-son surnames

So in English we have surnames that follow the -son model.

Johnson = John’s Son

Having spent time in Scandinavia I realized that there they were even more popular. Hansen, Nielsen, Jensen, etc… Quite popular there. But the syntax of the language there usually follows the same order Jens son, Hans son… etc.

But, why not in German? Why not in other languages? Okay, I realize that in other languages the syntax doesn’t lend itself to the idea as well, but still. In German it totally does. Why isn’t -sohn a common surname in Germany?

I have heard that in Spanish, the surnames like Hernandez and Menendez etc. type surnames have to do with an older Spanish where the genitive could be formed by having an “s” at the end of a word instead of the typical “de -” common today.

Anyone wanna help explain this?

Germany? I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Mendelssohn?

Welsh is interesting - there you get the ap prefix meaning “son of”. The resulting Anglicised surnames just keep the P, so you get names like “Pugh” (ap Huw) and “Pritchard” and “Probyn”.

And of course in Icelandic women get the -dottir suffix. (Not Sally Magnusson though. Her father Magnus Magnusson’s surname was an English-style surname as he was brought up in Britain; in Iceland he would have been Magnus Sigursteinsson.)

  1. Mostly, other social influences on family names - the most frequent last names in Germany derive from occupations (List (German language) - the first 14 are all from occupations.

  2. There are a lot of last names recognizable derived from patronyms in North Germany, only (as Low German was spoken there) they end in -sen not -son or -sohn: Petersen, Claussen, Jenssen etc.

  3. In South Germany there are also many last names derived from father’s names, but usually there is no suffix, e.g. the last name equals the name giver’s first name: Hartmann, Hermann, Klaus, Werner, Walter etc. - all first names that are also middling frequent last names.

I suppose Mendelssohn is a seperate subset, of Germanic Jewish surnames. It wasn’t exactly hard to find this, and the list linked to there has a large number of '-sohn’s. I suppose these are less common today in Europe for obvious reasons, and also in America have in many cases been Anglicised to ‘-son’ or ‘-sen’.

Also Fitz-, as in Fitzpatrick, is actually a “son of” suffix. (I learnt this right here on the board.)

Yep, from medieval French. The French word for “son”, fils, was at one time pronounced more or less “feelts”, with an epenthetic “t” inserted into the pronounciation. By medieval times, the “l” weakened and dropped out, leaving fils pronounced as “feets”. Over some more time, the “ts” weakened to simply “s”, yielding the modern French pronunciation.

You used to get that in the rest of Scandinavia too, back in the old days. In Denmark, a lot of people just used their name and patronymic, so you would have Jens Hansen, and his son would be Thomas Jensen, and so on–and Jens’ daughter would be Hanna Jensdatter. IIRC, H. C. Andersen’s mother’s name followed this pattern in the early 1800’s, but I’m not sure just when all that changed–it was fairly late, though. Wealthy people had last names referring to their property and so on, so it’s pretty easy to tell whose family was peasants and whose was rich–though of course some last names refer to trades or nicknames as well.

I thought “Fitz-” meant “bastard son of…” rather than just “son of…”. Not so?

According to this thread it could, but isn’t necessarily.

There’s the Mc and Mac formations from Scotland and Ireland, and also the Irish O’ (although that means “descended from” rather than “son of”). In your actual Gaelic, there are also Mhic and Nic, and Ui and Ni for the wife and unmarried daughter in the Mac and O’ cases

Do any non-European languages have these kind of surnames?

Just wanted to add that English also may just add an s as in Richards, Roberts, etc. There is a location difference between using Richardson and Richards which I knew at one time.

Spanish uses the suffix “-ez”.

Fernandez=son of Fernando

Sanchez=son of Sancho

Then there’s the Hebrew ben and the Arabic? bar (and bin, come to think of it. Isn’t Bin Laden = son of Laden?)

There’s also the Welsh ‘ap’ (as in ‘Daffyd Ap Gruffyd’).

Actually, “Bar” is Aramaic; it’s aechaic, but it still appears an several modern Hebrew names. “Bin” is Arabic (and, for some reason, the Hebrew name “Bin-Nun”) , but it’s not as common as the ubiquitous “Ibn.”

Arabic is also unique in that it uses the “Abu” - “father of” - prefix. This, however, is most often used as a nickname, named for the man’s eldest son.

Am I on your ignore list or something? :stuck_out_tongue:

Whoops! That’ll teach me to read the whole thread before posting! :smack:

It doesn’t happen in Japanese, Chinese or Korean.