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  1. #1
    Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    Default Given Names and Surnames

    Hello :)

    1. From a previous thread here in the forum, I learn that names in the west are very personal. It's just your given name, and the surname.
    My question is: how do you differentiate between people with the same names?
    There could be 1000 persons called John Smith. :S
    How do banks or businesses or any institution for instance know which John Smith they are talking about? Do they to depend on the "social security number" or the equivalent every time?


    2. Can a child gets a surname different than his father's surname? Like his mother's Surname? How has the right to do so? and at what age?


    Thanks :)

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Different John Smiths may have different, given middle names. But, yes, banks and similar institutions use the Social Security number as an identifier.

    In traditional American culture, the children would assume the father's surname at birth (the mother would at marriage).

    This would still be the case in the majority of cases today. But some families choose to give the children both mother's and father's surnames (often hyphenated). Some children are born to single mothers or in other circumstances where the mother's name is assigned to the child.

  3. #3
    Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Thanks a lot SoothingDave.
    Allow me to ask further questions.

    1. Why doe the wife take her husband's surname after marriage? Is it compulsory thing in Christianity? Or is it just a social thing?

    2. In case of dispute between unmarried couples, who decides what first and surname does the child take? The mother?

    3. Is it obligatiory that the child gets either the mother's or the father's or the hyphanned surname?
    Is there a chance that two brother can have different surnames.

    4. If yes, How are official records maintained?
    I hope my question is not too curious, but is there a way to know that x and y (who have different surnames) are brothers or sisters? Is there any sort of official "family tree" to keep track of things?

    In the Middle East things are way different, that's why I'm asking so many questions :)

  4. #4
    Ouisch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Quote Originally Posted by Ducklet Cat View Post
    Hello :)

    1. From a previous thread here in the forum, I learn that names in the west are very personal. It's just your given name, and the surname.
    My question is: how do you differentiate between people with the same names?
    There could be 1000 persons called John Smith. :S
    How do banks or businesses or any institution for instance know which John Smith they are talking about? Do they to depend on the "social security number" or the equivalent every time?
    Even if your name is seemingly uncommon, like "Seymour Mazlow Freen", there's always a chance that there might be at least one other person out there with an identical name, so banks and other institutions usually rely on unique identifiers, like a Social Security Number. Having a very common name can sometimes be difficult; try checking into a hotel when your real name is "John Smith" and see if you don't get a sly look from the desk clerk. There actually is a "Jim Smith" club in the US whose members are all men named Jim Smith. Obviously, when they attend their annual convention they can't address one another as "Jim", since 400+ people will answer! So they instead put their home towns on their name tags and are known as "Jim Detroit" or "Jim Miami."

    Then there are parents who can't resist having fun naming their new baby something comical when they have a surname that lends itself to such possibilities. For example, I once read about a local man whose surname was "Duck" and his parents named him "Donald." His problem was that almost 50 percent of the time when he tried to make a reservation somewhere or order something over the telephone, the other party thought it was a prank call and hung up on him.

    2. Can a child gets a surname different than his father's surname? Like his mother's Surname? How has the right to do so? and at what age?


    Thanks :)
    Technically in the US, a parent can choose any surname at all for their child when filling out the birth certificate. So even if the mother's surname is "Jones" and the father's is "Brown," they can choose to name their child "John Miller." Not many people take advantage of this option, however, and it is customary for the child to take the father's surname. Sometimes single mothers will use their surname for the baby and not the father's. If the mother gets married later, she can apply to have the child's name legally changed. In fact, an adult in the US can also apply to legally change either his first or last name (or both), as long as they are not doing so for fraudulant purposes (for example, if they are criminals and want to change their name to avoid capture).

  5. #5
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Quote Originally Posted by Ducklet Cat View Post
    Thanks a lot SoothingDave.
    Allow me to ask further questions.

    1. Why doe the wife take her husband's surname after marriage? Is it compulsory thing in Christianity? Or is it just a social thing?

    2. In case of dispute between unmarried couples, who decides what first and surname does the child take? The mother?

    3. Is it obligatiory that the child gets either the mother's or the father's or the hyphanned surname?
    Is there a chance that two brother can have different surnames.

    4. If yes, How are official records maintained?
    I hope my question is not too curious, but is there a way to know that x and y (who have different surnames) are brothers or sisters? Is there any sort of official "family tree" to keep track of things?

    In the Middle East things are way different, that's why I'm asking so many questions :)
    I live in the West so I feel allowed to answer.

    You're asking legal questions so you should be aware that the regulations may vary depending on the region.

    1. It's not compulsory in Poland. Many women don't take their husbands' names (especially famous women). Some men take their wives' names. Hyphenated surnames are also common.

    Remember that, nowadays, it's the state that says how people can be named. The Church has no legal authority to do that.

    2. It's a good question. I don't know. I've never heard of such a case. Parents are usually able to come to agreement about this. I hope someone knows the answer!

