Spanish naming customs: Wikis


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Spanish naming customs denotes the two-surname personal appellation practiced in Spain, consisting of a given name (simple or composite) and two surnames. The first surname is the father's first surname, and the second is the mother's first surname, but this traditional order is reversible per current gender equality law.

Nevertheless, the most common practice is the use of one given name and the paternal surname only, the full name being used in legal, formal, and documentary matters.


Naming system in Spain

In Spain, people bear two surnames and a name — either simple Juan (John) or composite Juan Pablo (John Paul); nonetheless, in the composite name, Pablo is not a middle name (a nonexistent concept in Spain), but part of the single name, Juan Pablo. Traditionally, a person’s first surname is the paternal surname (apellido paterno), the father’s first surname, and the second surname is the maternal surname (apellido materno), the mother's first surname. Contemporary gender equality law allows surname transposition — subject to the condition that every child must bear the surname order recorded to the Registro Civil; yet there were legal exceptions.

Each surname can also be composite, the parts usually linked by the preposition de (of) or by a hyphen. Therefore a person's name could be like Juan Pablo (name) Fernández de Calderón (first, paternal, surname) García-Iglesias (second, maternal, surname).

Therefore, José Antonio Calderón Iglesias is addressed as Señor Calderón (Mr Calderón), not Señor Iglesias (Mr Iglesias), because Calderón is his paternal surname — not a middle name — because Spanish naming customs do not comprehend the Anglophone middle name concept. Furthermore, Mr Calderón might be informally addressed as (i) José Antonio (Joseph Anthony), (ii) José (Joseph), (iii) Pepe, (iv) Antonio (Anthony), and (v) Toño (Tony). In the reductive Anglophone naming custom, Spanish-named people sometimes hyphenate their surnames, to avoid Anglophone confusion, thus: Mr. José Antonio Calderón-Iglesias; moreover, hyphenated () surnames, such as Súarez-Llanos, do not indicate nobility.



Parents choose their child’s name, which must be recorded to the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) to establish his or her legal identity.[1] With few restrictions, parents can choose any name, the most common sources of names are the parents’ taste, honouring a relative, the Roman Catholic calendar of saints nomina (nominal register), and traditional Spanish names. In that tradition, right-wing legislation in Spain under Franco, legally limited cultural naming customs to only Christian (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, et al.) and typical Spanish names (Antonio, Laura, et al.). At present, the only naming limitation is the dignity of the child — who cannot be given a name insulting either to him or to her or to the public. Similar limitations applied against diminutive, familiar, and colloquial variants not recognized as names proper, and "those that lead to confusion regarding sex";[2] however, the current Ley 3/2007: Identidad de género (Law 3/2007: Gender Identity)[3] allows registration of diminutive names.[4]

Spanish provincial surname concentrations: The populace percentages born with the ten most-common surnames. Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística (Spain) 2006

María and José

Catholic girls often were named María, honouring the Virgin Mary, by appending either a shrine, place, or religious-concept suffix-name to María. In quotidian life, such women omit the cumbersome "Mary of the . . ." nominal prefix, and use the suffix portion of their composite names as public identity, excepting in legal, formal, and documentary matters.

Hence, women bearing the Marian names María de los Ángeles (Mary of the Angels), María del Pilar (Mary of the Pillar), and María de la Luz (Mary of the Light), are normally addressed as Ángeles (Angels), Pilar (Pillar), and Luz (Light); however, each might be informally addressed as María (Mary); also, parents could plainly name a girl “María”, without the gilt edge. Like-wise, a boy’s formal name might include María, when preceded by a masculine name, e.g. José María Aznar (Joseph Mary Aznar), conversely, a girl can be formally named María José (Mary Joseph), and informally named Marijosé (Mary Jo), so honouring Saint Joseph. Moreover, the name María is orthographically abbreviated as M. (José M. Aznar), Ma. (José Ma. Aznar), and (José Mª Morelos).

Registered names

The Registro Civil (Civil Registry) officially records a child’s identity as composed of a name (simple or composite) and the two surnames; however, a child can be baptized with several names, e.g. the Infanta Elena’s son, Felipe Juan Froilán de Todos los Santos; such namings usually are a royal family and nobility practice without legal sanction.

