Spanish Surnames

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What are the origins of the 2 Spanish surnames? Which is more important'

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updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by Shan

11 Answers

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Has anyone ever read J.F.Waller's poem "MAGDALENA, OR THE SPANISH DUEL"'

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by Robert-Bennett
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Muchas Gracias. I think I now understand what the two surnames represent. Shan

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by Shan
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Some names were banned in Spain during Franco's reign. José Carreras is the perhaps the most well known Spaniard that was forced to change his name from Juan.

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by Mark-Baker
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It can also be influenced by the "importance" of the person's lineage. I once knew a girl who was fond of saying that her name was "María de la O Martinez Negrete Alvaro de Castilla Palomar. (she would also answer to the simpler "Maria Martinez"). (Aside: I remember her and her "full" name because she was exceptionally beautiful and because the name was so spectacularly complicated). At any rate, the point is that she had, in her ancestry, a variety of socially important names and wished to emphasize that heritage.

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by samdie
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I assume no one monograms their handkerchief in these countries. There wouldn't be enough room. I also see that it's still a male dominated system (the man's family name comes first) so I suppose everything is still correct in the universe.

James Santiago said:

Quentin said:

Where's the rest of the explanation? What happens to Mr. Smith's name when he marries Ms. Douglas. Assuming his mother's name was Jones so that his name was Smith Jones does his name change at all to show his new alliance with the Douglas family?

Webcite:Traditionally, if John Smith and Nancy Jones, who live in an English-speaking country, get married and have a son, he would end up with a name such as Chris Smith. But it's not the same in most areas where Spanish is spoken as the native language. If Juan López Marcos marries María Covas Callas, their child would end up with a name such as Mario López Covas. The matter of Spanish surnames might seem confusing at first, but that's mostly because it's different. Although there are numerous variations of how names are handled, just as there can be in English. The basic rule of Spanish names is fairly simple: In general, a person born into a Spanish-speaking family is given a first name followed by two surnames, the first being the father's family name (or, more precisely, the surname he gained from his father) followed by the mother's family name (or, again more precisely, the surname she gained from her father). Take as an example the name of Teresa García Ramírez. Teresa is the name given at birth, García is the family name from her father, and Ramírez is the family name from her mother. If Teresa García Ramírez marries Elí Arroyo López, she doesn't change her name. But it would be extremely common for her to add "de Arroyo" (literally, "of Arroyo"), making her name Teresa García Ramírez de Arroyo.Sometimes, the two surnames can be separated by y (meaning "and"), although this is less common than it used to be: Elí Arroyo y López. Sometimes you will see names that are even longer. Although it isn't done much, at least formally, it is possible also to include grandparents' names in the mix. Things can get a bit complicated for Spanish-speaking people living in places such as the United States, where it is not the norm to use two family names. One choice many make is for all family members to use the father's paternal family name. Also quite common is to hyphenate the two names, e.g., Elí Arroyo-López and Teresa García-Ramírez.

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updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by 0074b507
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Quentin said:

Where's the rest of the explanation? What happens to Mr. Smith's name when he marries Ms. Douglas. Assuming his mother's name was Jones so that his name was Smith Jones does his name change at all to show his new alliance with the Douglas family?

Webcite:
Traditionally, if John Smith and Nancy Jones, who live in an English-speaking country, get married and have a son, he would end up with a name such as Chris Smith. But it's not the same in most areas where Spanish is spoken as the native language. If Juan López Marcos marries María Covas Callas, their child would end up with a name such as Mario López Covas. The matter of Spanish surnames might seem confusing at first, but that's mostly because it's different. Although there are numerous variations of how names are handled, just as there can be in English, the basic rule of Spanish names is fairly simple: In general, a person born into a Spanish-speaking family is given a first name followed by two surnames, the first being the father's family name (or, more precisely, the surname he gained from his father) followed by the mother's family name (or, again more precisely, the surname she gained from her father). Take as an example the name of Teresa García Ramírez. Teresa is the name given at birth, García is the family name from her father, and Ramírez is the family name from her mother. If Teresa García Ramírez marries Elí Arroyo López, she doesn't change her name. But it would be extremely common for her to add "de Arroyo" (literally, "of Arroyo"), making her name Teresa García Ramírez de Arroyo.

Sometimes, the two surnames can be separated by y (meaning "and"), although this is less common than it used to be: Elí Arroyo y López. Sometimes you will see names that are even longer. Although it isn't done much, at least formally, it is possible also to include grandparents' names in the mix. Things can get a bit complicated for Spanish-speaking people living in places such as the United States, where it is not the norm to use two family names. One choice many make is for all family members to use the father's paternal family name. Also quite common is to hyphenate the two names, e.g., Elí Arroyo-López and Teresa García-Ramírez.

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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Where's the rest of the explanation? What happens to Mr. Smith's name when he marries Ms. Douglas. Assuming his mother's name was Jones so that his name was Smith Jones does his name change at all to show his new alliance with the Douglas family?

And referring back to Ms. Douglas was Douglas her father's or mother's name? But wait. Her Mother had two names so which one was Douglas? I think we got a very over-simplified explanation as there never was a Mr. Smith or Ms. Douglas to start off with.

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by 0074b507
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Shan said:

But when did this tradition of the father's surname and mother's surname start? Was it to honor both the mother and the father?

Webcite:
"The practice of a person being given two family names became the custom in Spain largely because of Arabic influence. The custom spread to the Americas during the years of conquest."

Actually, I think it arose because the Spaniards felt guilty for devising a language that was so macho in terms of multiple gender rules (los padres, etc.), so they made this concession to appease the women. (Hey, I'm just kidding, folks!)

Seriously, this system makes more sense to me than the system used in most of the rest of Europe, because both sides of the family get representation.

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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But when did this tradition of the father's surname and mother's surname start? Was it to honor both the mother and the father'

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by Shan
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lazarus1907 said:

What are the origins? One is from the father, and the other from the mother. Both are equally important.

If Mr Smith and Mrs. Douglas married and had children in Spain (or any other country with the same system), she'd always keep her surname, and the children's surname would be "Smith Douglas".

{picking nits}
Unless Mrs. Douglas had been married before, she would be called Miss Douglas or Ms. Douglas until she married Mr. Smith, at which point, if she decided to do so, she would become Mrs. Smith, or she could continue to be called Ms. Douglas. She could not, however, be called Mrs. Douglas, because "Mrs." means "the wife of." Nor could she be called Miss Douglas, because "Miss" means an unmarried (never married) woman.

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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What are the origins? One is from the father, and the other from the mother. Both are equally important.

If Mr Smith and Mrs. Douglas married and had children in Spain (or any other country with the same system), she'd always keep her surname, and the children's surname would be "Smith Douglas".

updated OCT 29, 2008
posted by lazarus1907