Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Oh, What's In a Name?

I've heard people get confused over why Latinos have two last names. Here's the thing. We don't have two last names. We have two sobrenomes, or surnames. You get one of your mom's and one of your dad's in any combination they prefer.

This is how it works:

Let's say Bob and Sally had a baby. They name that baby Fred. That's his nome (name). I guess they decided not to give Fred a segundo nome (second name), which in English is known as a middle name.

Now, Sally's is Sally Smith Anderson, and Bob's is Bob Williams Jones. 

This means that baby Fred could be named any of the following combinations Bob and Sally like best:

Fred Jones Smith
Fred Smith Jones
Fred Anderson Jones
Fred Jones Anderson
Fred Smith Williams
Fred Williams Smith
Fred Williams Anderson
Fred Anderson Williams

This means that whatever two sobrenomes his parents choose are both legally his surname, and he can use either one by itself or the two together.

Here's a real life example with Latino names:

My father's surnames are "de Oliveira" and "Flecha". My mom's is "Braga" and "Espeschit".

They then decided that the combination they liked was "Espeschit Flecha". This means that in Brazil I can say my sobrenome is "Espeschit", "Flecha", or "Espeschit Flecha", and they are all legally true.

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