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Old 04-04-2016, 06:14 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
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Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
(My understanding is that in Hispanic practice, you adopt both parents' surnames, so you wouldn't want another as a given name; but people from cultures who don't might well imagine one or other surname is in fact the person's given name )
The fact that first and family names are for the most part not interchangeable in traditional Spanish (although with a few exceptions as Nava notes) helps to avoid confusion. But it can get quite confusing in a melting pot like Panama, where many people have West Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, or South Asian names. It can be ambiguous whether someone who uses three names is using a first name, middle name, and father's family name; or first name, father's family name, and mother's family name.

Originally Posted by Nava View Post
And Cameron Díaz's name always cracks me up; apparently she does have a middle name of Michelle. In Spanish-speaking countries, Yésicas are perfectly common for certain ages and socioeconomic strata (in Spain "la Yesi" has become shorthand for women of that specific group), although those living in the US normally spell it Jessica. I've had Latin American coworkers with names such as Nelson or Franklin. I've also known a Rommel, from the Philippines. But except for Ms Diaz, whose name does follow general US conventions, all those fall under the same heading as Anglos using Delores, Chelo or Joya (pronounced Yoya): it's just picking a firstname from another culture, something that's been going on for thousands of years.
Anglo first names derived from family names are common enough in Panama, such as Nixon, Nelson, Robinson, etc, mostly but not exclusively among those of (English speaking) West Indian descent. (Panamanians are notorious for exotic first names, especially grandiose classical ones: Alcibiades, Aladino, Baltisar, Anibal (Hannibal); or from other cultures like Ivan and Omar.)