Ethnic Origin of Last Names

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Last names are also known as family names or surnames. They indicate the family to which a person belongs and they are widely used by different cultures and societies around the world. In most cultures, the family name forms the last part of a person’s name. However, there are also instances where family name comes first (i.e. in China and Korea).

Often associated with honorific titles, the family name indicates a sense of formality and respect. Generally, the first or given name is used to address the person more intimately. Generally, the surname takes on the father’s line instead of the mother’s. Read on to find out more about the ethnic origin of last names.

Though there is no clear record regarding the first use of the surname, the need for surnames arose because there was a need for additional descriptions to identify individuals. In concentrated populations, identifying someone based on their given name proved to be difficult. Over a period of time, these descriptors remain and develop into surnames as we know them today.

There are many ethnicities in the world and a country’s population can have different ethnicities. For example, African-American people often carry the surname Johnson, Brown, and Smith. As for Hispanic Americans, their babies are often named after saints and have surnames like Martinez, Rodriguez, and Lopez. Popular first names include Carlos, Fernando, and Isabel.

Surname naming is not influenced by change of location because, for example, immigrants to a particular country will still hold on to their surname. Chinese surnames, for example, indicate strong clan association and are a good indicator to tell the language spoken within the clan. Popular surnames are such as Wong, Chung, and Lee. Popular Jewish last names include Kohen and Levi. As for the Assyrian and Chaldean ethnics, common surnames are Farhad, Ishaq, and Mikhail.

Surnames indicate your belongingness to a particular ethnic group. Surnames should be combined with appropriate first names to ensure balance and so that the child’s name would not seem too out of place.

When considering names, be sure to consider the difficulty in usage and the significance of the name. It helps to remember that you are choosing an early identity for your child. Therefore, preserve the ethnic origin of last names and select a first name carefully.