Hispanic-Americans Naming Customs

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Posted on: November 23rd, 2018by Elizabeth Henderson

The Hispanic-Americans mostly follow the naming customs that have long been practiced in Spain. This culture is shared among all the Hispanic groups spread across the world, especially in South America. Like any other culture, the Hispanics begin with given names. There is not specific rule that guides the process of coming up with a given name. The culture seems not to put any special attention on the nature of the given names. Hence, the given names can be composite or simple in structure. The naming customs of the Hispanic people become very evident in their second names. The surnames follow a specific pattern as determined by the culture.

The Hispanics give two surnames for their babies. Usually, the first surname originates from the father's side. For example, the baby would take the first surname of the father to act as his or her first second name. Moreover, the second surname would be the mother's first second name. This order is not strict as it is also determined by the circumstances surrounding the birth of the baby. This naming custom appreciates the importance of both the mother and the father in the life of the newborn. I find it much better than the naming custom from other cultures where the baby is only identified through the paternal lineage.

The custom of giving three second names may have contributed to the compound nature of the Hispanic names. In most cases, the first two names are called out together, making them appear as if they are one name. One of the most common compound names in this culture is Jos' Luis. Usually, Jos' is the first name, and Luis is the paternal first second name. This individual would have the second maternal surname to complete his identity. For instance, the name in full would be Jos' Luis Antonio. In cases where the baby is given two first names, it would end up with four names. The name Mar'a Clara Bravo Clara is the compound first name; Bravo is the first second name whose origin if from the father; while Bernal is the first second name from the mother. It would be wrong for this baby to be simply called Mar'a in a casual conversation. The proper approach is to call her Mar'a Clara.

The dropping of surnames to adopt the surname of the husband is a common practice cross most cultures in the US and the world. Some women feel the need to identify with their marital families by adopting the husbands' surnames. This practice is also common in the Hispanic culture. Nevertheless, the naming custom of this group makes this practice a little different from the other cultures. In the Hispanic culture, when a woman gets married, she has the choice to drop one of the surnames. The culture dictates that should that be the case, then it is the maternal surname to go. In essence, the young woman will only be delinking herself from the mother and adding on the husband's identity. She has a choice to make between the husband's maternal and the paternal second names. However, the first priority is given to the paternal second name, unless there is a compelling family history or some pride attached to the maternal second name. When the young woman becomes a new mom, her first second name and that of the husband will be transferred to the baby regardless of the gender. This naming custom ensures that the surnames stay in the family as they are passed down from one generation to the other.

The Hispanic groups have traditional first names that are shared across the culture. This is probably why a Hispanic American would have a similar surname to the Hispanics in Spain, Brazil, or Mexico. Frequently, the new mothers only look up the common Hispanic names to give to their children. In addition, the names are also picked from the family members. For example, a new mom would decide to give her son a first name that belonged to her father as a way of cherishing his memory. The other aspect of the custom is where the baby boy would be given the first name of the father; especially when he is the only son in the family. In essence, the first two names would be a carbon copy of the father except for the last surname which comes from the mother.

The naming custom among the Hispanic-Americans is partly influenced by the general American culture. In the US, names are popularized through popular programs and celebrities. This trend seems to have been picked by the Hispanic-Americans as well. This emerging American culture has seen non-traditional Spanish names grow in popularity among the Hispanic-Americans. The Spanish telenovelas have helped popularize some non-traditional names through their programs. Mostly, these are the names given to the main characters in the play. An example is the British name Vanessa. This name has found its popularity among the Hispanic-Americans due to the character of Vanessa acted by Lucia Mendez; one of the most accomplished Mexican actress.

The Hispanic-Americans have preserved most of their naming customs to maintain their identity. Despite their interaction with other American cultures, the Hispanics remain the group with one of the most complex naming customs. The most complex aspect of their naming custom is the way they chose the surnames for their newborns. The fact that they even have two surnames makes their naming system even more unique. In America, first names are shared across many cultures. However, the Hispanics seems to have retained most of the Spanish first names; which make their names stand out in the society. To some degree, the community is susceptible to an emerging trend in America where new moms go for names as popularized by television characters and famous actors. Even so, the popular names are mostly from the Spanish culture with a few from other cultures being picked up by the new moms.

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