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RE: "lastname" and "firstname" are not culturally neutral

From: Jonathan Rosenne <rosenne@qsm.co.il>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 15:52:22 +0200
To: "'John Cowan'" <cowan@mercury.ccil.org>, "'Misha Wolf'" <Misha.Wolf@reuters.com>
Cc: <public-webont-comments@w3.org>, "'Www International'" <www-international@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000501c2f91f$175a4710$0401c80a@QSM4>

In modern Hebrew, we recognize "family name" and "private" or "individual"

The terms "first name" and "last name" are both culturally loaded.  Some
cultures place the family name first.

The term "given name" is probably much more culturally loaded. 

The term "first name" also raises another problem, with hyphenated names.
With Lars-Peter Andersen, he would probably expect us to know that his
"first" name is Lars-Peter, while for Lars Peter Andersen the first name is

So, I would suggest  "full presentation name"  vs. "culturally dependant
sortable name".


> -----Original Message-----
> From: www-international-request@w3.org 
> [mailto:www-international-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of John Cowan
> Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 1:25 PM
> To: Misha Wolf
> Cc: public-webont-comments@w3.org; Www International
> Subject: Re: "lastname" and "firstname" are not culturally neutral
> Misha Wolf scripsit:
> > The concepts "lastname" and "firstname" are not culturally neutral.
> > What is more, they are fairly meaningless, as one culture 
> or person will
> > place the family name last, while another culture or person 
> will place 
> > the given name last.  If the purpose of such a formatted 
> string were to 
> > enable, say, sorting by family name, then this purpose would not be 
> > achieved by the construction "lastname, firstname".
> > 
> > Please replace "lastname" with "family name" and "firstname" with 
> > "given name".
> In fact, that scheme is not culturally neutral either, though 
> it does help with Chinese, Japanese, and Hungarian.  
> Icelandic, however, has names of the form "given-name 
> patronymic", and sorting by given name is correct. Many 
> Arabic names are also of this form, sometimes with multiple 
> levels of patronymics.  Most Indonesians, OTOH, have only one name.
> The only really safe scheme is "full presentation name" vs. 
> "sortable name".  This does not leverage the typically high 
> redundancy between these two values, but it does work in all cases.
> -- 
> John Cowan           http://www.ccil.org/~cowan              
> cowan@ccil.org
> To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description 
> at all.  There are no words left to express his staggerment, 
> since Men changed the language that they learned of elves in 
> the days when all the world was wonderful.
>         --_The Hobbit_
Received on Wednesday, 2 April 2003 07:52:46 UTC

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