Ilivetolearn's Blog

October 19, 2005

names

Filed under: Spain — ilivetolearn @ 2:11 pm

Learning Spanish has taught me that many common surnames here are adjectives—like Delgado (slim) or Moreno (dark) or Rubio (blond) or my favorite, Seisdedos (six-fingered or six-toed). I find it interesting that there seems to be no large group of last names that indicate one’s profession, as in English. I’ve been keeping a mental list for years of those– like the obvious ones (Farmer, Baker, Cook, Carter, Carver, Carpenter, Barber, Archer, Miller, Smith, Goldsmith, Weaver, Bookbinder, Wheelwright) and the more obtuse (Fletcher, Cooper, Chandler, Fuller, Crocker) and two I learned from the inflight magazine on the way here—Webster (a specialized job in the looms) and Brewster (obvious, but it never occurred to me before). The only Spanish surnames I’ve come across that have to do with a person’s work are Molina (miller), Pastor (shepherd), and Guerrero (warrior.) The most common, of course, are the patronyms…like Johnson or McDonald…here they are Alvarez (son of Alvaro), Perez, Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Nunez, etc. Does it mean something that Spaniards have historically been more apt to identify someone by his physical characteristics or who his father was than by his means of earning wages?

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