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FutureStarrWhat Is a Surnameor
A surname is a name given to a person to distinguish them from other people with the same name. For centuries in Europe, a surname often reflected a person's occupation. For example, Garside was a name generally given to a coal or charcoal burner.
Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person's full name, as the forename, or at the end; the number of surnames given to an individual also varies. As the surname indicates genetic inheritance, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames or there may be variations; for example, a woman might marry and have a child, but later remarry and have another child by a different father, and as such both children could have different surnames. It is common to see two or more words in a surname, such as in compound surnames. Compound surnames can be composed of separate names, such as in traditional Spanish culture, they can be hyphenated together, or may contain prefixes.
In the Anglophonic world, a surname is commonly referred to as the last name because it is usually placed at the end of a person's full name, after any given name. In many parts of Asia and in some parts of Europe and Africa, the family name is placed before a person's given name. In most Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries, two surnames are commonly used or, in some families, three or even more, often because of family claims to nobility. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Surnames have not always existed and are still not universal in some cultures. The tradition has arisen separately in different cultures around the world. In Europe, the concept of surnames became popular in the Roman Empire and expanded throughout the Mediterranean and Western Europe as a result. During the Middle Ages, that practice died out as Germanic, Persian and other influences took hold. During the late Middle Ages surnames gradually re-emerged, first in the form of bynames, which typically indicated an individual's occupation or area of residence, and gradually evolving into modern surnames. In China surnames have been the norm since at least the 2nd century BC.
A family name is typically a part of a person's personal name and, according to law or custom, is passed or given to children from at least one of their parents' family names. The use of family names is common in most cultures around the world, but each culture has its own rules as to how the names are formed, passed, and used. However, the style of having both a family name (surname) and a given name (forename) is far from universal (see §History below). In many cultures, it is common for people to have one name or mononym, with some cultures not using family names. In most Slavic countries and in Greece, Lithuania and Latvia, for example, there are different family name forms for male and female members of the family. Issues of family name arise especially on the passing of a name to a newborn child, the adoption of a common family name on marriage, the renunciation of a family name, and the changing of a family name. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)