Friday, February 1, 2008

Proposal for a Naming system

This has been brewing in my head for ages, but I never got around to doing anything about it. Well, a week ago Sunday Morning on CBC radio had a whole discussion about the way women do or do not keep their names after marriage.
So I finally got around to writing it out, and then of course promptly forgot to send it in to the radio.
Can you spell ADD? I am not sure it exists, but if it does I have it. 

Anyway, here goes.

Dear Sunday Morning,
Thanks for bringing up the topic of name changes.

May I propose an elegant and egalitarian solution to the problem? It has the added advantage of showing relationships in today's blended families.

The Kootenays region in B.C. has been a hotbed of egalitarian good intentions. Children with double names are legion. They are now young adults, and it is time to start wondering how to blend the blended. We cannot saddle children with 4 names for the sake of equality!

So here is an idea that honors both the mother line and the father line, while still remaining doable.

Double names become the norm, as follows.
At marriage both partners take each other's names. But there is a twist:

In the man's double name his family's name comes last, in the wife's name it is hers.
We cannot carry all our ancestors' names on our shoulders, something has to give.

In the next generation the girls drop Dad's name but keep Mom's.
They replace Dad's name with the husband's father's name.
The boys drop Mom's name and replace it with the wife's mother's name.
We end up with a clear female line and a clear male line.

Last names for the examples are plucked from the local phone book.

When Janet Popoff marries Harold Smith, he becomes Harold Popoff-Smith while she becomes Janet Smith-Popoff. So far so good. We already have people doing exactly that. Their sons are Popoff-Smith like Dad, their daughters Smith-Popoff like Mom.

There. That wasn't so hard was it?

In the next generation we get to deal with people who are already doubled.

When the sons marry they keep the father line. So they drop Popoff and keep Smith.
Daughters keep the mother line. So they drop Smith and keep Popoff.

John Popoff-Smith marries Celine Tremblay-Anderson.
John and sons will be known as Anderson-Smith.
Celine and daughters will be Smith-Anderson.

The Popoff and Tremblay heritage lives on in their siblings of the opposite sex if there are any.

John's sister Heather dropped Smith but kept Popoff.
When she married Justin Taylor-Wong she and her daughters became Wong-Popoff.
If Celine has brothers they keep Tremblay going. And so on.

In the case of divorce couples trade middle names with the new partner, the kids stay as they were.

Heather Wong-Popoff ends up ditching Justin, and re-marrying Alex McClean-Johnson. She now goes through life as Heather Johnson-Popoff.

When Alex talks to a teacher about his stepson Nic, the relationship is clear in the names.
Alex Popoff-Johnson and Nic Popoff-Wong obviously share the woman in their lives, but are not father and son.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but people should be smart enought to figure it out.

Though I am glad it has not started yet, since my offspring would have been van Houten-van der Hout.

1 comment:

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Interesting! Fortunately as a double named person I didn't have children to have to test this.

It is probably as valid as any other naming system. Take my maiden name of Binford. It probably was shortened down from Bin on the Ford meaning the man that kept the grain bins on the ford of the river. By that method I could now become Jacqui Blacklake. But people from high school would be looking for Jacqui Manzano or Jacqui Bellamah.

Some of Chinese let kids choose their own names ergo Number 1 son, etc.

Whatever it beats 9 numbers