In the grand scheme of human language, surnames do not have a long history. Their use is sporadic and ill-defined throughout the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations – and typically they indicate clan membership, as opposed to an unique lineal relationship, especially among the aristocracy – but by the 5th century, the use of family names had been abandoned. The beginning of their use in English is traced to the Norman invasion of the 11th century, with common usage coming centuries later. In other places, the use of surnames is a new phenomena: Netherlands (1811), Japan (1870s), Thailand (1920), and Turkey (1934). In some places they don’t exist at all, including Iceland.
The current mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, adopted a new surname combining his original surname with that of his spouse’s.
In any case, my hope for the past year or so, was that a logical method for choosing a last name would present itself. Alas, I’m starting to suspect that J will go into labour and we still will not have decided.
J and I did discuss some interesting last names, each with their own particular rationale (for instance, J and I were engaged to be married in Banff):
- Snow, Snowdon/Snowden
But as the carefree days come to an end, J and I are gripped by the likelihood of giving our newborn the last name of Mowat or Hutchinson, and not something more…creative.
At the moment, the Hutchinson clan and the Mowat clan are in the same boat: no further sons to carry the last name on into the future, beyond the current generation: ie, myself and my brother-in-law Kyle. That really doesn’t mean as much to me as it once maybe did. Nevertheless, it is a small consideration to make, I suppose.
There are, I fear, even tougher decisions on the horizon.
- links: http://ask.metafilter.com/106848/Help-us-pick-a-fancy-new-surname