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What about surnames?

From: Raymond E. Feist
Date: 18 September 1997

I've taken the position that surnames are a hit and miss proposition in a nation like the Kingdom, which is a melting-pot society of several different cultures. Almost all names in the East, with some exceptions fall into three categories: place names, where nobles tend to have names that coincide with their place of origin, so you have Guy du Bas-Tyra. The custom tends then to be picked up by the locals, so you end up some generations later with a guy like Luis de Savona, which we can assume is a village somewhere in Rodez. Secondly, you'll get family names that start as a patranymn, so we can assume the founder of Arutha's line was a guy named Doin. conDoin being "son of Doin." Arutha Jaimson adopted his father's name as a family name. Lastly, you have names created by necessity. As Laurie was "Laurie of Tyr-Sog," he couldn't be "Lord Tyr-Sog, Duke of Salador." So either he and Carline became "de Salador" or a family name was created, perhaps Laurien, or Laurenson, or something like that. I had no need to follow through so I don't know what Carline's married name was. Briana and Margarite were conDoins, as Martin was recognized by Borric.

Among commoners a place name or a father's name or an occupation serve. One interesting piece of trivia on English surnames. Smith is the most common name for two reasons: 1) there were a lot of them, and many related trades shortened the name, so that Coppersmith became Smith, 2) the smith was the most important commonor to the nobles, as without him the noble didn't get his armor repaired or his horse shod. This made the smith the commonor least picked on by the noble's soldiers and tax collectors, so really quickly it became "John, the Smith's son" and "Herb, the Smith's Brother," and "Jack, who lives next to the Smith," etc. All were eventually shorted to John Smith, Herb Smith, and Jack Smith. I supposed there was even an "Elliot who went to school with a guy who dated a girl who lived down the road from the Smith."

Best, R.E.F.


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