Culture Collection “Last Names”

My Culture Collection is like a pocket full of interesting pebbles found along the way. Geology is part of the reason we are in Bolivia now, but that is a story for another time. In a geology class scientific terms for specific rocks are taught. A familiar one would be fossil. A not so familiar one would be diluvium: accumulations of gravel and loose materials. Interesting, right? My point is that names are extremely important, even when it comes to rocks.

Timid introductions when we had first arrived in Bolivia were usually followed by a confusing question: what is your other last name? At first I thought it was odd because I assumed that they were asking about my maiden name or my middle name. Why would that matter? Until I learned that Bolivians have two last names, and that is just the way it is. On all legal documents there is a blank for the last name given to you from your father and the last name given to you from your mother, and that is just the way it is.

When I would tediously explain that when we were married I took the last name of my husband and legally had all my documents show my new last name I was frequently met by retorts of disgust. Most people considered it rude on my behalf to denounce my ties to the people who had raised me and appalling that I  would disown the heritage that tied me to centuries past. I was informed that I was ungrateful.

For my Bolivian born son to have dual citizenship he first had to have a Bolivian birth certificate and then he could register for one from the States. In the registrar office we had two options: a. my son has only one legal parent (me) thereby having a solitary last name or b. my son has two legal parents thus two last names. We chose the latter. My son’s Bolivian name is: Tyler Cole Washington Washington. I may be disdained for my singular last name but I am praised for having a son with a duplicitous last name, because that is just the way it is.

Mamani Mamani

A famous Bolivian artist has created vibrant paintings reminiscent of the ancient times when earth and creation were worshiped. He captures the life of the nation with his marvelous images. His name is Mamani Mamani. His parents just so happened share a similar last name and they decided to don their son with the matching names. Sometimes children will have different last names to honor all sets of the families. So a girl could by Maria Eugenia Santos Saurez and her blood brother with the same parents could be David Miguel Flores Torres. The parents decide, and it is just the way it is.

(Image show is “Luz de Illimani” by: Mamani Mamani)

23 thoughts on “Culture Collection “Last Names”

  1. Ah ha! You’ve just brought me a revelation! I was getting so confused as to why I kept being asked for my otro appellido! (spelling?) Now I understand, I too thought it was my 2nd name they wanted and I;ve had the uh are you normal look when I say I only have one! I love tylers 2 last names..that’s great!

  2. Many believers here still call me “Beti Hanna” even though I’m now Beti McManus. The people in our church here have gotten used to my not having two names, but try filling out paperwork at the doctor or at any office! If they look too confused I’ll give them my “Mexican” name “Beti Hanna de McManus.” Usually after trying to get all that spelled, they just shrug and do it my way! =)

    Our oldest was born in Honduras. He had to have two last names and they took them from our visas. We didn’t have the choice to do McManus McManus so he is Cameron Alan McManus Hanna. Now he has a cool way to be different, marking him as special!

  3. So you “should” be Angie ….. de Washington, right? Or do they expect you to totally keep your parents’ names even after marriage? I think in Mexico, they traditionally add the husband’s last name with “de” after dad’s last name. Dropping mom’s name. I’m still confused. How the heck do you refer to a family when you can’t say “La Familia Washington”?

    What I love is how in the States on the news, reporters will use the second last name (the matrinomial) as the “official” last name for the person. So Jose Gomez Ramirez is referred to as Mr. Ramirez. They must hate that.

    Even the famous double-named hispanics get messed up. (eg: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ books are often listed under M.) I guess that’s just “the way it is” here. :)

    How about first names that are unpronounceable by Spanish speakers? Mine was easy enough to convert to Estefania. But one of my teammates was Todd. So he became “Toad” or – even better – “Toady.” Kevin and Kim were fun too.

    PS I’m still working on a nickname for you… How bout Boliviana Mama?

  4. The best I can do is with my own last name – Parish. My dad’s original spelling was with two r(s), but while in the military, Uncle Sugar inadvertently dropped one of them. My uncle spells his name with two r(s). My story just isn’t as colorful as yours, though.

  5. Very interesting post. That’s just the way it is…

    I love looking into family trees and finding the roots. As Americans it’s great to see from whence we came. Most all of us came from another part of the world… immigrants.

    Have a blessed day, Angie! ;)

  6. if I were there I guess I would be… Darla jean Cole DeWald Lentz Frantz if the good Lord ever lets me come that is what I am using..LOL you like it?

