W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > January 2008

names Re: Underline element.

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 02:44:12 +0100
To: "Philip Taylor (Webmaster)" <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk>, "Patrick Garies" <pgaries@fastmail.us>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.t4z1ryplwxe0ny@widsith.local>

On Mon, 14 Jan 2008 23:36:19 +0100, Philip Taylor (Webmaster)  
<P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk> wrote:

> Patrick Garies wrote:
>> I don’t know why you would propose “familyname” instead of “surname”  
>> though. According to http://www.m-w.com/ [1], the term family name is a  
>> synonym of the term surname; the definition of the term surname is “an  
>> added name derived from occupation or other circumstance”, which seems  
>> pretty generic to me [2].

Just goes to show that you shouldn't trust everything you read on the  
Web... These two definitions only partially overlap, and best highlight  
the fact that the term is generic in the sense that people use it for a  
bunch of different things, and thus its semantics are not well-defined or  

>> I don’t know which languages/cultures “surname” would be inapplicable  
>> to.

Afghan, where they are relatively rare (the foreign minister a few years  
ago who may still ahve the job went by the single and very common name  

French, where the "reflex" translation equates to the english term  
"nickname" (which is the origin of the english term). Family name is far  
better for explaining that this is the generic name you inherit. A  
"surnom" in french would be something used commonly in place of the  
official name - in my case "chaals" - and in some cases as a  
disambiguation (the major reason I adopted the nickname I was given).

> Fair comment.  For reasons that are no longer clear, I was under
> the impression that a surname always /followed/ a given name;
> I can find no evidence to support this, so I withdraw my
> objection without reservation.  "Familyname" may, however, be
> more transparent to non-native speakers.

There is plenty of evidence that a family name comes first in some cases -  
this is the convention in Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, to  
mention just a few.



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com
Received on Wednesday, 16 January 2008 01:47:04 UTC

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