If we think about names and were to try and come up with an explanation we may come across words such as Noun, or Peter, Mary, John, Suzy etc. When we ask the question what is a surname? This narrows the answer down to a very specific area.
We could of course say things such as it is the name after the forename, or, the last name or second name. All of these things would be true, yet it would depend on exactly how the question was interpreted.
So, what is a surname?
Well, nowadays it is a legal name for identification purposes, how else would the government know who to tax? However, if each family were to trace back genealogically to discover their ancestors, the question what is a surname? would mean a whole lot more and could unlock a family history which would otherwise stay forever buried.
For example; if Mr Miller were to trace his family back to his earliest name ancestors, he would more than likely find that he were a descendant of a Miller, similarly, Mr Falconer would undoubtedly discover his family were once in the falconry business. Once we begin to work on this understanding it is not difficult to decipher the meanings behind names such as Blacksmith or Goldsmith, in fact once the mystery is unravelled it becomes a rather disappointingly simple matter of logic.
Not surprisingly the most common surname currently recorded in England is Smith. I'm sure if you ask any English person they will know or know of at least one person with the surname Smith. For The Smiths (not to be confused with the popular British band of the same name) although the can trace back their surname to an general area of trade, they would then have to rely on personal accounts to discover what kind of Smith from which they had descended, Blacksmith, Goldsmith etc.
Similarly if you asked someone from South America if they knew anyone with the surname Gonzalez or someone from North America if they knew anyone by the name of Lee (these being the most common names in South America and North America respectively), they would indeed be able to think of at least one.
So what is a surname? becomes a different question, it is almost the same as asking who are we? Both questions will mean something different to each individual person, yet identity is everything now, personally, legally and spiritually so it is perhaps a question we all of us should ask ourselves more often.
Altogether now...what is a surname?
For many of us, the mystery of surname and given name is a continuous one. For instance, the confusion reigns supreme while discussing about relevance of surname to any family. In an interesting development, it has been noticed that an average population of United States has two names, generally. This system of naming is related to the family primarily and religion, in the secondary manner. Any discussion on what is a surname and given name will compel us discussing the numerous existing ...
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