Friday, November 20, 2009

The last name plan

A serious post here, regarding my very own perfect plan for solving the dilemma of whether a woman should take her husband's name or not.

The answer is: not.

A problem with solutions that involve joining the wife's name and the husband's name is that over the generations, these names get out of hand.

My plan involves each person having a double last name. At marriage, each person keeps one of those names, and joins it with the name of his/her partner to form a new double last name that is given to the couple's children.

Here's how it works:


At marriage, a person keeps the first part of the double last name, and adds his or her partner's name.

A woman would take the name: MATERNALNAME-HUSBANDSPATERNALNAME. Her husband would take the name: PATERNALNAME-WIFESMATERNALNAME.

Their female children would have the double name of the wife, and the male children the double name of the father.


John Apple-Bacon marries Mary Chestnut-Dogwood.
John's married name is John Apple-Chestnut. Mary's married name is Mary Chestnut-Apple.

John and Mary have a daughter, named Francesca Chestnut-Apple, and a son, named Hernando Apple-Chestnut.

Francesca marries a woman named Regina Soy-Burger. Francesca's married name is Francesca Chestnut-Soy. Regina's married name is Regina Soy-Chestnut.

Hernando marries a woman named Margot Lye-About, and takes the name Hernando Apple-Lye.

All the above are conventions that can be modified as people see fit. But they offer an overall structure that ensures that women keep their matronymic heritage. That each partner in a couple brings a contribution to a common family name, and that family relationships can be traced rather than erased in family names.


Aunt Messy said...

Marc...take a deep breath. Hyphenating either one of my family names with The Boy's would result in a nausea-inducing set of syllables that should never be said in polite company.

I was born under a polysyllabic East European nightmare of a name that I had to spell at LEAST four times a day for my entire life...until the day I got married and finally got rid of that SOB of a name. Don't get me wrong, I still have to spell my name, but at least there are only five letters now.

Oh yeah. I LOATHE most of my side of the family, too. I refused to have the same name as THOSE assholes.

Marc Naimark said...

No need to take a breath. I did say: "All the above are conventions that can be modified as people see fit." I'm simply suggesting that we exchange one set of conventions (wife takes husband's last name) which isn't working well and replace it with another that would work better for most people. In any case, everyone is free to use the name they please.

CMH said...! It's the best plan I've seen! There are some similarities to how things are done in Spain (not sure about Latin America, though). There will almost certainly be people who grumble about it being too complicated, but those are likely the same ninnies, boobs and dunderheads who can't stomach the slightest deviation from the norm (meaning them, of course) because it's something they might actually have to think about.

With regard to Messy's point, perhaps people could be allowed to use only the first surname in most situations although both names would be on any formal documents.

My idea for kids' surnames was to just give all of them a generic surname and let them choose their own when they reach some reasonably adult milestone, like getting a driver's license, registering to vote or some such thing. They would be able to choose any name they liked: father's surname, mother's surname, some illustrious ancestor's surname, whatever combination of letters comes up on the screen if they sit on the keyboard...