About Spanish Family Names

The theory

In Spain people have two family names and one or more given names, traditionally:

  • The first family name is the father's first family name.
  • The second family name is the mother's first family name.
  • Neither women, nor men, change their names when they get married. Your name is yours for your whole life.

Nowadays, parents may change the orther of the family names of their children, if they want to.

Example

My name is Pere Quintana Seguí:

  • Pere is my given name. It is in Catalan (my mother tongue) and is the equivalent of Peter.
  • Quintana is my father's first family name.
  • Seguí is my mother's first family name.

How to shorten my name

Sometimes it is more convenient to only use one family name, for brevity's sake. In this case, the one that prevails is the first family name.

Therefore, sometimes I write my name as "Pere Quintana". Nevertheless, I prefer to use my full family name, to avoid confusion. If you google "Pere Quintana", you'll easily find other people with whom I share my first name and my first family name, but not my second family name.

Why I use a hyphen in my scientific papers, even if it is wrong

The family names are written without hyphen between them. However, the programmers of the software that runs most scientific literature databases do not take the Spanish naming convention into account. They usually consider that the family name is the last word of the name, so my name often appears as "Pere Q. Seguí", which is very wrong.

Therefore, since 2011, I sign all my publications as Pere Quintana-Seguí, with a hyphen, to avoid confusion, even if it is ugly and the symbol of a cultural failure.

Date: 2016-07-11 15:06:51 CEST

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