The maiden name

In Spain, upon marrying, the woman does not change her surnames to adopt her husband’s, because Spanish naming customs do not comprehend the maiden name concept — thus, when Leocadia Blanco Álvarez marries Pedro Pérez Montilla, she retains her original name Leocadia Blanco Álvarez. Moreover, in chapter V, part 2 of Don Quixote (1605, 1615), Teresa Panza broaches this matter by reminding husband Sancho that, properly, she should be addressed as Teresa Cascajo, by her paternal surname, not her marital surname, to wit: “Teresa I was named in baptism, a clean and short name, without addings or embellishments, or furnishings of dons and dans; ‘Cascajo’ was my father; and I, as your wife, am called ‘Teresa Panza’, but laws are executed”.[5]

Surname distribution: The most common surnames, by residential Spanish province.


Generational transmission

In the generational transmission of surnames, the paternal surname’s precedence eventually eliminates the maternal surnames from the family lineage. Contemporary law allows the maternal surname to be given precedence, but most people observe the traditional paternal–maternal surname order. So the daughter and son of Ángela López Sáenz and Tomás Portillo Blanco are usually called Laura Portillo López and Pedro Portillo López, but also could be called Laura López Portillo and Pedro López Portillo. Regardless of the surname order, all children's surnames must be in the same order when recorded to the Registro Civil.

Patrilineal surname transmission was not always the norm in Spanish speaking societies. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, when the current paternal-maternal surname combination norm came into existence, Hispanophone societies often practised matrilineal surname transmission, giving children the maternal surname, and, occasionally, gaving children a grandparent's surname (borne by neither parent) for prestige — “being gentry”, and profit, flattering the matriarch or the patriarch in hope of inheriting land. As with Catalan names, the Spanish naming customs include the orthographic option of conjoining the surnames with the conjunction particle “y” (“and"), e.g. José Ortega y Gasset and Tomás Portillo y Blanco, following an antiquated aristocratic usage.

Not every surname is a single word; such conjoining usage is common to doubled surnames (maternal-paternal), ancestral composite surnames willed to the following generation(s) — especially when the paternal surname is socially undistinguished, e.g. ex-mayor of Madrid José María Álvarez del Manzano y López del Hierro, whose name comprises a composite (two-word) single name (José María) and two composite surnames (Álvarez del Manzano and López del Hierro); other examples derive from church place-names such as San José (Saint Joseph), thus, when a person bears doubled surnames, the disambiguation is to insert the conjunction particle y (“and”) betwixt the paternal and maternal surnames.

In case of bastardy — when the child’s father either is unknown or refuses to legally recognise his son or daughter — the child will bear the mother’s surnames; thus, if María López Sáenz bears a son, José, by such a man, the boy’s surnames would be López and Sáenz, hence he would be José López Sáenz. Occasionally, a person with a common paternal surname and an uncommon maternal surname becomes widely known by the maternal surname, e.g. the artist Picasso (Pablo Ruiz Picasso), the poet Lorca (Federico García Lorca), and the politician Zapatero (José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero). Conversely, the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Hughes Galeano is known by (and as) Galeano (his maternal surname), because his British paternal surname "Hughes" is not Spanish, although, as a boy, he occasionally signed his name as Eduardo Gius, a Spanish-approximate pronunciation of the English “Hughes” surname.

Nevertheless, the legal last name in Spanish speaking countries is always formed by the first and the second last names all together, or only by the first last name alone. The use of the second last name by itself is colloquial, and it should never be used in a legal way; e.g. the legal last name of the famous Nobel laureate writer Gabriel García Márquez is "García Márquez" or just "García", but he should never be legally addressed only as "Márquez".

Castilian and Álavan surnames

Where the Basque and Romance cultures linguistically cohabit, the surnames denote the father’s name and the (family) house; thus the Romantic patronymic and the place-name are conjoined with the prepositional particle de (“from”, “provenance”), thus in the name José Ignacio López de Arriortúa — the (composite) surname López de Arriortúa is a simple surname, (despite Arriortúa being the original family-name). This is a possibly confusing usage, because the Spanish López and the Basque de Arriortúa are discrete surnames in the Basque and Romance cultures.

Nominal conjunctions

The particle “de” (from)

In Spanish, the preposition particle de (“of”) is used as a conjunction in two surname spelling styles, and to disambiguate a surname. The first style is in patronymic and toponymic spelling formulæ,[6] e.g. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, Pero López de Ayala, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa, as in many conquistador names.[7]

Unlike in French, the Spanish spellings of surnames containing the prepositional particle de are ambiguous without a preceding patronymic, an orthographic style common to noble surnames, thus, the lower-case spellings de la Rúa (“of the street") and de la Torre (“of the tower”) and the upper-case spellings De la Rúa and De la Torre are equally correct.

