Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Whine: Hyphenated Names

I think that parents who given their children a hyphenated last name are doing them a great injustice.

First, it's hard to put a hyphenated last name on forms. And what do you do as a kid? You spend half your time filling out forms. Even these days, when you may not be dealing with scantrons, it's still got to be a pain in the ass.

Second, think about what happens when you give your last name for an appointment or whatever. Nobody ever knows how to spell it, so you have to spell it out. Then you have to tell them there's a hyphen. Then you have to spell the second name. Think about doing that your whole life.

And if you do this to a boy, what happens when they get married? Does the wife drop her own name and taken on both her husband's parents' names? I wouldn't be thrilled about doing that. And what if she wants to hyphenate? Will she now have three names? And what if her name is hyphenated? Will her new hyphenated name now have four parts?? And what about the children? Will they each have four hyphenated names???

I think it's selfish to hyphenate. To me, it means that neither parent was willing to compromise their precious last name in order not to saddle their child with that burden. Especially when the two names sound awful together. Like I knew this guy whose last name was O'Malley-Goldstein. Seriously??

Options that I think are okay:

--Making one parent's last name the child's middle name

--Alternating which child gets which parent's last name

--Creating some new last name that's one word but somehow a fusion of both names

--Anything that doesn't involve a freaking hyphen!

And don't get me started on hyphenated first names, Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

21 comments:

  1. As a person with both parents' last names (not hyphenated, but smooshed together), I wouldn't choose any differently. It's actually not that hard to fill out forms. I'd much rather have my unique name than be just another Smith or Johnson.

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    1. Yes, but they're not hyphenated. And presumbly, your parents names are not super-long.... your name isn't like, Karabinakisgoldfarber.

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    2. Alas, they are super long so that approximation is actually pretty accurate. The most annoying part is when people "helpfully" add a hyphen where one doesn't belong. But it's still not that bad.

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  2. I have 4 names, i.e. 2 middle names, one of which is my mom's last name. It's still a pain, trust me. They only give space for one middle name on most forms, and the TSA has harassed me because my name on my id didn't match my ticket (it did, but it's so long that my last name ran onto the next line).

    Still, I saddled my daughter with 4 names as well. Why? Because I like it.

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    1. I feel like that's less onerous, only because middle names don't come into play *that* much. I hardly ever use mine.

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    2. I have two middle names as well, and I get annoyed when the MI box only allows for one (I feel like I'm ignoring my mom or something by leaving the second initial out).

      But it was actually fine until I joined the military - now everyone gets all confused when I have to explain that I have two middle names and the second one gets cut off after 3 letters.

      Oh well, I agree that it's still better than a hyphenated last name. (plus if I change my last name when I get married, my dad loses out but I keep my mom's name, so I'd say it was smart of her, haha).

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  3. My boy cousins have hyphenated names. One cousin's wife removed the hyphen, but the first last name ends in a double "s". In the middle of their new last name is a "ssm". It's weird. My other boy cousin's wife did not take his last name at all. Neither wife was happy about the circumstance. My girl cousin from the same family dropped the second half of the hyphen when she got married. My mother wanted to be just like her sister and almost hyphenated our names but my dad wouldn't do it. I'm so glad they didn't. Our middle names are our mother's maiden name.

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  4. My husband is part Cuban and has a hyphenated name. Its customary in the Latin culture. Its from his grandparents. I was a Smith -boring. Now not only is my name Hispanic & hyphenated, its contains a Z. I love it. The kiddos just use first name, last 2 initials on normal papers.

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  5. My maiden name was hyphenated. My entire name was over 30 letters long, with 17 of those letters being in my last name.

    When I got older, I mostly just went by my last-last name (my dad's, incidentally). But school stuff was impossible. They'd have to reformat year books, name lists that appear on everything from the back of shirts to grad programs, JUST TO FIT MY ENTIRE NAME IN. Administration seemed more able to grasp that I might have two middle names (??) than a hyphenated last name. Or would completely omit the last-last name, which was the name that I actually went by. And a lot of formal forms have letter limits, which with my entire first, m, last name -- would usually cut off about 2/3s the way through my last name.

    I got married and took my husband's last name, which only has three letters.

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  6. My first name is hyphenated. It's unique and I love it, but you're right that it is a pain in the ass to deal with when filling out forms, spelling your name over the phone, etc. People get confused about what I mean when I say "hyphen", too. I've had people put an apostrophe instead. It's also difficult to get people to call me by my full first name- they usually drop the name after the hyphen.

