Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reader Request: Understanding Peruvian Names

From grandhaventribune.com
Updated 11 October 2015

Peruvians usually have at least one given name and two last names. On Peruvian birth certificates there is no section for middle names. There is only a part for prenombres (given names) and then the father's last name and the mother's last name. When talking about someone, you usually only use their first (the father's) last name. Here's an example of how children get their names. (accent marks have been omitted):
  • Mother: Maria Jose Sanchez Perez
  • Father: Miguel Angel Rodriguez Gonzalez
  • Son: Juan Pedro Rodriguez Sanchez
  • Daughter: Maria Pia Rodriguez Sanchez
When a woman gets married she may add "de" (which usually shows marriage) and her husband's first last name or keep her name as it is. For example, if the daughter above gets married, here's what her name could be:
  • Daughter: Maria Pia Rodriguez Sanchez (if she keeps her name)
  • Daughter: Maria Pia Rodriguez Sanchez de Hernadez (if she changes her name)
  • Husband: Carlos Diego Hernandez Garcia
If she changed her name due to marriage, she will be forced by Peruvian law to change it back to her maiden name. Idiotic. Way to go Peru for having equal rights. It doesn't matter why she's getting divorced (ie her husband could have cheated on her or abused her) or how long she'd been married (even if it's 25 years), she will still have to change it.

If Carlos dies, then Maria Pia would probably be known as his widow (viuda) and that will be added to her name colloquially even if she never changed it.
  • Daughter: Maria Pia Rodriguez Sanchez Vda de Hernadez
  • Husband: Carlos Diego Hernandez Garcia
"de" in names
It can get more complicated if the person already has "de" in their name. For example:
  • Before marriage: Maria de la Soledad Rodriguez Sanchez  
  • After marriage: Maria de la Soledad Rodriguez Sanchez de Hernadez
  • Before marriage: Maria Rodriguez Hector de las Torres 
  • After marriage: Maria Rodriguez Hector de las Torres de Hernadez
Sigh. Men don't change their names when they get married. Maybe someday they'll be like Brazilian men and change their names.

Names can get really complicated in Peru, but it's really cool to learn more about names and the history that goes along with them. I also like the fact that children get their father's and their mother's last names. One tip to remember is that speaking Spanish will help you greatly. Knowing Spanish will help you assimilate to the culture and you'll be able to communicate easier. If you're looking to learn Spanish, Fluenz Spanish, Rosetta Stone, and Synergy Spanish.

The Ultimate Peru List recommends:


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