Without a patronymic
Juan Carlos de Borbón. Unlike in French, Spanish orthography does not require a contraction when a vowel begins the surname, but de el (“of the”) becomes del, e.g. Carlos Arturo del Monte (Charles Arthur of the Mountain).
The patronymic exception
The current (1958) Spanish name law, Artículo 195 del Reglamento del Registro Civil (Article 195 of the Civil Registry Regulations) disallows a person’s prefixing the de particle to his or her surname — the exception is the clarifying addition of de to a surname (apellido) that might be misunderstood as a name (nombre);[8] thus, a child would be registered as Pedro de Miguel Jiménez, to avoid the surname Miguel being mistaken as the second part of a composite name, as Pedro Miguel.

Bearing the de particle does not necessarily denote a noble family, especially in Castile and Alava, the de usually applied to the place-name (town or village) from which the person and his or her ancestors originated; however, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the usage of de spread as a way of denoting the bearer’s noble heritage to avoid the misperception that he or she is either a Jew or a Moor. In that time, many people, regardless of their true origins, claimed the right to use the particle, e.g. Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega, et al.; moreover, following that fashion, high nobles, such as Francisco Sandoval Rojas, called himself Francisco de Sandoval y Rojas. During the eighteenth century, the Spanish nobility fully embraced the French custom of using de as a nobility identifier, however, commoners also bore the de particle, which made the de usages unclear, thus nobility was emphasised with the surname’s lineage.

The particle “y” (and)

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish adopted the copulative conjunction y (“and”) to distinguish a person’s surnames; thus the Andalusian Baroque writer Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561–1627), the Aragonese painter Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), the Andalusian artist Pablo Diego Ruiz y Picasso (1881-1973), and the Madrilenian liberal philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955). In Hispanic America, this spelling convention was common to clergymen (e.g. Salvadoran Bishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez), and sanctioned by the Ley de Registro Civil (Civil Registry Law) of 1870, requiring birth certificates indicating the paternal and maternal surnames conjoined with y — thus, Felipe González y Márquez and José María Aznar y López are the respective true names of the Spanish politicians Felipe González Márquez and José María Aznar López; however, unlike in Catalan, the Spanish usage is infrequent.

The conjunction y avoids denominational confusion when the paternal surname might appear to be a (first) name; hence the physiologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal might appear to be named Santiago Ramón (composite) and surnamed Cajal, like-wise the jurist Francisco Tomás y Valiente, and the cleric Vicente Enrique y Tarancón. Without the conjunction, the footballer Rafael Martín Vázquez, known as Martín Vázquez (his surnames) mistakenly appears to be named Martín rather than Rafael, whilst, to his annoyance, the linguist Fernando Lázaro Carreter occasionally was addressed as Don Lázaro, rather than as Fernando.

Moreover, when the maternal surname’s begins with an i vowel sound, written with either the vowel I (Ibarra), the vowel Y (Ybarra archaic spelling) or the combination Hi + consonant (Higueras), Spanish euphony substitutes the softer-sounded conjunction e in place of the sharper-sounded conjunction y, thus the examples of the Spanish statesman Eduardo Dato e Iradier (1856–1921).


To communicate a person’s social identity, Spanish naming customs provide orthographic means, such as suffix-letter abbreviations, surname spellings, and place names, which denote and connote the person’s place in society.

Identity and descent

h. (son of): A man named like his father, might append the lower-case suffix h. (denoting hijo, son) to his surname, thus distinguishing himself, Juan Valdéz Marcos, h., from his father, Juan Valdéz Marcos; the English analogue is “Jr.” (son).

–ez: Spanish surnames ending in -ez originated as patronymics denoting “the son of” — Álvarez (son of Álvaro), Fernández (son of Fernando), González (son of Gonzalo), Hernández (son of Hernando), López (son of Lope), Martínez (son of Martín), Ramírez (son of Ramiro), Rodríguez (son of Rodrigo), and Sánchez (son of Sancho) — yet not every such surname was patronymic, because, in parts of Andalusia, the Spanish-language letters z and s are pronounced alike. In Hispano American Spanish, the -ez spellings of Chávez (Hugo Chávez) and Cortez (Alberto Cortez) are not patronymic surnames, because the Iberian Spanish spelling is with -es, as in the names of Manuel Chaves González and Hernán Cortés.

