Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hyphenated Names Make No Sense

We really need to just stop this.  This utter madness.  I'm mad about hyphenated names.  I'm not certain when the first hypenated last name occured, but my guess is sometime around the 80's, probably coinciding with the female revolution, that was taking major steps forward in terms of a woman's equality.

It makes sense that hyphenating a name was a female born idea.  For years, and years, woman mostly would take the mans last name, or just keep their own.  Both ideas I think are great.  With keeping their own name, an issue comes up as to what name the kids will have.  Putting a hyphen in between both names, while seemingly a decent idea, is a slapstick solution, that I dislike for many reasons. 

First of all, your last name has heritage.  More than likely, it has been passed down through a couple hundred years, if not more.  Make no mistake that heritage dies when you hypenate your last names.  You, or your kids, are no longer a Smith, or a Jones, you are a Smith-Jones a brand new name, with a brand new heritage.  A direct result of this new name, is the death of your previous one.  You are in a sense, killing a historic name, to create a new one altogether. 

Secondly, what are you kids going to do when they want to marry someone, and they have a hyphenated name also.  The reason you've chosen to keep both names, is because you couldn't decide on one or the other, they were equally important in your eyes, and now what are you going to do?  When a Smith-Jones marries a Wayne-Cruise what are they to do?  Add them all together and be the Smith-Jones-Wayne-Cruise's?  Drop a name or two, but which ones, as you can't single out one family over another?  Your putting a really tough decision on the kid potentially.

Thirdly, is how your name writes, sounds, and is entered in data form.  I have customers all the time come in, I say what is your name, they say Wayne Peters.  I look for their file under Peters, but it's not there.  Why not?  Because their name is acutally Wayne-Peters, and they have just given their last name.  Obviously in terms of data entry it's a longer name to enter.  Every time your child signs something, probably 10,000 times in their life or more, they have to write that extra name.  A lot of programs also don't like hyphens, and won't even let you enter them.

Any solution you can think of works better.  Keep your own name.  Make up a brand new one that combines the two.  All I'm asking is just pick one or the other, or make up something new.  Putting a dash in between two names, is not a solution that will work long term, without having some annoying effects.


  1. I hate modern hyphenated names as much as you do, but it didn't begin in the '80s. There are a lot of old aristocratic families in Britain who have passed down hyphenated names for hundreds of years.

  2. I have an hyphenated name and it drives me *crazy*. My parents named me "Katherine Michelle Bateman-Acton". They then enrolled me in school as Katie Acton and taught me to write my name as such. I didn't even realize that I had my mothers maiden name "Bateman" attached to my name until late adolescence when it started causing confusion.

    Once I was in the hospital and when they asked me my last name I said "Acton". Of course, they could not find me in the system! A secretary then rang me out and told me "You're supposed to going by you're first last name!" a.k.a my mothers last name.

    She made me feel like I had been using an illegitimate alias my entire life.

    My most recent problem arose at the bank. A clerk realized my hyphenated name wasn't on any of the cards I have had for years so they took them all away and reissued me new ones. Now all my cards have a name that I don't even identify with on them. They also removed my middle name from the all cards because, hey, it doesn't fit anymore.

    Thank mom and dad! ;-P