Naming conventions

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With increasing cultural diversity in many areas of the world and additional complexity in naming conventions, the proper entry and display of member names can become quite confusing. The basic principle is to make the official name on the Church records the same as the person's legal name, but exactly what the person's legal name is is not always clear. Language differences, immigration and immigration status, culture, naming conventions and different systems for spelling or writing a name can all lead to different names.

Consider the following potential issues:

  • Different cultures include different conventions for naming children. For example, in South America surnames are usually a combination of the Father's surname and the Mother's surname. In many cultures in the Far East, the surname or family name comes first, followed by the given name. And some areas of the world, such as Iceland and India, the use of patronymics in creating surnames is still common.
  • Historically, immigrating from one country or culture to another has often confused names, introducing different spellings, spellings in a different alphabet, changing word order in names, and even completely different names.
  • Even when someone's name comes from a different culture, they may not follow the naming conventions of that culture, either because they wish to differentiate themselves, or because they are an immigrant to a new culture and have decided to follow the conventions of their new culture, or they are descended from immigrants and are therefore using the conventions of the new culture.

Naming conventions by culture

The following are foreign naming conventions frequently encountered in the U.S. and Canada. More information, and information for cultures not listed below, can be found through the Wikipedia category Names by Culture.

Spanish-language cultures

Names are usually in the order: Given name, Middle names, Surname (composed of Father's surname, followed by Mother's surname).

  • Surnames are usually multiple words, made up of the father's surname and then the mother's surname (that is, the surname inherited from the father's father and the mother's father). So if Ángela López Martí­nez (mother) and Tomás de la Cruz Portillo (father) have a daughter named Laura and a son named Pedro they will be named Laura de la Cruz López and Pedro de la Cruz López. The order is generally surname from the father first, then surname from the mother (although as long as the family is consistent among the children, the reverse order can also be used). The surname from the father is the surname passed to children.
  • When they marry, some women drop their mother's surname and in its place add "de" and their husband's surname.
  • Immigrants to the US often drop their mother's surname (at least in everyday use) and follow English conventions.

See also

Further reading

This page was last modified on 14 June 2009, at 01:57.

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