  • Álvarez = son of Álvar, Álvaro
  • Antúnez = Antón, Antonio
  • Benéitez, Benítez = Benito
  • Díaz = Diego
  • Domínguez = Domingo
  • Estévez = Esteve, Estevo, Esteban
  • Fernández = Fernando
  • Giménez, Jiménez, Ximénez = Gimeno, Jimeno, Ximeno
  • González = Gonzalo
  • Hernández = Hernando
  • López = Lope
  • Márquez = Marco, Marcos
  • Míguez, Miguélez = Miguel
  • Martínez = Martín
  • Peláez = Pelayo
  • Rodríguez = Rodrigo
  • Ramírez = Ramiro
  • Sánchez = Sancho
  • Velázquez = Velasco


Anonymous foundlings were a naming problem for civil registrars, but such anonymous children often were named for the saint whose day it was when he or she appeared at the Registro Civil (Civil Registry), if not, they might be named toponymically, after the town, itself. Moreover, they also often were surnamed Expósito (Lat. exposĭtus, “exposed”, connoting “foundling”), which marked them, and their descendants, as of low caste and social class, people without social pedigree. In the Catalan language the surname Deulofeu (“God made it”) was usually given to foundlings. In 1921 Spanish law allowed the surname Expósito to be changed free.[9] Because most foundlings were reared in church orphanages, said children often bore the surnames Iglesia (church), Iglesias (churches), Cruz (cross), and Blanco (“white” connoting “blank”). Moreover, to facilitate naming anonymous foundlings, places such as Bilbao named them Bilbao, like-wise in Vizcaya (Biscay) and Alava; the second surname usually was either Iglesia or Cruz.

Foreign citizens

In Spain, legal and illegal foreign immigrants retain use of their cultural naming customs, yet upon becoming Spanish citizens, they are legally obliged to assume Spanish-style names (a name and two surnames). If the nationalised person is from a one-surname culture, the actual surname is duplicated;[citation needed] therefore, the English name “George Albert Duran” becomes the Spanish name “George Albert Durán Durán”, yet the law optionally allows him to adopt his mother's maiden name (her surname), as his maternal (second) surname. Formally, Spanish naming customs conflate his name “George” and his middle-name “Albert” to the composite name “George Albert”, and his sole surname, “Duran”, is duplicated as his paternal and maternal surnames.

Spanish hypocoristics and nicknames

Many Spanish names can be shortened into hypocoristic, affectionate "child-talk" forms using a diminutive suffix, especially -ito and -cito (masculine) and -ita and -cita (feminine). Sometimes longer than the person’s name, a nickname usually derives via linguistic rules.[10] The usages vary by country and region; these are some usual names and their nicknames:

