, como por ejemplo, la Sinfonía Improvisada, la Imperfecta, el Mamarracho y la Asquerosa.»

    I’ve no particular opinion on whether the way they (you, I suppose, Julia and Hat ☺) is different to the Caribbean and southern Spain; I can’t hear the difference, but then I’ve never lived anywhere where being really comfortable with the loss of syllable-final /s/ is necessary.

    Slightly relatedly, here’s a paper on the realisation of syllable-final /s/ in western Andalusia and speakers’ perception of the difference.

  96. “On whether the way they drop syllable-final /s/”, I beg your pardon. And I notice that an “et” is astray in transcribing Messi, oops.

  97. I certainly defer to Julia and Aidan; it’s been decades since I was in Argentina (and yes, almost entirely in BA), so I shouldn’t even have commented on the subject. But any excuse for Messi to make an appearance is a good one!

  98. ¿Ves, Hat? Tenés que volver a la Argentina pronto para hacer más trabajo de campo actualizado. Yo hasta tengo rusos aquí para ofrecerte y todo…
    Entre otras cosas, podrías viajar a Rosario, que está preciosa y conocer dónde nació Messi y jugó sus primeros partidos. Además de empaparte de tonadas santafesinas y comer parrillada de pescados frente al Paraná. ¡Imperdible!

  99. ¡Oh, con qué cantidad de spam se te ha llenado esto!
    Yo venía a dejarte un link con fotos que sacamos en Rosario (Messi’s home-town)
    Aquí

  100. Anyone know where a name like Mundstock comes from?

  101. It appear that you could look it up.
    Google “X name” and in many cases you get a chance to buy a book called “The X Name in History”.

  102. ¡Gracias por las fotos, Julia!

  103. I look it up, but don’t get no answer.

  104. The X Name in History – dunno what the current crop contains, but when my anthropologist granny bought one out of curiosity some 15 years ago, it contained a bit of generic genealogy advice, as well as excerpts from Ellis Island books and from some XIX c. state death registrar. Kind of like what search scrapers publish online today, with no human editorial thought added. And the searches didn’t turn up anything relevant of course, not even to make it into a coffee table book for a totally unrelated modern family.
    Modern Icelandic matronymics – very interesting examples, thanks! There was limited use of matronymics in Russia in late Stalin’s era and it probably tainted the concept forever; in today’s polls most respondents are aghast about it. Basically matronymics were given to fatherless children at the time, to shame the single mothers and to leave their children with a stain of illegitimacy for their all adult life.

  105. >Aidan Kehoe
    Here in Badajoz (next to Western Andalusia), where I’m living, we also pronounce the final “s” exactly the same. It’s difficult for me to pronounce the final “s” of the 3rd person in English.

  106. De nada, Hat! Venite!
    AJP, I always thought Marcos Mundstock had German origins… But I’ not sure.

  107. I’M
    I’MMM

  108. Julia: Yes. Since “mouth” is mund in German (munn in Norwegian), that’s probably right. It must mean “mouthpiece”, like on the tip of a trumpet.

  109. That’s funny Crown, because Marcos Mundstock is kind of the “mouth piece” in “Les Luthiers”. He’s the presenter (“locutor”) of the group. He has a wonderful voice.

  110. I’ve been wondering whether it’s a made-up name. A big coincidence, otherwise. “Marcus Mouthpiece” would be a great name in English for a fictional character.

  111. Marcos Mundstock is said to have invented one of the group’s instruments: the gom-horn or gum-horn, a trumpet made of a funnel, a hose, and a trumpet’s mouthpiece. But it seems likely that he already had his name before he did so.

  112. A friend of mine made a boghorn from a Mundstück, a hosepipe and a disconnected Toilettenschüssel. He plays it, though not every day. As it happens he’s half-Austrian.

  113. Ha!
    No, that’s for sure he’s real name.
    The “Les Luthiers” invented a lot of very special instruments

  114. he’s NO, NO, NO
    “his” YES, YES, YES

  115. David Marjanović says:

    “Middle name is what you’re called” strikes me as an American practice. “L. Ron Hubbard” strikes me as “I have another name in front of ‘Ronald’, but it’s so embarrassing I’ll never tell you what it is; I just insist of reminding you that it’s there all the time.”
    There are, however, exceptions. Clinton Richard Dawkins is British. My grandmother was originally planned to be called Eveline Doris, then her mother Theresia died during her birth, and she ended up called Theresia Eveline; yet she has, at least to friends and relatives from the same generation, been going by “Evi” (with [f]) all her life.
    My mother and her 5 siblings all have two first names. The second ones are never used; my mom’s is not even in her passport, and she regularly forgets those of some of her siblings – “regularly” meaning “once every 5 or 10 or 15 years, when the issue happens to randomly come up in conversation”. In the last year of secondary school, I found out that most of my classmates had 3 or 2 given names (3 is the legal maximum; there’s no legal maximum in Germany).
    Very few Austrians or Germans use middle initials. A few use two given names at every occasions; the director of the Albertina (an art museum thingy in Vienna) is Klaus Albrecht Schröder, never “Klaus” or “Klaus A.”.
    In the 1970s, hyphenated first names were extremely common in Germany; such names (most stereotypically Kai-Uwe) are considered single names, not two. Sometimes, two names are graphically fully fused; compare Hansjörg to the Italian Giancarlo and Giampaolo.
    The use of surnames (or place names or the like) as given names still strikes me as utterly alien. It’s very much an Anglo-American thing. And didn’t Rowan Atkinson once rhetorically ask Elton John if he was too stupid to sort his name right? (My sister makes further fun of him by saying “John Sir Elton”.)

