Did you know?

Among the Aranda, a hunting and gathering people of central Australia, children are given two names: an ordinary personal name and a sacred, secret name. A man’s sacred name is revealed to him by the band elders only when they judge him sufficiently mature, while a woman’s sacred name is never revealed to her. Alford 1988, p 57

Korean children are not named for 100 days, to avoid the notice of malevolent spirits. Alford 1988, p 35

The Native American Iroquois child received one first name at birth and received a new name upon entry into adulthood. Alford 1988, p 5

The Masai child is given its first name by its mother a few months after birth. The father bestows a second name when the child can walk, and the mother bestows yet another name during childhood. In addition, a Masai woman is given a fourth name by her husband when she marries. Alford 1988, p 38

A classified ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian:

‘Help us name our baby! Dad has his last name, mom has hers. What do we name the baby?

What did you do? His? Hers? Hyphen? Anagrams? Ideas, please. Write baby…’ Lebell 1988 cited in Stodder p 585

In surname societies, an individual’s kin group is important enough to constitute a component of his or her name, and often it is the most socially significant component. Surnames serve to symbolize family continuity and the embeddedness of the individual in the kin group. Alford 1988, p 55

In Mexico, Latin America and Spain children receive dual surnames representing mothers and fathers. Nugent 2010, p 501

A change of name denotes a ‘passage’ in the life course’ and can be viewed as a symbol in the narrative of personal change. Giddens 1991, p 79 cited in Finch 2008,  p 712

In southern India many people (women and men) traditionally will have three names – the name of their village, their father’s name and their personal name, in that order. Hanks & Hodges 2003, p 390 cited in Finch 2008, p 710

These days, growing numbers of young Swedes about to marry are not only choosing flatware but also picking new names. Sometimes it is an older family name; more often it is one they simply concoct. Sofia Wetterlund, 29, was born Sofia Jönsson, and when she decided to marry last year, she and her spouse-to-be, Karl Andersson, were simply tired of their names. “We both thought Andersson and Jönsson were very common,” she said. “Karl wanted something different, I wanted something different. We just didn’t want to be taken for the others.” The couple cast about in their families’ past and Ms. Wetterlund discovered, well, Wetterlund, her grandmother’s maiden name. “We thought it was pretty, and it was quite uncommon,” she said.



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