  • Adelina = Deli
  • Adelaida = Ade, Adela
  • Adrián (Male) or Adriana (Female) = Adri
  • Alberto = Alber, Albertito, Beto, Berto, Tico, Tuco
  • Alejandro = Ale, Alex, Alejo, Jandro, Jano, Sandro
  • Alejandra = Sandra, Ale, Alex, Aleja, Jandra, Jana
  • Alfonso = Alfon, Fon, Fonso, Fonsi, Poncho
  • Alicia = Ali, Licha
  • Anacleto = Cleto
  • Antonio = Antón, Tonio, Toni, Tono, Toño, Toñin, Antoñito, Antuco, Antuquito
  • Antonia = Toña, Tona, Toñi, Tonia, Tania, Antoñita
  • Arturo = Arturito, Turito, Art
  • Beatriz = Bea, Betty
  • Benjamin = Ben, Benja, Benjas
  • Cándido/a = Candi
  • Carla = Carlita
  • Carlos = Car, Carlito, Carlitos, Carlo, Calín, Litos, Chepe
  • Carmen = Mamen, Carmenchu, Menchu, Carmencha, Carmencita, Carmelita, Carmela, Carmina
  • Carolina = Caro, Carol, Carito
  • Cecilia = Ceci, Chila, Chili
  • Celestino = Tino
  • César = Cesi, Cesa, Checha, Cesito
  • Charles = Carles
  • Ciro = Cirino
  • Claudia = Clau, Claudi
  • Concepción = Conchi, Conchita, Concha, Conce, Cione
  • Consuelo = Consu, Chelo, Coni, Concha
  • Covadonga = Cova, Cobi
  • Cristian = Cris
  • Cristina = Cris, Cristi, Tina
  • Cristóforo = Cuco, Chosto
  • Cruz = Crucita, Chuz
  • Dalila = Lila
  • Dalia = Dali
  • Daniel = Dani
  • David = Davo, Davilo
  • Dolores = Lola, Loles, Loli, Lolita
  • Eduardo = Edu, Lalo, Eduardito, Guayo
  • Enrique = Quique, Kike
  • Ernesto = Neto, Netico, Tito
  • Esperanza = Espe, Pera, Lancha
  • Eugenia = Genita
  • Eugenio = Genín, Genito
  • Eva = Evita
  • Federico = Quico, Kiko, Fede
  • Felícita = Felacha
  • Fernanda = Fer, Nanda
  • Fernando = Fer, Nando, Nano, Ferny, Feña, Fercho
  • Francisco = Fran, Paco, Sisco, Cisco, Curro, Quico, Kiko, Frasco, Frascuelo, Pacho, Pancho, Panchito
  • Francisca = Fran, Paqui, Paquita, Sisca, Cisca, Pancha, Curra, Paca, Quica, Panchita, Panchi
  • Gabriel = Gabi, Gabo, Gabri
  • Gabriela = Gaba, Gabi, Gaby
  • Gerardo = Gera, Yayo, Lalo
  • Gonzalo = Gonza, Gon, Gonchi, Lalo, Chalo, Talo, Tali
  • Graciela = Chela
  • Gregorio = Goyo
  • Gricelda = Gris, Celda
  • Guadalupe = Lupe (female & male), Guada, Pupe, Lupita, Lupilla (female) & Lupito, Lupillo (male), Pita (female)
  • Guillermo = Guille, Guiller, Willy, Meme, Momo, Memo
  • Héctor = Tito, Torin
  • Ignacia = Nacha
  • Ignacio = Nacho, Nachito, Naco
  • Inocencio = Chencho
  • Isabel = Bela, Chabela, Chavela, Chavelita, Chabelita, Isa
  • Jacobo = Cobo, Yaco, Yago
  • Javier = Javi, Jabo, Javito
  • Jorge = Jorgecito, Jorgis, Jordi, Jorgito, Gorge, Jecito
  • Jesús = Jesu, Chus, Chucho, Chuy, Suso, Chuyito
  • Jesús Alberto = Jesusbeto, Chuybeto
  • Jesus María = Chumari, Chusma
  • Jesús Manuel = Jesusma
  • Jesús Ramón = Jerra, Jesusrra, Chuymoncho, Chuymonchi
  • Jesusa = Susi, Sus, Chusa, Chucha, Chuy, Chuyita
  • José = Pepe, Chepe, Pepito, Chepito, Pito, Pepín
  • Josefa = Pepa, Pepi, Pepita, Fina, Fini, Finita
  • José Carlos = Joseca
  • José Luis = Joselo, Joselu, Pepelu
  • José Miguel = Josemi, Jomi, Chemi
  • Josefina = Jose, Fina, Chepina, Chepita
  • José María = Chema, Chemari, Jose Mari
  • José Manuel = Chema, Mané, Memel
  • José Ramón = Peperamon, Joserra
  • Juan = Juanito, Juancho, Juanelo
  • Juan Carlos = Juanca, Juancar, Juanqui
  • Juan Ernesto = Juaner
  • Juan Esteban = Juanes
  • Juan Fernando = Juanfer
  • Juan Javier = Juanja
  • Juan Manuel = Juanma
  • Juan Miguel = Juangui, Juanmi
  • Juan Pablo = Juanpa, Juanpi, Juanpis
  • Juan Ramón = Juanra
  • Julio = Julín, Julito
  • Laura = Lalita, Lala, Lauri, Lauris, Lau
  • Leticia = Leti
  • Lourdes = Lulú
  • Lucía = Lucy
  • Luciano = Chano
  • Luis = Lucho, Luisito, Güicho, Luisín
  • Magdalena = Magda, Malena, Lena, Leni
  • Manuel = Manu, Manolo, Lolo, Manolito, Meño, Manuelito
  • Marcelo = Chelo, Marce
  • Margarita = Marga, Magui
  • María Aurora = Marora
  • María Auxiliadora = Chilo, Mauxi, Mausi
  • María de la Luz = Mariluz
  • María de Lourdes = Malula, Marilú
  • María del Carmen = Maricarmen, Mamen, Mai, Maica, Mayca, Mayka, Mamen, Mari
  • María del Rosario = Charo, Charito
  • María del Refugio = Cuca
  • María del Sol/María de la Soledad = Marisol, Sol, Sole
  • María de las Nieves = Marinieves
  • María Eugenia = Maru, Yeni, Kena, Kenita
  • María Elena = Malena, Marilena
  • María Fernanda = Mafe, Mafer
  • María Isabel = Maribel, Mabel, Marisabel, Marisa
  • María José/María Josefa = Cote, Coté, Jose, Josefa, Mai, Majo, Mariajo, Marijó, Marijose, Maripepa, Maripepi
  • María Laura = Malala
  • María Luisa = Marisa, Mariluisa
  • María Teresa = Maritere, Maite, Mayte, Teté, Mari
  • Mario = Mayito
  • Mauricio = Mau, Mauro, Mauri
  • Máximo = Maxi, Max, Maximino
  • Mayola = May
  • Mercedes = Merce, Merche, Meche, Meches, Mechas
  • Micaela = Mica
  • Miguel = Migue
  • Minerva = Mine, Miner
  • Montserrat = Montse
  • Myriam = Myri, Miriam, Miry
  • Natividad = Nati
  • Nicolás = Nico
  • Oriana = Ori, Nana, Nanita, Ana, Anita
  • Pablo = Pablito, Pablete
  • Paloma = Palo
  • Paula = Pau
  • Paulina = Pau, Pauli
  • Paola = Pao
  • Patricia = Patri, Tricia, Pato
  • Patricio = Pato, Patric
  • Pedro = Pedrito, Perico
  • Pilar = Pili, Pilarín, Piluca
  • Rafael = Rafa, Rafi, Rafo
  • Ramón = Mon, Moncho, Monchi, Ramoncito, Pocholo
  • Raúl = Rauli, Raulito, Rul, Rulo, Rule, Ral, Rali
  • Refugio = Cuca, Cuquita
  • Remedios = Reme
  • Ricardo = Rica
  • Rodolfo = Fitos
  • Rodrigo = Rodri, Ruy, Roy, Ro
  • Roberto = Robe, Rober, Berto, Robertito, Tito, Beto
  • Rosalía = Chalia
  • Rosalva = Chava
  • Rosario = Charo, Chayo, Chayito
  • Rocío = Roci, Chio, Ro
  • Salomón = Salo
  • Salvador = Salva, Chava, Chavito
  • Santiago = Santi, Yago, Diejo, Chago, Tiago
  • Sergio = Chucho, Checo, Chejo, Checho, Sergi
  • Soledad = Sol, Sole, Chole, Chol
  • Susana = Susi, Sus, Su
  • Teresa = Tere, Teresita
  • Timoteo = Timo, Teín
  • Tomás = Tomasito, Tomasín, Tomy
  • Valentina = Val, Vale, Tina, Tinita, Valentinita
  • Vicente = Chente, Vicen, Bicho, Sento
  • Victor, Victorio = Vic, Vis, Vico
  • Victoria = Vico, Viqui, Viky, Vicky
  • Verónica = Vero, Verito, Veru
  • Yolanda = Yoli

