8_10_Uncovering the Mystery of Family Names (1)

Where do English family names come from?




[Chip & Chelsea]

Go to America, and you’re certain to find people with the last names Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones and Brown. That’s because these surnames (family names/last names) are the five most common in the nation. Over 300 million people living in America today use around 152,000 last names. And while some of these names are common and others are unique, all of them have a story to tell.
Surnames begin to surface
Throughout much of history, surnames were not considered necessary. For thousands of years, people only used 
first, or given, names. The world was less populated (full of people), and because everyone knew their neighbors, one title of address was enough. When two people living in the same area shared the same first name, a simple solution was developed. A second name was adopted to distinguish one individual from the other, but these names were seldom passed on. When the French conquered England in 1066, they brought the practice of using surnames with them. This practice slowly became popular, and by 1400, most people were using surnames they inherited from their families.

[Traditional Chinese Translation]




We use surnames, family names and last name interchangeably.

[More Information]

When Europeans began immigrating to America, their surnames often took on different spellings and pronunciations. After reaching their new home, millions of immigrants volunteered to have their family names changed so that they would be easier for others to pronounce. Many immigrants found it easier to adjust to American culture with American-sounding names, so they gladly took on their new names.

[Ashley & Ken]

K: Excuse me, Ashley, uh, you got a minute?
A: Sure, Ken. What’s up?
K: How should I ask someone for their ADD-ress?
A: How should you ask someone for their ADD-ress? Well, you just say
What’s your ADD-ress?
K: Yeah, that’s what I thought. But what’s the title of ADD-ress?
A: The title of ADD-ress?
K: Yeah, it says right here because everyone knew their neighbors, one title of ADD-ress was enough.
Oh, you said it wrong. It’s not ADD-ress. It should be ad-DRESS.
K: ad-DRESS?
A: That’s right.
A title of ad-DRESS is not referring to the place a person live. ad-DRESS there refers to what you call someone. Your name is Ken and that’s what I call you. I ad-DRESS you as Ken. When you meet the president of a country, you should ad-DRESS him as Mr. President.
K: Oh, so we never say ADD-ress?
A: Well, you’ll hear ADD-ress in American English but we only use that pronunciation for the place a person lives, as in what’s your ADD-ress? If you talk about a speech on the other hand, it’s always ad-DRESS.
K: So, I should say the prime minister gave in ad-DRESS not ADD-ress.
A: Yep, unless he is telling you where he lives. Do you know the name of the famous speech Abraham Lincoln gave?
K: Ah, The Gettysburg ad-DRESS.
A: You’ve got it.
K: Well, thanks for your help.
A: You are welcome.
注意這個字的發音a-d-d-r-e-s-s,可以讀ADD-ress,也可以讀ad-DRESS。但是ADD-ress只能夠代表地址,而且這是美國人的發音,what’s your ADD-ress? 但英國人會講what’s your ad-DRESS?除了表示地址,這個字還可以表示對人的稱呼、演說、致辭,這個時候就只能夠讀ad-DRESS,像今天課文中的one title of ad-DRESS was enough,一個頭銜當作稱呼就夠了。


Address /əˈdres/ DJ, /’ædrɛs/ KK, US

a formal speech that is made in front of an audience 演說;演講 countable

tonight’s televised presidential address 今晚總統的電視演講

the correct title, etc. to use when you talk to somebody 稱呼 uncountable form/mode of ~



Surname (n.) sur字首有之上的意思。姓氏,也可以叫做last name
*I thought John was French because his surname is Dupont.
*Don’t forget to write down your surname on your test.
Distinguish (v.) (+ from/between)分辨,區別。
*It’s hard to distinguish Sean from his twin brother Simon. They look exactly alike.
Pass on (ph. v.) 傳承,傳遞下去。
Pass as (= pass for)被當作,被看作
Pass around 分發,傳送。
Pass away (婉轉)死的意思,避開die的用詞。
Pass by sth/sb 走過,經過,從旁經過。Pass sb by 擦身而過,冷落某人。Passer-by (n.) (複數->passers-by) 過路人。
Pass down (尤用被動)將某物一代傳下一代。
Pass off (指事情)發生於某狀態。Pass sb/sth off 冒充(某人/某物)
Pass out 失去知覺,昏倒。
Pass sb over (尤用被動)不被考慮提升,另外提升較年輕的或職位較低的。Pass over sth 忽略或不理會某事物。
Pass up 放棄,放過機會。
Pass through 穿過,經歷。
*Kevin’s family’s beautiful antique ring was passed on to me when we got engaged.
*Please make sure this message gets passed on to your supervisor.
*His French is so good that he can pass as a Frenchman.
*Pass the cookies around, would you?
*His mother passed away last year.
*Will you be passing by supermarket on your way home?
*She felt that life was passing her by.
*knowledge which has been passed down over the centuries
*The demonstration passed off without incident.
*He escaped by passing himself off as a guard.
*I nearly passed out when I saw all the blood.
*He was passed over in favor of a younger man.
*Sex is a subject he prefers to pass over.
*I don’t think you should pass up the opportunity to go to university.
*She passed through a difficult period after her marriage failed.
Inherit [ɪnˈherɪt] (v.) 1. receive (property, a title, etc) as a result of the death of the previous owner 繼承(財產、頭銜等)2. derive (qualities, etc) from an ancestor 因遺傳而獲得(特性等)3. receive (sth) from a predecessor 從前任接過(某事物)
Inheritance (n.) 1. 繼承,遺傳。2. 繼承或遺傳之物,遺產,遺贈物。Inheritance tax遺產稅。
inheritor (n.) 繼承人。
*He inherited a fortune from his grandmother.
*She inherited her mother’s good looks and her father’s bad temper.
*The present government inherited a closed, state-dominated economy.
*The title passes by inheritance to the eldest son.


surname (n) In Western culture, most women change their surname to their husband’s when they get married.
unique (adj)
獨特的;獨一無二的 Pablo Picasso is world-famous for his unique works of art.
distinguish (v)
區分;辨別 Sometimes I can’t distinguish between Scottish English and Irish English. They sound so similar!
inherit (v)
繼承 When her grandmother passed away, Celia inherited her antique diamond earrings.

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