8_11_Uncovering the Mystery of Family Names (2)

Where do English family names come from?



Family tree

[Chip & Chelsea]

Most English surnames can be traced back to one of four sources:
Place names 
Perhaps the most convenient way to 
acquire(get/obtain) a surname was to adopt a name based on the place one lived. A man named John who was living in Bristol, England, would be called John of Bristol. Gradually the prepositions disappeared, and John of Bristol simply became John Bristol. A person named Oliver who lived by a lake might become Oliver Atwater.
Nicknames also have a place in English surname history. For example, if a man were unusually strong, he might adopt a surname such as Armstrong. Likewise, a person who was tall might become Longfellow. 
Trade names 
laborers(workers) often used their occupations as surnames. A woodworker might go by the last name Carpenter. Down the street might be Mr. Smith, the village blacksmith.
Patronymics (Father, name)
Surnames that indicate family relationships were the last to 
catch on(be popular/ common). They worked like this: Peter’s son John became John Peterson, and Robert’s son Joseph would have been called Joseph Robertson.
Whether common or unique, all English family names are full of history!


Adopt: to choose a new name, a country, a custom, etc. and begin to use it as your own 選用(名字等);移居(某國);承襲(風俗) VN

§  to adopt a name/title/language 取名;襲用頭銜;採用某語言

§ Early Christians in Europe adopted many of the practices of the older, pagan religions. 歐洲早期的基督教徒承襲了更古老的一些異教的許多習俗。

[Traditional Chinese Translation]







[More Information]

[Ashley & Ken]

A: So, what are you reading today, Ken?
K: Oh, a very interesting article about English surnames?
A: English surname? Oh, you mean English family name?
K: Yeah, family names. The article uses both surname and family name, in fact it even uses last name. Ashley,
do these terms mean the same thing?
A: Yes,
pretty much. Surname is the same as family name. However last name is mainly used in the West.
K: In the West? So, there are no last names in the East?
A: You should know this better than me, Ken. What’s your last name?
K: Lee.
A: Lee, and how do you say your Chinese name?
A: See,
the Lee is no longer placed at the last place. It’s placed at the beginning.
K: So, Lee is my first name?
A: No, Ken is your first name. Lee is your surname but in China surnames appear at the front of a name. However in the West, surnames are placed at the end of a name. That’s why it’s called last name in the West.
K: Oh, so that’s why
馬友友 is called Yo-yo Ma in the West.
A: Right. So Westerners will know right away that Ma is his family name. Also the Taiwanese director An Lee is probably called Lee Ang in Chinese, right?
K: Yep,
李安is his Chinese name.
A: Well, I should let you
get back to your reading.
K: Thanks for your explanation.
A: You’re welcome, Lee.
K: (laugh)

英文的姓有好幾個講法,surname, family name, last name都可以表示姓氏,之所以叫做last name是因為西方的姓都是放在last最後面,而中文的姓是放在名字前面,因此,為了方便西方人很多東方人會將自己的姓移到名字後頭,像馬友友就變成了Yo-yo Ma,李安就變成了Ang Lee

[Article] Nicknames also have a place in English surname history. 
have a place ~ 1. having somewhere to go
*Do you have a place to stay when you’re visiting London?
2. In this article, have a place in history means a certain part of history. We use this phrase when we talk about an important event or a person. 
*The athlete won a place in history when he broke the world record.
*Copernicus claimed a place in history with his contributions to astronomy.



Acquire (v.) 1. 獲得,取得。2. 學習到。
*Tim acquired his
fortune by investing in the stock market.
*Harry drove his
newly acquired convertible /kənˈvɜːtəbl/ to work today.

convertible   /kənˈvɜːtəbl/ DJ   /-ˈvɜːrt-/ DJ US   /kən’vɝtəbḷ/ KK US


that can be changed to a different form or use 可改變的;可轉換的;可兌換的 ~ (into/to sth)


a car with a roof that can be folded down or taken off 活動頂篷式汽車

acquired Japanese when working in Japan.
Labor (n.) 勞動。
Laborer (n.) (= worker) 勞動者,勞工A worker means one who does a particular type, manual or non-managerial work. So a worker is used broadly, a laborer especially indicates someone whose work needs physical strength.
*Farm laborers protested against the new import policy.
*The union
declared that they will fight for the rights of the railroad laborers.
Catch on (phr. v.) 1. 流行,受到歡迎。2. 理解。
Catch at 試圖抓住或握住某樣東西。
Catch out 發覺有錯誤。
Catch up 趕上,瞭解。
*The band’s song soon caught on and quickly became number one
on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
*The software slowly caught on and today many companies use it.
*I don’t quite catch on to what she is saying.
*He will catch at any opportunity to practice English.
*The interviewer may try to catch you out.
*If you miss a lot of classes, it’s very difficult to catch up.
*At the moment our technology is more advanced, but other countries are catching up with us.
*Drive faster- they’re catching up with us. (= catching us up)
*I need to catch up some sleep (= after a period without enough sleep).
*The first thing I did when I got home was to phone Jo and catch up on all the gossip.
Patronymic [ˏpatrəˋnɪmɪk] (n.) (adj.) 取自父係的。
Paternal [pəˈtəːrnl](adj.) 父親的,父係的。
Patriarchal (adj.) 由男人所主導控制的。A patriarchal society 父係社會。
Maternal [məˈtəːrnl] (adj.) 母親的,母系的,母方的。 
Matriarchal [ˌmeɪtriˈɑːrkl] (adj.) 由女人所主導控制的。A matriarchal society 母系社會。
*paternal grandmother, uncle
*maternal grandmother, aunt


acquire (n) 取得;養成 It is necessary to acquire a taste for coffee before being able to enjoy it.
preposition (n)
介係詞 Using prepositions like in, at and on correctly is difficult task for English learners.
laborer (n)
勞工;勞動者 The hired laborers worked all day in the farmer’s field.
catch on (phr v)
流行起來;受歡迎 Thanks to Michael Jackson, it didn’t take long for the moonwalk to catch on.


How can most English surnames be trace back to?

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