Spain’s other languages

The recognition of Spain’s co-official languagesCatalan, Basque, Galician — legally allowed the autonomous communities to re-establish their vernacular social identity via the translation and re-spelling of names from Spanish-castilian to their original languages.

Basque names

See also: Basque language and Basque surname

The territories under the influence of Basque culture, mainly the Basque Country and Navarre, usually follow Spanish naming customs. Not necessarily a bilingual Basque-Spanish speaker will bear a Basque name, and a monolingual Spanish speaker can use a Basque name or a Basque hypocoristic of a official Spanish name. However, two observations are important:

(i) some Basque-language names and surnames are foreign transliterations into the Basque tongue, e.g. Ander (English: “Andrew”; Spanish: Andrés), Iñaki (English: “Ignatius”; Spanish: Ignacio), and Ane (English: “Anne”; Spanish: Ana). In some cases, the name’s original-language denotation is translated to Basque, i.e. Zutoia and Zedarri, denote the Spanish Pilar (English: “Pillar”). Moreover, some Basque names, such as Xabier and Eneko (English “Xavier” and “Inigo”) have been transliterated into Spanish (Javier and Íñigo). Recently, Basque names without a direct equivalent in other languages have become popular, e.g. Aitor (a legendary patriarch), Odei (“cloud”), Iker (“to investigate”), and Amaia (“the end”); finally, other Basque names, without a current direct Spanish meaning, are unique to the Basque language: Eneko, Garikoitz, Urko. Basque names, rather than Spanish names, are preponderant[citation needed] in the Basque Country, countering the Spanish-name imposition of the Franco régime requiring only Spanish names; after Franco’s death and the democratic restoration, many Basque adults changed their Spanish names to the Basque equivalent, e.g. from Miguel to Mikel. A source for modern Basque names is Sabino Arana's Deun-Ixendegi Euzkotarra ("Basque saint-name collection", published in 1910). Instead of the traditional adaptations of Romance names, he proposed others he made up and that in his opinion were truer to the originals and adapted to the Basque phonology. For example, his brother Luis became Koldobika, from Frankish Hlodwig. The traditional Peru (from Spanish "Pedro"), Pello or Piarres (from French "Pierre"), all meaning "Peter", became Kepa from Aramaic כיפא (Kepha). He believed that the suffix -[n]e was inherently feminine, and new names like Nekane ("pain"+ne,"Dolores") or Garbine ("clean"+ne, "Immaculate [Conception]") are frequent among Basque females.

