15 Stories

Japan Supreme Court: Couple Must Use Same Surname

Women's rights activists say the rule is antiquated, discriminatory

(Newser) - Japan's Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday that maintains a longtime civil rule some say is unconstitutional and discriminatory: forcing married couples to officially choose one surname, the BBC reports. Presiding Justice Itsuro Terada said that the surname mandate wasn't discriminatory, since a couple could choose to use... More »

Stop Judging Women Who Take Their Husband's Name

In some cases, it can be a 'feminist act,' argues female writer

(Newser) - When Amanda Kolson got married, she made Kolson her middle name and took her husband's surname, Hurley, as her last. Cue the raised eyebrows and not-so-subtle judgments. "It was as if I'd admitted my favorite restaurant was the Cheesecake Factory, or that I listened to Nickelback,"... More »

Brides Say 'I Do' (Not Take Your Name)

Women keeping their maiden names on the rise again: 'NYT' study

(Newser) - The 1970s heralded a feminist-driven wave of brides who kept their maiden names, but that trend dived in the 1980s, when new wives started using their husbands' name again. Now, a New York Times analysis, the number of maiden-name-retaining women is surpassing that of the '70s. Using Google Consumer... More »

Woman With 36-Character Last Name Wins Fight With Hawaii


(Newser) - You will never, ever, ever see Janice "Lokelani" Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele's last name in lights or a headline, but the Hawaii woman can now at least see her hefty surname in its entirety on her driver's license. As the AP reports, Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele (try writing that without the crutch of... More »

Chinese Orphans Won't Be Named 'State' or 'Party'

Orphanages told to give kids better surnames

(Newser) - No longer will "state" or "party" be the last name of children in Chinese orphanages, Jezebel reports via MSNBC . Until now, orphanages commonly gave kids those generic surnames—which enabled people to peg them as orphans for life and leave them feeling marginalized. So China issued the rule... More »

Can Your Name Influence Your Job Choice?

Experts say yes in new study

(Newser) - Ever noticed how perfect the name Wordsworth is for a poet, or wondered whether Usain Bolt's last name prompted his running career? Researchers are currently investigating whether one's name can influence one's choice of job, with one study already suggesting it can. Indeed, it's become a... More »

Kids' Surnames a Dilemma for Hyphenated Parents

Does baby get 4 last names?

(Newser) - If you’re Smith-Jones and your husband is Johnson-Miller, do you give your baby four last names? Growing up, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow often faced similar questions, she writes in the New York Times . Her parents were of a generation that sought to emphasize gender equality by hyphenating their kids’ last names;... More »

How 'Washington' Became America's 'Blackest Name'

Were former slaves honoring George, embracing America?

(Newser) - George Washington’s name is synonymous with America—and of the people who bear his surname today, 90% of them are African-American, according to the 2000 census. How did “Washington” become, as Jesse Washington, writing for the AP calls it, the “blackest name" in America? It could be... More »

These Days, Immigrants Keep, Cherish Their Names

Ellis Island white-washing a thing of the past

(Newser) - Our long-simmering great American Melting Pot may finally be ready to handle a little ethnic spice: Unlike in Ellis Island's heyday, when wave upon wave of tired, poor, huddled masses anglicized their names in order to assimilate, today's immigrants are sticking with their surnames. “For the most part, nobody... More »

German Court Says Nein to Long Last Names

Ruling upholds ban on "chain names" with more than one hyphen

(Newser) - Germany's highest court has upheld the country's ban on triple-barreled surnames, the BBC reports. The court ruled that limiting surnames to two did not violate freedom of expression laws. Frieda Thalheim and Hans-Peter Kunz-Hallstein—who have been married for 12 years but legally couldn't take their preferred last name, Thalheim-Kunz-Hallstein—... More »

Facebook Identity Cops Diss Real Yodas, Batmans

(Newser) - Facebook has a thing against funny names, particularly if they’re actually yours, the Washington Post reports. Caitlin Shaw, who wanted to add her maiden name, Batman, to her profile, endured weeks of back-and-forth emails, while Starkiller Unleashed sails through. Facebook says it scrutinizes the real applicants because they are... More »

Unrelated Obamas Relish Connection

(Newser) - Ordinary citizens who share the last name Obama with the president-elect are seeing goodwill and unexpected perks lately, the Washington Post reports. They might not be able to score Inauguration tickets, but entrance to a swanky nightclub? No problem. Speeding ticket? Fixed. And it’s an exclusive club: The country... More »

100 Surnames for 1.3B People Causes Chinese Confusion

Surname shortage causes identity mixups, bureaucratic chaos

(Newser) - The Chinese call them liaobaixing, or "old 100 names," and they are so partial to those 100 traditional surnames, Radio Free Netherlands tells us, that over 90% of the country's population of 1.3 billion share them. The profusion of Wangs, Chen, Lis and Wus creates powerful feelings... More »

Want to Vote, O'Connor? Think Again

Apostrophes, hyphens, and spaces in names confuse computers

(Newser) - The Information Age has been bad news for O'Connors, D'Angelos, Al-Husseins, and Van Kemps everywhere. Apostrophes in Irish, French, Italian, and African last names; hyphens in Arab names; and spaces in Dutch ones cause their owners endless headaches when computer systems reject or mis-record them, reports the AP, blocking them... More »

Garcias Catching Up With Smiths

Hispanics rising in latest surame survey

(Newser) - Smith is still the most common US surname, but Garcia and Rodriguez are hot on its tail, the New York Times says. Those two Hispanic names cracked the Census Bureau’s latest top 10, likely marking the first time a non-Anglo name has been so prevalent. After seeing their ranks... More »

15 Stories