    I grew up with lots of mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and lots of them have two names..My step fathera last name is Shank, so most of them called me Darla Lentz Shank..I always thought it was funny.

  7. @DaRonn – Thanks babe, that means alot coming from you.

    @Rehanna – Lightbulb moment! I love it! :-)

    @Beti Hanna de McManus – Si, se como es llenar todos los papeles en las oficinas. Que interesante que tu hijo esta nombrado asi. Es bien especial.

    @pastor paRish – So your name has been streamlined. cool!

    @Michelle – Heritage lines are very interesting to me as well.

    @Darla jean Cole DeWald Lentz Frantz – I like it very much. I will be getting that petition in to the Lord right away so he will let you come.

  8. Cutural patterns of recording ansestry are facinating to me. This was really interesting, Angie. Thanks for posting. If my daughter would like to keep her maiden name I will support her, however, something I’ve noticed gals doing is simply making their maiden name a second middle name to avoid the hyphen. Seems like the hyphen became a lot of work for some folks. So I’ve heard anyway when teaching. Of course it works for some and that’s fine too. For me personally I thought about the fact that the names being passed along are still on the paternal side, so for to have hyphened (was very vougue when I got married) I still would have been hyphenating my grandfather’s on my father’s side to my husband’s grandfather’s on his father’s side’s last names. It became exaughsting so I kept it simple. But that is just me. No judgement to how ever folks or culters approach from this chick.

    Blessings, and thanks again for the blogging help. ~Roxx

  9. @Roxx – The punctuation is a whole other story with all the accents and squiggles over certain letters a document can be proclaimed false if one of those goes missing or is added on unintentionally. I am with you; let’s keep it simple.

  10. I find it very confusing to read obituaries and wedding announcements in the newspapers with the name thing…I’m not really sure how they keep it all straight!

    My husband’s name is Miguel Angel Aguirre Martinez…thus, I am Rebecca Ann Conduff de Aguirre and I actually had to officially change my Rebecca Ann Aguirre to the other name in my U.S. passport for my Venezuelan paperwork. Luckily, it was no big deal…now when our kids were born, we had trouble deciding what to do…we finally gave them all Aguirre-Conduff as their last names, but now wish that we’d left off the – because it creates confusion back home…but at least the Latin countries are happy! LOL

  11. @SSBB-BFF – Please don’t get upset with WordPress, but for some reason your comment got eaten by the spam monster. I valiantly rescued it, so no worries.

    Here the blushing bride gets to decide weather to tack the ‘de name’ on to her name, not add it at all, or have it replace one of her last names. It is so confusing.

    That is the second time in the last two days that Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been mentioned to me. I really need to get my hands on some of his books.

    Ok… now if you go with Boliviana Mama does that mean my initials are BM? Not fair!

  12. I remember wondering about that when the US Baseball All Star Game was played in Pittsburgh (2006), and all the players were wearing “RCW” patches in honor of Roberto Clemente / Roberto Clemente Walker.

    If Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico were known by his matrimonial family name, he’d be Bill Lopez. (That fact was brought up during Governor Richardson’s run for the Presidency – finishing 3rd or 4th, as I recall)

  13. I feel so ignorant. I am culturally ignorant!!! As I can’t travel right now, I’ll just keep reading, I guess. I learn so much from you, Angie (yeah, BM may not be the best initials LOL).

  14. Due to the haste in updating my last passport in order to make it to my 2nd Israel trip I had to have both my maiden & married name on it because my already purchased plane tickets were in my maiden name (due to my old passport being in my maiden name). I literally got my new passport 3 hours before boarding the flight in Newark to Israel. And do to having the new formated passport (the one with the chip in it), I also carried my birth certificate AND my marriage license as no one had ever seen the new passports…they had just came out that week!

    Thus, according to my passport I am “Lysbeth Jane Kleeman Jordan” and ONLY on my passport. Oh…and when I fly, due to all my frequent flyer cards all being in my maiden name AND the fact that each one needs a copy of my marriage licsence in order to change my name on them, I always purchase my airline tickets using “Lysbeth Kleeman”. Which means I must always fly with my passport and then I get my frequent flyer miles!

    What a MESS!

  15. @Lysbeth – I would think that the ‘mess’ you explained might lead to an identity crisis or something. Whew – good thing you have kept yourself sane amidst all that!

  16. Wow, thanks for the culture lesson! So interesting how differently people see things. A guy I work with is from Mexico, and I think he was explaining something similar about his kids names. It was confusing at the time.

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