Basque surnames usually denoted the patronymic house of the bearer; e.g. Etxebarria —“New house”, etxe (house) + barri (new), denotes “related to a so-named farmhouse”; in the same way, Garaikoetxea — “house in the heights”, garai (“height”) + etxe (“house”). Sometimes, surnames denoted not the house itself but a characteristic of the place, e.g. Saratxaga — “willow-place”, saratze (“willow”) + -aga (“place of”); Loyola, loi (“mud”) + ola (“iron smithery”); Arriortua —"stone orchard", harri ("stone") + ortua ("orchard"). Before the 20th century all Basquemen were considered nobles (indeed, some Basque surnames, e.g. Irujo, were related to some of the oldest Spanish noble families), and many of them used their status to emigrate with privileges to other regions of the Spanish Empire, especially the Americas, due to which some Basque surnames became common to the Spanish-American world; e.g. Mendoza — “Cold Mountain”, mendi + hotza (mountain+cold); Salazar — “Old hall”, sala + zahar (hall+old). Until 1978, Spanish was the single official language of the Spanish civil registries and Basque surnames had to be registered according to the Spanish phonetical rules (for example, the Spanish "ch" sound merges the Basque "ts", "tx" or "tz", and someone whose surname in Standard Basque would be "Krutxaga" would have to write it as "Cruchaga", letter "k" also not being used in Spanish); although the democratic restoration ended with this policy, allowing surnames to be officially changed into their Basque version, there still are many people who hold Spanish-written Basque surnames, even in the same family: a father born before 1978 would be surnamed "Echepare" and his children, "Etxepare". This policy even changed the usual pronunciation of some basque surnames. For instance, in Basque letter "z" maintained a sibilant "s"-like sound, while Spanish changed it; thus, a surname such as "Zabala" should be properly read similar to "sabala" (IPA /zæbɑlɑ/), although in Spanish, because of the "z" denotes a "th" sound (IPA /θ/), it would be read as "Tha-bala" (IPA /θa.bala/). However, since letter "z" exists in Spanish, the registries did not force the Zabalas to transliterate their surname, although any non-basque speaking reader would latter read Zabala as if it were to be pronounced in the Spanish fashion.

In Biscay and Guipuzcoa, it was not common[citation needed] to take a surname from the place (town or village) where one resided, unless one was a foundling. Basque compound surnames were created with two discrete surnames, e.g. ElorduizapaterietxeElordui + Zapaterietxe, a practice denoting family allegiances or the equal importance of both families. This custom sometimes conduced to incredibly long surnames, for compound surnames could be used to create others; for example, the longest surname recorded in Spain is Basque, Burionagonatotoricagageazcoechea", formed by Buriona+ Gonatar + Totorika + Beazcoetxea.

(ii) Finally, the nationalist leader Sabino Arana pioneered a naming custom of transposing the name-surname order to what he thought was the proper Basque language syntax order; e.g. the woman named Miren Zabala would be referred to as Zabalatar Miren — the surname first, plus the “-tar” suffix denoting “from a place”, and then the name —; thus Zabalatar Miren means “Miren, of the Zabala family”. The change in the order is effected because in the Basque tongue, declined words (such as Zabalatar) that apply to a noun are uttered before the noun itself; other example would be his pen name Arana ta Goiritar Sabin. This Basque naming custom was used in nationalist literature, not in formal, official documents wherein the Castilian naming convention is observed.

Catalan names

The Catalan-speaking territories also abide the Spanish naming customs, yet the discrete surnames usually are joined with the letter i (“and"), instead of the Spanish y, e.g. Pasqual Maragall i Mira, ex-president of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia). Furthermore, the national language policy enumerated in Artículo 19.1 de la Ley 1/1998 (Article 19.1 of Law 1/1998) stipulates that “the citizens of Catalonia have the right to use the proper regulation of their Catalan names and surnames and to introduce the conjunction between surnames”.

