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Author Topic: Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?  (Read 1777 times)

Offline CliffordK

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In the USA one usually calls grandparents with the last name/surname (although it is often shortened or abbreviated).

Grandpa/Grandma (surname)

Aunts and uncles are almost always called with the appropriate term and the first name, and it is rarely abbreviated.

Aunt/Uncle (first name)

Nieces or Nephews are NEVER called with the relationship term, but only called by their fist name.

Do not use Niece/Nephew (first name)

I suppose a term such as Aunt/Uncle (surname) would be very non-specific with large families, however, if 2 children families become more common, then it would be quite specific, but it doesn't account to why the terms niece/nephew aren't used in conjunction with the younger generation's names.


 

Offline graham.d

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #1 on: 27/06/2011 09:52:30 »
It is reasonably efficient and logical but it also reflects the relative status. People have two sets of grandparents and it would be rare for them to have the same surname so referring to them as grand*a (surname) is an efficient and unique definition. For Aunts and Uncles there can be many with the same surname but only a few (if any) that will have the same forename (by coincidence), when some additional name would have to be used. For nieces and nephews I would think that just using their first names results from their relative status as generally being junior.

The status issue plays a part; you would not address grandparents with their surnames when speaking with them. You give them a title but their familial closeness permits this to be sufficient. With aunts and uncles, they are usually more senior but not so close, so it is polite to give them status and a name when speaking with them. In the other direction the status of nephews and nieces is not so high and any title is dropped.

I am not sure how universal such a system is. Most english speaking nations are very similar. Some countries have much more formal methods of address, Germany and Russia for example, though I don't know whether this extends to close family members.
 

Offline Geezer

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #2 on: 27/06/2011 10:09:59 »
All I know is that some names can be a bit redundant.

My grandfather was George.
My father was George.
My brother is George.
My cousin is George.
I had two uncles named George.
And, my father-in-law is, guess what, George.

Sheesh!
 

Offline CliffordK

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #3 on: 27/06/2011 10:58:32 »
All I know is that some names can be a bit redundant.

My grandfather was George.
My father was George.
My brother is George.
My cousin is George.
I had two uncles named George.
And, my father-in-law is, guess what, George.

Sheesh!

By George, That sounds confusing!!!!

In my family, a couple of generations back....

Edna AxxB was George AxxB's sister.
Edna AyyB was George AyyB's sister.

Edna AxxB married George AyyB
Edna AyyB married George AxxB

So, my mother actually had two Aunt Ednas and two Uncle Georges.

Then it is always confusing trying to figure out the difference between maiden names and married names when discussing their relations as Edna AxxB took on the married name Edna AyyB, and Edna AyyB took on the married name Edna AxxB.

I suppose Spanish would have been easier as women keep both the maiden name and married name.  Then you would only have to contend with Edna AxxB AyyB & Edna AyyB AxxB.

(names obscured, but both last names were 4 letters long beginning and ending with the same letter).
 

Offline graham.d

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #4 on: 27/06/2011 13:15:54 »
If you go back a few centuries, except for aristocrats, many people did not pass on the surnames at all. In many Gaelic countries people used, as their surname, "son-of-father's forename". So you would have ap-Harry (now contracted to Parry) or Mac- in Scotland. In Ireland there was a tendancy to have the clan name - so O'Sullivan was Ó Súilleabháin from the clan name, for example. In England many names derive from the occupation, so there are a lot of people called Smith (as in the job) but ancestors are easy to trace because, at one time, every village had a Smith so they are distributed in such a way that makes the local records of births, marriages and deaths unambiguous. There are also some "son of" names Davidson, Davis etc are David's Son for example. In Russia people's middle name refers to "son of xyz" (the "(ov)ich" bit means son) as in Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin or Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. I'm not sure whether this tradition is continued exclusively today though.

Sorry if this is slightly off subject, but I thought you may find it interesting.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #5 on: 27/06/2011 19:10:10 »
The Icelanders still use that system (or so I believe). .and they name their daughters in a comparable manner, for example
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjork.
The number of Johnson, Williamson, Wilkinson ... etc suggests it's not been that rare in England too.
I don't know to what extent it's a stereotype but there are so many Welsh people with the surname Jones that they get called by their occupation; Jones the steam, Jones the baker etc.
Incidentally, the letter J doesn't exist in Welsh, so how come so many of them are called Jones?

Then there are the people named after their place of origin. Da Vinci is probably the best know example.
 

Offline Don_1

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #6 on: 28/06/2011 14:01:58 »
All I know is that some names can be a bit redundant.

My grandfather was George.
My father was George.
My brother is George.
My cousin is George.
I had two uncles named George.
And, my father-in-law is, guess what, George.

Sheesh!


Keen fans of Monty Python eh!
 

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Why are the naming conventions of relatives as they are?
« Reply #6 on: 28/06/2011 14:01:58 »

 

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