Why do last names end in son but not daughter?
Not a feminist here or anything lol, just curious. Why are there last names like Jackson and Dennison but not Jackdaughter or Dennidaughter?
- CLv 71 month agoFavorite Answer
This goes back to English Common law in the English-speaking world where in the 1200 or 1300s (sorry, I don't remember off the top of my head) it was ruled that a female had no surname of her own but "borrowed" her father until she "borrowed" her husband's. This was around the time concept of surnames became more regularized/formalized.
Other parts of the world do/did it differently. Iceland still uses patronymics (being named after the father) so a girl would get dad's name + possessive (s, in this case) + dottir while a boy gets dad's name + possessive + son. An unmarried woman can give her name to her child using the same formula. All the Nordic countries used this formula until relatively recently when governments put a stop to it for better record keeping and froze everyone's surname in time. At the same time they got rid of the -daughter ending completely and decided that women would take their fathers' and husbands' names. Some rural areas still stubbornly stick to doing it the old way informally.
Irish and Scottish Gaelic still use patronymics. Male Mc/Mac names are Nic in the feminine and Ó names Ní followed by the father's name in the genitive form. It's a mishmash though because in English, due to the influence of English law, the surnames have become frozen in time and people who don't live immersed in the Gaeltacht just tend to "translate" their frozen surname back into Irish/Gaelic without using their father's given name but do change the gender for females. Those are examples I know something about first hand, but lots of cultures have some version of this.
Incidentally, Scots Law is a separate legal system to English Law. In English Law when a woman marries she can take her husband's name if she wants to (the law changed some time ago to make her name her own) and since this was what happened automatically in the past there's a smooth pathway to do so and her name changes from the date of her marriage. English people who move to Scotland can get a shock when they assume that things are the same. Scots Law is like French civil law in that a woman's name never changes* on marriage. She can (and was in many areas) expected to call and sign herself "Mrs Husband's Name." This is what's called a "legal nicety." If you apply to the Registers of Scotland to change your name the record is amended from birth and whatever it used to be no longer exists except as a footnote somewhere that it was changed. The continually have to warn English women who get married in Scotland not to do this and no it's not just them being racist toward English people and refusing to serve them.
Maybe those pesky feminists are right to ask the same question you did? There're a lot of cultural values in how names are given and passed down and who is excluded. Btw, in the English-speaking world where the legal system is derived from English common law Women have been fighting for the right to own their surname and to choose to pass it down themselves pretty much since the beginning. All the mediaeval cases came about because women with the funds to launch a case felt so strongly about having a name of their own and not getting a new one slapped on them due to life events. Just occasionally a feminine one somehow slipped through the net and became formal, for example "Brewster" is the feminine of brewer and was a feminine occupation.
*This changed in 2013 in France and now either spouse can take either's name and formally change it if they want the extra paperwork.
- LiliLv 71 month ago
They may in parts of Scandinavia, though even there, the patronymic is formed on the basis of the father's name, as in "Lavransdottir". The "dottir" refers to the daughter herself, not to her mother.
Patriarchy ruled for millenia, so when surnames came into existence, they were formed on the basis of the father's name if not on the basis of a location, occupation, or physical characteristic.
- 1 month ago
sexism my love.
- ProfGene.TogolotLv 71 month ago
Spanish names include both parents. but most societies are male dominated. IN the beginning the state of Israel defined a Jew if your mother was Jewish but later they allowed that if one a parent of either sex that caused them to identify themselves as a Jew then it was acceptable.
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- MaxiLv 71 month ago
In the past men only ran society, when a female married they went from being owned by the father and being owned by the man they nmarried ( do took his surname) and when a child of that marriage was born they belonged to the father so took his surname...in the early times when surname were first given/taken the father called Dennis, their children took the name 'son of Dennis' Dennison' as femlaes had no standing in society, generally couldn't own property or make any decisions
However in some societies, like Iceland and later on Scotland 'daughter' was used.
Iceland :Jón Einarsson's daughter Sigríður's last name would not be Einarsson but Jónsdóttir. The name literally means "Jón's daughter" (Jóns + dóttir). In some cases, an individual's surname is derived from a parent's middle name instead of the first name.
Scotland: Patronymic surnames for men feature either the mac (e.g. MacDhomhnaill) element or the nominalizing suffix -ach (e.g. Domhnallach). In the case of women, the element nic is used (derived from nighean mhic "the daughter of the son of").
- A Yahoo UserLv 71 month ago
Because those last names developed in male-dominated societies
in which societies patrilineage was most important (much more important than matrilineage).
- David SLv 71 month ago
They do that in Iceland.
- ZirpLv 71 month ago
Anglo/Russian sexism...like ignoramus said
In Iceland they don't have family-names, but they do indicate your father. So a woman could be named "Helga Larsdottir"
In Dutch, we had a famous heroine called Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaar. She is so famous that we use her first name to indicate any fierce feisty woman and nobody calls their daughter that anymore
- Anonymous1 month ago
The same reason offspring take the father's surname.
Say the father's first name was Jack or Dennis, but they didn't have a last name, their children were called David Jack-son, Arthur Dennis-son, Mary Jack-daughter, Sarah Dennis-daughter. When they got married the daughters lost their own last names and took their husband's one giving David and Sarah Jackson, and Arthur and Mary Dennison.
- ignoramusLv 71 month ago
Because titles, inheritances, property, in ancient times always descended through the male line. Daughters became part of their husbands' families on marriage, and no longer regarded as part of their birth family. So it was important to maintain the male family tree, not the daughters'.