    And as I always say at times like this, in some European countries )Norway & Germany being two( parents are obliged to choose from a list of state-approved first names. This protects the child from being called Adolf or Carburetor, but I think it’s an equally absurd meddling in something that doesn’t concern the state.

    Well, it drives the point home that children aren’t the private property of their parents – parents can’t simply do to their children whatever they want. And yes, the idea is to prevent a childhood full of ridicule.
    Incidentally, I don’t think Adolf is actually outlawed; and Germany is less strict than Austria – German registrars have let a lot of mind-bogglingly horrible names pass (while, idiosyncratically, refusing to accept similarly horrible or worse proposals).

    Not many know that Jack is used in some English families as the diminutive of John (never Johnny).

    Dr. h. c. John “Jack” R. Horner is from Montana.

    Germans treat “St” as a single letter when abbreviating names (I believe it’s a collating convention for lists)

    It’s a remnant from the times when it was a ligature and was treated as a single letter in almost all contexts (including vertical signs). Before the spelling reform of 1998, it wasn’t even allowed to separate syllables through st. Trenne nie st, denn es tut ihm weh!
    Unlike Czech ch, it was never given a place in the alphabet. But then, ä, ö, ü and ß still aren’t in it.

    Tiresomely true to form, the German producers have trivialized the series title

    HULK SMASH

    The “St.” and “Bj.” reminded of similar abbreviations in English that used to be more common, such as “Wm.” for “William”, “Thos.” for “Thomas”, or “Chas.” for “Charles”.

    Also formerly seen in German: “Jos.” and “Joh.” for Josef and Johann.
    Incidentally, nobody is named Josef anymore, and while Johannes is common, Johann is extinct, funnily enough.

  116. David Marjanović says:

    I forgot to mention the Texan custom of using two random isolated letters and two periods as legal given names. I cyber-know a D. C. Sessions who says that’s his entire meatspace name, and I don’t think L.J. Krumenacker has anything hiding behind those dots either.

    >Aidan Kehoe
    Here in Badajoz (next to Western Andalusia), where I’m living, we also pronounce the final “s” exactly the same. It’s difficult for me to pronounce the final “s” of the 3rd person in English.

    …which, to make matters worse, isn’t even a [s] (except behind voiceless consonants). It’s a [z]. Most kinds of Spanish, and indeed most languages in the world, lack that sound entirely.

  117. >David Marjanovic
    I think usually is pretty much a /h/, nearly like our “j”, above all if there is a liaison.

  118. two random isolated letters and two periods as legal given names.
    In the case of the baseball player known as J. D. Drew, the “J. D.” stands for “Jonathan Drew”. His full name is David Jonathan Drew, but he never liked the “David”, so his friends called him Jonathan, or J. D. for short.

  119. David Marjanović says:

    I think usually is pretty much a /h/, nearly like our “j”, above all if there is a liaison.

    Sorry; I mean that the English 3rd-person -s is [z].

  120. >David Marjanovic
    I’m sorry too. I told you about my Spanish. (Damn babel).

  121. I found out that most of my classmates had 3 or 2 given names (3 is the legal maximum…
    Was this enacted as a reaction to the royal habit? Old uncle Otto, who just died, was Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg. He had 19 names, and was 98.

  122. In Germany…such names (most stereotypically Kai-Uwe) are considered single names, not two. Sometimes, two names are graphically fully fused; compare Hansjörg to the Italian Giancarlo and Giampaolo.
    For a grand subversive total of seven first names (and if he were an Austrian), could Elton John get away with naming his Austrian child Klaus-Albrecht Hansjörg Carl-Ivar* John, for example?
    *A very well-known Knorwegian politician is known to his friends as “Carl Ivar”. To others and in the press he’s always “Carl I. Hagen”, (sounding to me rather like “Carly Simon”).

  123. Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg
    The eighth name needs an added -r-.

  124. It does – he’s a figure still commemorated in Vienna while Otto went into the dustbin of history nearly a hundred years ago. And I’d be able to keep track of the names better if “Sixtus” were number 6 and not, confusingly, number 10. If I’d been his parent I’d have used only numbers: Septimus, possibly Octavian or Augustus, but not both, and so on. Decimus is a name I’ve always liked.

  125. David Marjanović says:

    Attack of the Terrorist Spambots!!!1!eleventyone!!

    Was this enacted as a reaction to the royal habit?

    Perhaps. But it’s equally possible that it’s purely for the convenience of bureaucrats. :-)

    For a grand subversive total of seven first names (and if he were an Austrian), could Elton John get away with naming his Austrian child Klaus-Albrecht Hansjörg Carl-Ivar* John, for example?

    Probably.

  126. John Cowan says:

    Stephen Jay Gould once described Pope Sixtus V (who made contraception an excommunicable offense, and tried to introduce the death penalty for adultery) as “the fifth instar of a guy named ‘six’”.

    In the Ill Bethisad universe, everyone in the multinational Scandinavian Realm (Skandinaviske Riksfællegsskap in Riksmål) has by law a tripartite name (name, patronymic, surname). I don’t know quite how that works in Tsingdav (which was swapped with North China for part of Amager Island in 1953) — perhaps they have official names like “Zedong Yichangde Mao”. But in Iceland and Nýja Ísland (which, like New Sweden, is also part of the North American League) the intent of the law was effectively frustrated, because almost all ethnic Icelanders without surnames simply adopted “Island” as their legal Riksmål surname. Other North Americans think this is pretty funny.

    (New Sweden is between Ter Mair (Mary’s Land to the English) and Pennsylvaania; New Iceland is the area around Gimli, Manitoba in OTL.)

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