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Old 04-04-2016, 01:14 AM
UDS UDS is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Australia
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
It might be stressed that we are talking only about names of British origin. Spanish last names, for example, are distinct and virtually never used as first names; nor do typical first names appear as last names. There are separate ways of forming a last name from a first name, for example:

Gonzalo Gonzalez
Fernando Fernandez
Martin Martinez
Rodrigo Rodriguez

Gomez Addams was exceptional since Gomez would not normally be used as a first name.
No, we're not just talking about surnames of British origin. Surnames of Irish origin, for example, are regularly repurposed as forenames in the US - Ryan, Murphy, Kelly, Cassidy - even though this doesn't happen in Ireland, or happens only on a small scale and mostly in imitation of the US practice..

I think what's going on here is that the US applies an originally British custom of "firsting" surnames to names from other ethnic traditions. They don't do that for Spanish names because Hispanic culture is sufficiently enduring in the US to establish and maintain its own practices in this regard. But my suspicion is that it's Spanish and possibly one or two other nomenclatures that are the exception here; the norm in the US is that surnames are repurposed relatively freely, and this isn't confined to surnames from Britain.

Interestingly enough, in Ireland Anglo-Saxon surnames are "firsted" fairly readily, but Gaelic surnames very rarely.