The correction, translation, and surname-change are regulated by the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) with Decreto 139/2007 del 26 de junio (Decree 138/2007 of 26 June), modifying Decreto 208/1998 del 30 de julio (Decree 208/1998 of 30 July), which regulates the accreditation of the linguistic correctness of names. The attributes and functions of Decree 138/2007 of 26 July, regulate the issuance of language-correction certificates for translated Catalan names, by the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Institute of Catalan Studies) in Barcelona. Nevertheless, there are Catalan surnames that conform to neither the current spelling rules nor to the traditionally correct Catalan spelling rules; a language-correction certification can be requested from the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, for names such as these:[11]

  • Piñol to Pinyol
  • Farré to Ferrer
  • Gabarra to Gavarró
  • Casas to Cases
  • Perpiñá to Perpinyà
  • Jufré to Jofré
  • Pijuan to Pijoan
  • Roselló to Rosselló

Catalan hypocoristics and nicknames

Many Catalan names are shortened to hypocoristic forms using only the final portion of the name (unlike Spanish, which mostly uses only the first portion of the name), and with a diminutive suffix; example Catalan names are:

  • Antoni = Toni
  • Bartomeu = Tomeu
  • Dolors = Lloll, Dolo
  • Concepció = Ció
  • Eulàlia = Laia
  • Francesc = Cesc, Quico, Xesco, Xisco
  • Isabel = Bel
  • Joaquim = Quim, Ximo
  • Joaquima = Quima
  • Josefina = Fina, Fineta
  • Josep = Pep
  • Madgalena = Magda
  • Manel = Nelo
  • Meritxell = Meri, Txell
  • Mariona = Ona
  • Montserrat = Serrat, Montse
  • Narcís = Narciset, Ciset
  • Núria = Nuri
  • Vicent = Vicentó, Cento
  • Xavier = Xavi

Galician names

The Galician-speaking areas also abide the Spanish naming customs. The only difference would be the usage of Galicianized given names.

  • Ángel = Anxo
  • Antonio = Antón
  • Eugenia = Uxía
  • Joaquín = Xaquín
  • José = Xosé
  • Luis = Lois
  • Manuel = Manoel

"Mohamed" as name and surname

As the provincial Surname distribution map (above) indicates, Mohamed is an oft-occurring surname; the autonomous Mediterranean North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla respectively registered 10,410 and 7,982 occurrences.[12] Hispanophone Muslims use the Spanish "Mohamed" spelling for “Muhammad”. As such, it often is a component of Arabic names for men; hence, many Ceutan and Melillan Muslims share surnames despite not sharing a common ancestry. Furthermore, Mohamed (Muhammad) is the most popular name for new-born boys,[13] thus it is not unusual to encounter a man named Mohamed Mohamed Mohamed: the first occurrence is the name, the second occurrence is the paternal surname, the third occurrence is the maternal surname.[14]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Registro Civil in Spain
  2. ^ Rules applying in the name registering process in Spain
  3. ^ Ley 3/2007, de 15 de marzo, reguladora de la rectificación registral de la mención relativa al sexo de las personas: "Para garantizar el derecho de las personas a la libre elección del nombre propio, se deroga la prohibición de inscribir como nombre propio los diminutivos o variantes familiares y coloquiales que no hayan alcanzado sustantividad".
  4. ^ El Periódico, Una familia puede por fin inscribir a su hijo como Pepe tras dos años de papeleo, 17 April 2007.
  5. ^ Text available at s:Don Quixote/Volume 2/Chapter V
  6. ^ Cardenas y Allende, Francisco de; Escuela de genealogía, Heráldica y Nobiliaria (1984). Apuntes de nobiliaria y nociones de genealogía y heráldica: Primer curso. (2nd ed.). Madrid: Editorial Hidalguía. pp. 205–213. ISBN 9788400056698. 
  7. ^ Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente de (1976). Heráldica patronímica española y sus patronímicos compuestos: Ensayo heráldico de apellidos originados en los nombres. Madrid: Hidalguía. ISBN 8400042794. 
  8. ^ Article 195, Reglamento del Registro Civil: "On petition of the interested party, before the person in charge of the registry, the particle de shall be placed before the paternal surname that is usually a first name or begins with one."
  9. ^
  10. ^ Margarita Espinosa Meneses, De Alfonso a Poncho y de Esperanza a Lancha: los Hipocorísticos, Razón Y Palabra, 2001
  11. ^ Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Normalització de noms i cognoms (Catalan)
  12. ^ Territorial distribution of surnames (Register data on 1-Jan-2006). (People born to that first surname) + (people with it as second surname) — (people named "Mohamed Mohamed")
  13. ^ Most frequent names by date of birth and province of birth Born in the 2000s, 78,4 per mille in Ceuta, 74,3 per mille in Melilla
  14. ^ Luis Gómez, "El polvorín de Ceuta". El País, 18 May 2007

External links


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