Multiple last names - when does it end?

So, your mom was Linda Doe. She married Jim Elk. She changed her name to Linda Doe-Elk.

She had you. Your name is Julie Doe-Elk. You fall in love with Steve Moose. You decide to get married.

What is your name after your marriage?

Julie Doe-Elk-Moose?

What about your daughter? Would she be Anna Doe-Elk-Moose-Smith once she marries Tyler Smith?

What is the common practice in that situation?


Multiple, hyphenated names are a major pain in the butt for programmers.

When I first started, we’d reserve 12 bytes for first name and 15 bytes for the last.
Hyphenated names became a fad in the 1990’s and suddenly you need 35 bytes for a last name field. Even then, some names get truncated.

It’s even worse trying to design a report. You only get about 100 characters per line on a laser printer with 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Waste 50 characters for a first name/last name and there’s not much left for the other information. You wind up having to use several detail lines just to fit it in.

As to the OP’s question. I’ve seen names in our data like Misty-Joiner-Everett. Some lady named Misty-Joiner married a guy named Everett.

With any luck, I’ll be retired before Misty-Joiner-Everett’s daughter grows up and gets married. I don’t want to deal with Misty-Joiner-Everett-Smith. I’m sure we’ll get names like that eventually.

A big part of my job is auditing and cleaning up data in our database. I see some really weird names.

There isn’t a common convention at this time. You sometimes see kids with four hyphenated names. What really cracks me up is when it’s a combination like Smith-Chang-Liebermann-Garcia.

Hispanics do have rules about their hyphenated names (which I can’t recall right now) but that’s totally different from the women’s lib kind of hyphenation.

Either way, hyphenated names are a nightmare when trying to e-file tax returns.

Well Quebec actually has a law on the subject. (Quebec has a law on every subject. If they don’t authorize, say, kids scooters and the last I looked they hadn’t, then it is illegal for a kid to use a scooter.) The law says first that a woman may not take her husband’s name for legal purposes. If Miss Elk marries Mr. Moose, then she remains Miss Elk and he Mr. Moose. (I know someone who is married to a first cousin of the same name and it was nearly impossible for her to get a paycheck at the Jr. College she taught at because it was not permitted to pay her under her married name. Finally, she gave them an alternate spelling of her maiden name and that seemed to satisfy the computer, although it was a lie.)

Getting back to the OP, the offsprouts of Miss Elk and Mr. Moose can be named Elk, Moose, Elk-Moose, or Moose-Elk. Now Miss Moose-Elk marries Mr. Wolf-Bear and they have kids. Essentially they can choose any one or any two from {Moose,Elk,Wolf,Bear} in any order. That gives 12 possible choices. But they may not use more than two.

The longest unhyphenated name I ever saw was that of a Finn named Markku Uusupaavelniemi, fifteen letters. He said he was generally known as M-15. He mentioned he had a brother whose first name was Uusu.

Some of the foreign names are a major challenge for our data entry people. Make them hyphenated and you have a major headache.

I miss the easy days when names like Paul Jones and Jack Smith were common.

People are so sensitive. Mr Xdtyuoiuytgw calls our office because the envelope label on an office memo left off the last “cu” on his name. :rolleyes:

I hate it when the alphabetize it wrong.

For instance you will see a story about singer Olivia Newton-John

It’s say…

“Olivia Newton-John got married today…This is the second marriage for Miss John.”

NO :smiley:

It should be “This is the second marriage for Miss Newton-John.” :slight_smile:

The answer is…

When Ms. Smith-Jones marries Mr. Jackson-DePaul, the two of them decide together what they will be called, and what their children will be called. This may be ANY COMBINATION of one or any combination of their various last names, or they may make one up.

I have never heard of a real-life case of a child being named Lilian Smith-Jones-Jackson-DePaul. It is nothing but a strawman, and it really ticks me off.

Seriously - people should be called by the name they want to be called, both individually and as families, and it’s nobody’s business but their own. Yes, conventions can be useful, but seriously folks, you don’t need a rule for everything.

But then you have the issues where it’s not hyphenated and you don’t know which is part of the last name. Dick Van Dyke is very familiar, and his last name is Van Dyke. The country singer Ricky Van Shelton was popular for a while, and we continually had to correct stories that referred to him as Van Shelton, when his last name was Shelton. His “first name” was Ricky Van, a la Billy Bob.

The traditional style is “[Father’s Last Name] y [Mother’s Last Name],” with the father’s last name being sort of the ‘real’ last name. Maybe there’s a new style I don’t know about.

One other option with multiple hyphenations is just to make one of them the child’s middle name. So if John Jones marries Jane Williams-Smith, their son could be Jack Williams Jones-Smith, for example.

A better method would be to combine parts of the each name into one unhyphenated name.

For example:

Ms. Elk and Mr. Moose would have a child with a last name of Melk or Eloose.

Mr. Smith and Ms. Brown would have a Smown or Brith.

If those progeny had kids they would be Melrith, Melown, Brelk, Broose, Smelk, Smoose, Elorith, or Elown.

Yes, you may lose some of the grandparents’ names in the process, but it keeps the names short and produces some interesting and original names.

True, but it’s common to leave out the “y” in practice. Some Hispanics, especially in the US, have take to hyphenating the two last names in order to the avoid confusion of having the mother’s last name taken as an English-style last name (family name).

I give you the Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax family.

A family my mom knows went this route. The resulting last name they came up with actually looks more “normal” than one of the original names.

Didn’t Nell Greenfieldboyce do a story about this?

Still wrong. Since she is now married, her name isn’t Miss anything – it’s now Mrs. somebody.

Nope. Almost nitpicky stylistic exception: when a newlywed woman’s prior life is referred to in a news story about her marriage, she’s referenced by her maiden (or at least pre-this-marriage, if not a 1st wedding) name, “the former” being implied. However, one would use “Mrs. ____ was the former Olivia Newton-John”. Also, note that Ms. (alternatively Miss, but Ms is preferable) is appropriate for a married woman retaining her maiden name professionally. Mr. & Mrs. Giles A. Lutz were both writers. He wrote Westerns; she wrote romance novels under her maiden name, Grace Livingston Hill. She was not Mrs. Grace Livingston Hill – there was no Mr. Hill to whom she was married. She was Mrs. Lutz after her marriage socially, Miss Hill before her marriage professsionally, and Ms Hill (Miss Hill being a rare alternative) professionally after her marriage.

I know two families that have done that. It works fine with one, but the other sounds harsh to the ear.

So if Miss Dash married Mr. Hyphen she could have a last name of Dash-Hyphen. Then depending upon screen reader assistive technology, a disabled person might “read” the name as “dash dash hyphen” or “dash hyphen hyphen.”

If she were smart, she would keep her own name and just change the title. Then she would be called Mrs. Dash, and that would add some flavor to the marriage.

Actresses and female singers have traditionally been refered to as “Miss” regardless of her marital status.