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Module 3: WHAT FOR?

(Page 5) Resource sheet 1

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NAMES


In some tribal traditions names are chosen from nature, from religion or from an event connected with the birth.

It is still the practice in many countries to choose first names from religious scriptures.

During the Middle Ages in Britain a person had no other name than this - no surname.

The surname developed as it became necessary to distinguish people even further as the population increased.

1) It associated people with a place such as Atwood, Atfield, Atwell.

2) Sometimes it identified the children with their father as below.

 

 

father

son

In England by adding

son

Robert

Robertson

In Scotland by adding

mac

Donald

MacDonald

In Ireland by adding

fitz

William

Fitzwilliam

 

o

Neil

O'Neil

In Wales by adding

ap

Rhys

ApRhys (This has now changed to Price)

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Trade names were also used such as Baker, Cartwright, Smith.

In India the surname still tells a great deal about a person including the caste, village from which the family originally came, and often the religion. If westerners go to India their names will indicate that they are from a Christian culture whatever their personal beliefs.

In most religions there is a naming ceremony which usually takes place when a child is still quite young. There are also traditions concerning the person/people who choose a child's name; why they choose it and how. This is illustrated by the excerpt from Roots on the next page.

R1-M3-PAGE 5

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