    3. It is obligatory in Poland. You can't have whatever name you want. Also given names are regulated. (You can't name your child "Sh*t".)

    Brothers may have different surnames in Poland.

    4. There are no official family trees in Poland. Are there where you live?

  6. #6
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Laws on this may vary from state to state.

    My cousin was not able to be present at the birth of his daughter to a woman he was not married to. She was not allowed to list him on the birth certificate and name the baby his last name without some sort of paperwork - an affidavit of paternity or some such thing. I can't remember the details now, but I was surprised. I learned that a woman can't just have a baby and say "Joe Blow is the father and the baby's name is Josephine Blow" without Joe being part of that.

    I did know one couple who named their daughter with the wife's last name (she did not take her husband's name at marriage) and their son with the father's last name.

    No, there is no requirement - legal, religious, or social - to change your name when you marry.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. #7
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    No, there is no requirement - legal, religious, or social - to change your name when you marry.
    There may be some sort of social pressure in my country. Some people don't like "all this liberal nonsense".

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    In the United Kingdom it is possible to change your own name at any time just by deciding to. If I wished to change my name tomorrow to Mary Jones (I am, incidentally, male) I could do so, provided there was no intent to defraud.

    Of course, it would be sensible to inform the tax authorities, social security services, my bank, employer, etc, in order to avoid problems.

    To avoid real problems, many people who wish to change their names do so by deed poll (Deed poll - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), but there is no legal obligation to do so.

    The United Kingdom differs from some other countries in that there are no restrictions on forenames that can be given. If I wish to name my child phrignox asbestos, I am free to do so.

  9. #9
    Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    Even if your name is seemingly uncommon, like "Seymour Mazlow Freen", there's always a chance that there might be at least one other person out there with an identical name, so banks and other institutions usually rely on unique identifiers, like a Social Security Number. Having a very common name can sometimes be difficult; try checking into a hotel when your real name is "John Smith" and see if you don't get a sly look from the desk clerk. There actually is a "Jim Smith" club in the US whose members are all men named Jim Smith. Obviously, when they attend their annual convention they can't address one another as "Jim", since 400+ people will answer! So they instead put their home towns on their name tags and are known as "Jim Detroit" or "Jim Miami."

    Then there are parents who can't resist having fun naming their new baby something comical when they have a surname that lends itself to such possibilities. For example, I once read about a local man whose surname was "Duck" and his parents named him "Donald." His problem was that almost 50 percent of the time when he tried to make a reservation somewhere or order something over the telephone, the other party thought it was a prank call and hung up on him.



    Technically in the US, a parent can choose any surname at all for their child when filling out the birth certificate. So even if the mother's surname is "Jones" and the father's is "Brown," they can choose to name their child "John Miller." Not many people take advantage of this option, however, and it is customary for the child to take the father's surname. Sometimes single mothers will use their surname for the baby and not the father's. If the mother gets married later, she can apply to have the child's name legally changed. In fact, an adult in the US can also apply to legally change either his first or last name (or both), as long as they are not doing so for fraudulant purposes (for example, if they are criminals and want to change their name to avoid capture).
    LOL, I loved the stories you mentioned, especially Donald Duck.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. #10
    Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Given Names and Surnames

    Thanks birdeen's call.

    3. It is obligatory in Poland. You can't have whatever name you want.
    Brothers may have different surnames in Poland.
    How is that possible? You mean that one brother gets that father's surname, while the other gets the mother's surname?


    4. There are no official family trees in Poland. Are there where you live?
    Yes, very much.
    In the Arab word, we give a lot of attention to such details, and the system is very rigid. This comes form the way we view family, being the core of society, so this reflects itself on names.

    for example, my name in official papers has at least four parts:
    1. Name first name
    2. my father's name
    3. my grand father's name
    4. my great grand father's name
    5. my surname/family name

    Also, on my birth certificate, my mother's full name is mentioned. This is obligatory.
    And all official papers and IDs show at least the 4 parts of the name (fist name, father name, grandfather name, family name). This was, it is very easy to differentiate between people with the same name. And if it ever happens that 2 people have the same names with all its 4 parts, then we can easily check the father's records and know the great grand father names and tell who is who.

    So, you can easily know my siblings, my aunts and uncles (maternal and paternal), my cousins (maternal and paternal), and even my second cousins, and so on just by looking at my official papers.

    Changing the family is very difficult, because it comes with the family tree. There should be compelling reasons for doing so. (like proving the the current father is not the biological father, and thus changing the whole chain of names except the first one, or if the whole family agrees to change their family names and that takes a lot of legal work, or if you can proove that there was a typo or a problem in recording the family name)

    Changing the first name is fairly easy though.

    In Arab and Islamic countries, there is no way that the wife takes her husband's surname, but with Christian Arabs they do that, but usually the wife keeps her family name, succeeded by the husband's family name.

    And sorry for blabbing :)

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