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Bi-millennial revision of surnames

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Many surnames have their origins in professions or trades - for example, Fletcher, Cooper, Tanner, Smith and so forth.

These surnames were, when first adopted, significant and informative: if you were a Cooper, you made barrels, probably following in your parent's footsteps. Likewise, if you were a Smith, you could be counted on to be a metalworker. If you arrived in town and needed some arrows, you had only to ask where Mr. Fletcher lived. And so forth and cetera.

Over time, though, this convenient system of nominative determinism has broken down. Every so often, a child fails to follow in their parents' profession, or a profession becomes obsolete, and the chain is broken.

Much the same can be said of geographical surnames. The great great great grandparents of Mr. Woods may have lived in the woods, but the present day Woodses probably live in a suburb.

This is all very unsatisfactory. We have lost the direct association between surname and profession or location and, with it, a rich source of useful information.

I modestly propose, therefore, that everyone's surname be revised every couple of millennia, to get back into sync with reality.

With one sweep of a pen - Gadulka!! - a family that hasn't produced a single barrel for three generations has its surname changed from Cooper to Salesrep. The Fletchers, having given up the arrowmaking trade several centuries ago, suddenly become the Injectionmoulders. The Woods become the Commuterbelts, and so forth.

When these revisions are brought to bear, surnames will once again make sense.

MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 05 2015

First names? http://www.urbandic...p?term=shitting+dog
This Idea does nothing about first names. Also, what if someone wanted a family name that had no relation to any profession? Some folks have family names related to their place of origin; "Franco" springs to mind. [Vernon, Aug 06 2015]

Middle names done by Kurt Vonnegut https://en.wikipedi...apstick_%28novel%29
In this novel each US citizen gets a new middle name and a new family to belong to. [Toto Anders, Aug 07 2015]

Old idea! http://news.larryni...o/display.asp?key=4
This 1965 short story, set in the distant future, has characters with names related to their professions. [Vernon, Aug 10 2015]

[link]






       But all Bakers don't become HalfBakers.
AusCan531, Aug 05 2015
  

       If you have a problem with your assigned surname Mr. Dumpsterdiverson you'll have to take It up with Mrs. Ponzi in the complaints department across town.   

       Dr Proctor says you know where you can stick this idea.
Ian Tindale, Aug 05 2015
  

       This only works if the family is all in the same line, or place. Perhaps the existing surnames could be retained (or replaced with generic ones of no signficance), and a system of appending current occupation to a name adopted.

Fred Jones Butcher; Edward Jones Student; Mary Jones Unemployed, etc. Locations could be integrated in the customary manner; Fred Jones of Witherington, Butcher; Edwards Jones of Witherington, Student; Mary Jones of Brastonhill, Still Unemployed.
vincevincevince, Aug 05 2015
  

       I just think names should be replaced by serial numbers.
nineteenthly, Aug 05 2015
  

       Emoji
Ian Tindale, Aug 06 2015
  

       This already happens. "Who's that lady who just passed us in the street? I kind of recognise them!" "Oh that was Susan from the Post Office" "don't forget to give Diane thebakers tge 50p you owe for yesterday's loaf" etc.   

       The problem is not the ad-hoc occupational or residential surnames, which grow organically. It is the strange obsession that people and beurocracies have with everyone having one correct form of name,   

       "Hello Claire!" "Psst. It's Clare, no i!" With that kind of attitude, what hope is there?
pocmloc, Aug 06 2015
  

       There is no hope. Resistance is futile. You will be Assimilated.   

       // I just think names should be replaced by serial numbers. //   

       Ah, the voice of sanity ....
8th of 7, Aug 06 2015
  

       But you're being unnecessarily restrictive, only considering those surnames which denote an occupation. Many surnames denote who your father was (e.g. "Harrison"), an interesting geographic feature you live next to (e.g. "Hill", "Ford", "Church"), the place you're from (e.g. "French"), or a significant personal characteristic (e.g. "Short", "Redhead", "Bignose"). These too should be updated, so Mr Church might become Mr Multi-Storey-Car-Park or Mr Shopping-Centre, and so on...
hippo, Aug 06 2015
  

       They could become longer and more ent-like, tagging professions and histories along at the beginning of surnames as they are accumulated and dismissed. That way people who didn't have anything useful to say about anyone would be too lazy to say it.   

       I could be Mr. Tensioner-Hybrid- Transmission-Futurecar- Tank-Engine- Chassis-Clutch-Safetybelt- Visor-Hoser- Student.   

       Or maybe adjectives are better: Mr. Pulling-Vibrating- Turning-Planning- Shaking-Pushing- Slider-Blinder-Router- Booklooker.   

       Naturally names would grow longer as people got older.
RayfordSteele, Aug 06 2015
  

       I think this, even with hippo's contribution, is too prescriptive. We shouldn't be cursing future generations to the crippling inertia of nominative determinism, the nation itself sunk, three hundred years from now, from a caste of Mr and Mrs UX-Developers, a remnant of technology long past, leaving our wonderful country lagging behind, a nation of pallid, ectomorphic Amiga fetishists. No, our use of nominative determinism should be aspirational - after all, we want to be a nation of strivers, not skivers - viz:
Mr Prime Minister
Mrs VP (Technical)
Mr Handmodel
Ms Enormouswilly
Mrs Entrepreneur
Mr Chiefexecutiveothinktank
u.s.w.
calum, Aug 06 2015
  

       It’d be interesting to try and place words that are quite harmless and passive now which may turn into the most barbed or insulting swearwords of the future, and use those.
Ian Tindale, Aug 06 2015
  

       Ah yes - Norman RAID.
normzone, Aug 06 2015
  

       Johnny Foreigner
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 06 2015
  

       ..or you could change your surname to a pointer. Update the destination data as needed. Insert into blockchain for security and authentication.
TIB, Aug 06 2015
  

       Martin Halfbaker.
FlyingToaster, Aug 06 2015
  

       My maiden name was Darling, which is much like blissmiss. Hmmmm. Does that mean anything I wonder?
blissmiss, Aug 06 2015
  

       I'm not sure why this Idea is supposed to be automatically implemented, instead of making it optional. Some folks might want different words for their names, than the automatically-assigned words. For example, it is my understanding that the name "Stein" in some languages is equivalent to "Smith" in other languages. What if someone wanted a their-own- language version of a job-description for their name? What if they liked their existing name, regardless of their profession?   

       For another consequence, consider the mess this would make of efforts to trace one's ancestry, after some thousands of years go by.
Vernon, Aug 06 2015
  

       // What if someone wanted a their-own- language version of a job- description for their name?//   

       That's another thing I forgot to mention. Names should be in English, and it's high time we stopped humouring these people who affect foreign names simply because they live in a foreign country. They'll never learn to speak English properly unless we take things in hand - it's for their own good, after all.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 06 2015
  

       Regarding "humoring foreign names"...   

       Polish man goes into an opticians…
Optician covers one eye up and says to the bloke…
“Can you read the bottom line ?”
Polish man says ” Read it ! I know him ”
Vernon, Aug 06 2015
  

       Tracing one's ancestry is easy. We all came from Lucy.
RayfordSteele, Aug 07 2015
  

       What if the universe's journey is not just it's origin?
wjt, Aug 08 2015
  
      
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