Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Name Game - Family Name Schematics In Different Cultures

Jasia at Creative Gene, who you all know I absolutely adore and really made me the genea-blogging junkie that I am, has a great post today dealing with the concept of a "matriname." What is a matriname? Basically, it is a method of using the wife's family name (or surname) in conjunction with the husband's family name when getting married. When offspring are produced, the families names of both mother and father can be used for naming the child.

My Matriname

First, let me meet Jasia's challenge as to what my matriname would be. But it really depends on the schematic used by the wife and her new married name.

If the format is Given Name (GN), Wife's Family Name (WFN), Husband's Family Name (HFN) then my mother's would be:

Jacqueline Austin MacEntee

For me, then if the format is Given Name (GN), Mother's Family Name (MFN), Father's Family Name (FFN) then mine would be:

Thomas Austin MacEntee

If the format is Given Name (GN), Father's Family Name (FFN), Mother's Family Name (MFN), then mine would be:

Thomas MacEntee Austin

I believe that the first instance would be more common here in the United States for naming children and is what Jasia intended in her post. But the second instance is common in some cultures, especially Hispanic ones, where it is understand that the middle name is the FFN and what we would call the "last name" is the MFN.

Family Names

Wikipedia (which I adore almost as much as Jasia and is now a widget on my iGoogle page), has a great entry on the concept of family name with examples for many different cultures.

Hispanic Family Naming Schematics

My first encounter with a family name schematic different than the culture in which I was raised was when I took Spanish in high school and college. In many Hispanic cultures, as mentioned above, the format for a name is GN FFN MFN but it is understand that the child's FFN is used in conversation when identifying that person. Not all Hispanic cultures are alike - in Argentina, due to a large Italian and French influence, the format used most often is GN FFN much like our current schematic here in the United States.

In no way do I want to entirely discuss the Hispanic family naming schematics in this post - the aforementioned Wikipedia article is a good way of doing some further investgation. But there are some aspects that I find interesting:

- In Mexico and Spain it was popular to use the schematic GN FFN de HFN when a woman was married. Thus Ana Garcia Lopez (GN MFN FFN) marrying Alex Saenz Zapatero ( GN MFN FFN) would become Ana Garcia de Zapatero (GN FFN de HFN). Since the "de" (meaning "of") basically states that the wife is "owned" by the husband, this practice has been waning in modern times.

- In Spain, a more common practice has been to create a compound family name (CFN) for the child but only using the husband's family names. Thus, the son of Ana and Alex above would be Tomas Saenz y Sapatero (the "y" meaning "and") which is basically GN FMFN FFFN (FMFN = Father's Mother's Family Name and FFFN = Father's Father's Family Name)

- Also in Spain, laws have been changed allowing a married couple to choose any configuration for naming a child. This is due to a large opinion of Spaniards that traditionally women have been shortchanged over history when it comes to perpetuating their family name.

Patrynomic Family Naming Schematics

Again, I am not going to go into the topic as well as the Wikipedia article could, but being of Dutch ancestry, I've had to learn the Dutch family naming schematic, if only to help with my genealogy research. Very often, I've been able to find mistakes from previous researchers due to what is a very delineated method of naming children.

The naming schematic uses the prefix "se" as "son" and less so "de" as "daughter." I have ancestors with names like Arent Janse Putman meaning "Arent, son of Jan Putman." For females however, it is not as common to see the prefix applied. I do have entries such as Anna Janse Putman but more common is using a "diminutive" for the female given name. Thus it would be Anntje or Annetje Putman meaning "little Anna" or "Annie."

Irish Family Naming Schematics

My current struggle with family names is how MacEntee came about and whether, in more recent times, it is related to the McEntee family name. A very good article discussing this concept is entitled Mhac an t'Saoir Country.

MacEntee and McEntee are both translated as "son of a sage" or "son of a scholar." The author in the above article traces the roots of the name and how it isn't necessarily a derivative of the more common MacAteer or McAteer meaning "son of a carpenter." As in English family names, many describe a trade in which the family practiced such as barrel making (Cooper) or tin making (Tinker). The family name MacEntee/McEntee is much less common and has allowed me to focus on the County Monaghan area of Ireland for my research.

What Family Naming Schematic Should I Use?

Finally, I've thought about the best way I could honor the women in my family by somehow still using the WFN or MFN in my research and blogging. I've decided that in most of my blog posts to use the GN WFN HFN format whenever possible. Thus you will often see Therese McGinnis Austin rather than just Therese Austin. The purpose to me is two-fold: it allows me to no "lose" the strong connection with the maternal family line for these women and it is also an aid to fellow researchers if they were to come across the name, making it much easier to see that person's maternal family line.


Jasia said...

Yep, that's me, corrupter of men ;-)

Wonderful post T! I learned much from it. I wasn't aware of the various naming conventions so I appreciate hearing about those.

The more I think about the idea of using a matrilineal name along with a surname the more I like the idea. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's an efficient way of doing that using Legacy. I may just start inserting one in place of a middle name though. It would be ever so much more helpful when I'm looking at name lists.



Anonymous said...

My maiden name is McIntee, probably from the same line somewhere. I am thinking it is a dutch name somewhere along the line, as, in 1735, there was, I have been told, that a Patrick McIntee and a Patrick Mackentee were both baptized the same day and at the same Dutch Reformed Church in Ulster, New York. I have not been able to prove this. However, on my Ontario, Canada research, I have always wondered why these McIntee (Irish supposedly) were marrying women of German descent. In the census most of them give their nationality as Irish, but some note that it is Dutch. Interesting. Maybe they originally came from Holland to Ireland and somewhere along the line the name was anglicized. That branch of the McIntees came to Ontario, Canada as they United Empire Loyalists.
Has anyone ever come across this information?

Gidget said...

But using someone's maiden name from a patrilineal descent line is still a patriname, it's just someone else's patriname further back the line than your own father. The same with Hispanic kinship, they are just passing on two patrinames. A matriname is passed only from mother to children- it comes from her mother, her mother, her mother, all the way back to the mother clan. A true matriname is shared with only uncles and brothers, never with a father except in cases of incest. You can have both a patriname from your father (that only sons pass on since a woman's sons would receive their father's patriname, not her father's) and a matriname from your mother, but the matriname is not a matriname if you received it through a male line, because that would make it patrilineal, hence, patriname. If we are not, say, Navajo or Minangkabu and we don't know our matrinames or mother clans, a patriname doesn't really fix that, whether you trace it back to your grandma or all the way back to the 1700's or even back to ancient Rome. Short of making one up, the only way to get a true matriname is to get an mtDNA test and find out what haplogroup you trace to. It's too bad those tests have to cost money! But once it's spent, you have your kids', and your sisters' kids', and all the female children's kids, and so on, matrineal line for good, so it's probably worth picking a good ancestry company and saving up for an mtDNA test if you really want to select a matriline name.