Origin of Family Names

Eons ago, people did not have carry any surnames. The origin of family names can be traced back the earliest to the 12th century in England. The Norman race was the first to introduce the concept based on occupation roles and societal functions. For instance, Smith initially was pioneered by a goldsmith or blacksmith type of occupational role.

There is patriarchal tradition for passing down surnames, done by the English such as the Gaelic by adding “Mac”, as the Norman heritage for “Son” and Irish surname of “O”. For example, Donald’s son will carry his name as a surname with MacDonald if he is Gaelic, Donaldson if presumably he is a Norman and, O’ Donald if by any chance he is Irish.

The Germans had started applying surnames from the 15th century onwards and the origin of family names in ancient Germany such as Bavaria and Austria, would be shared in each villages. Germanic surname roots suggest that people who share the identical family names are not necessarily blood-related. Schumacher literarily means shoemaker when translated from its Germanic roots. Popular German surnames have “-er“, “-hauer”, and “macher”, which means “one who is”, “cutter”, and “maker” respectively. Again, the meanings are based on occupational role.

Non-European cultures have the same function when it comes to surnames. For example, recent statistics carried out in South Korea stated that Kim is the most frequent surname and Zhang is awfully popular in China.

In India, the origin of family names are the label for each level of the caste system, and the Indian community is very particular when mingling around with unsuitable caste members. The country is often criticized for out-casting the “Untouchables”, who originally detain their so-called low caste identity from their sewage cleaning forefathers. Marriages are typically arranged by the bride and groom’s families in order to prevent intermarriage between the high and low castes.

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