    I'm not married yet, but it bothers me that I probably couldn't hyphenate my last name because it would just be ridiculous. Double hyphens? Yeah...

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  7. My husband's culture and my own both have traditions of having more than 3 names. However, both of our children were born in the US where the form only gives you an option for first, middle, and last names. So legally my kids both have two first names (occasionally hyphenated by officials), but go by their second first name. It isn't ideal but what we had to do to adapt to life in the US.

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  8. In Hispanic cultures, Juan Castillo Hernández marries Selena Reyes Gómez, their kids' surnames are Castillo Reyes. You use the first names only and drop the second ones, you don't get to a ridiculous situation with dozens of surnames being used...
    When little Diego Castillo Reyes marries Maria Garcia Luna, their kids' surnames are Castillo Garcia. Not so hard for an MD to grasp, surely?

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    1. Yeah! I have my name Like this.

      It's true we only take our parents paternal last names.
      So if my moms last names are Ruiz Cortés and my dads are Castillo Maravilla.
      My name would be Levi Castillo Ruiz :)

      I think it works out pretty ok

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  9. I have two last names, but there is no hyphen in them. Plus, I don't have a middle name and people think that my second last name is my middle name. It's difficult. And in school, when you don't have a middle name they put "N" for No Middle Name. And people ask what the "N" stands for. Now, my family is Hispanic and my dad has only one last name and my mother had a middle name and two last names. I have my dad's last name and one of my mother's last name. It's really confusing.

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  10. As a pediatric resident, I have to confess that we laugh in private at alot of names in the nursery. I cant tell you how many "Lord Voldemort Smith" "Thomas Riddle Jones" "Kash Jones" "Snow White" "Ashley Secret Smith" "Neveah" (Heaven backwards, and yes even "ABCDE" (ab-c-dee). These poor kids are going to need alot of help in middle school.

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    1. Haha. Now that is a different issue than hyphens and I think FAR WORSE. Both my parents are retired inner city school teachers and still like to discuss some of the more "unique" and wacky names of former students. Of my mom talks about how one year she had five Sheniquas who all spelled their names different. Seriously. There was a boy named Toy and a girl literally named Myangel. And my dad always talks about the story, that I sure hope is legend (assuming so since I've heard it elsewhere) of the woman who giving birth thought the word Placenta was so pretty and named her daughter that. Oy.

      I mean I'm Tzipora which is a very common Hebrew/ Jewish/ Israeli name though I'm not Israeli or even Orthodox and get mistaken as such and constantly have to help people pronounce it. But at least it's a rather dignified name (it means bird actually and I'm very find of birds as a result) and its biblical (the wife of Moses). So cultural names are one thing and if I ever have a child they will probably also have a Jewish given name (there's the whole other aspect of having an English name and a Hebrew name too and some people use those all together in a big string of names) but now POP culture names is a whole other story... How lasting is "Lord Voldemort" (wouldn't Harry have. Been a lot easier?) or Beyonce or whatever?

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  11. The best verifiable stories I know about crazy names: My aunt was an L&D nurse, she had a patient with twins. The mother told her she was naming them Ohrangelo and Lehmongelo. The spellings were Orangejello and Lemonjello. A friend of mine knew of some parents who went for a walk in the woods before the birth of their daughter. It was raining that day, and they heard an owl. They decided to name her Owl Rain.

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    1. The jello twins thing is a commonly repeated story. I actually almost brought it up with the placenta story. Not saying its not true but so many people claim to know someone who knew someone who named their kids that so... Hard to know. Probably is true somewhere, though I think we can agree that some people should not even be having kids, let alone giving them the names they give!

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  12. I had an aunt that taught in an inner-city school. She had several students named "Shit'head"-pronounced "sh-thee-ed". I also know of triplets named T'mornin, T'omorrow, and T'yesterday. Makes me very appreciative of my very common name!

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  13. Favorite thing I ever saw as a nurse were names that were not only hyphenated but were just the same name twice.
    For example: Hernandez-Hernandez or Michaelson-Michaelson

    What was happening in those families?

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  14. After much soul-searching, I decided to take my husband's name after we were married. For all the reasons you stated in your post. Perhaps it had something to do with tradition, as well; my mother took my father's last name. Ironically, she was sad when I told her I had decided to change my name, since she had become so used to it as our family name!

    A side bonus in changing my last name was that I lost an apostrophe. FTW - Scantrons used to be a nightmare. You think a hyphen is trouble? Try an apostrophe...

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