My last name maybe Varsavsky but I live in Spain, a country of Fernandez, Perez, Dominguez, Martin (yes my name is much common as my last name here), in short a country in which probably 50% of the population shares 10 last names. And Spain is not alone in this. China and Korea for example are notorious for having very few last names that millions share. Why is this a problem? The obvious answer is the internet. On Facebook alone see what happens if you try to find a certain Carlos Garcia, or a Juan Fernandez, and the same is true in Google searches. Now being this the case isn´t it time that governments make it easy for people to change their last names? Will we see any Juan Fernandezz popping up soon? I don´t know but I am happy to be the only Martin Varsavsky in the world. I would be uncomfortable if there were thousands of people with my name.

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luis on October 31, 2007  · 

Para esto esta el uso de los dos apellidos… para distingir los Carlos Lopez Perez de los Carlos Lopez Rodriguez 😉

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Sp on November 1, 2007  · 

May I suggest the use of the “second last name” as in several Latin countries?
That may be a better way of stop ignoring the mother line.
If both parents contribute equally to their sons or daughters, at least genetically, why ignore the mother in our last names?

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Lance Knobel on November 2, 2007  · 

As the only Lance Knobel in the world, I agree. In the late ’60s, Sweden created a list of Swedish-sounding names because a social democracy has a hard time sorting through multiple Eric Ericssons, Lars Larsons and Anders Andersons. I think at the time the government offered a bonus for people willing to change their last name to the new, approved list.

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Eric Stobber on November 2, 2007  · 

If I were you and I’d live in Spain, I’d rather prefer to be called Martin Garcia than Martin Varsavsky.

Being called Varsavsky, everybody knows that you are an immigrant which provokes the rejection of a large group of the Spanish population.

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Milan Matejka on November 3, 2007  · 

The previous entry made me a bit thinking. I do agree with Martin that having unusual and unique name is an advantage for unusual people. As well I would enjoy having such a name. Martin’s name and surname would be probably found common in the Czech Republic where I originate from. I simply do not believe that there is any country in Europe in which you must pretend to be a native citizen (even if you are), not even Spain.

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El Griego on November 3, 2007  · 

First it is interesting that you only published this in your english version. Why would that be? Did you thought your spanish (From Spain I mean) readers will get offended? I do not think that has stopped you before 🙂

Second, I have also a similar situation as you have, my last names are Papadopulos Murra, and I was born and live in Mexico, and my name is Miguel, so I am happy that I have a not very common name.

I agree with some of the other comments and I do not know the reason not to use the mother’s last name more often in non-latin countries; but I think this is a very interesting subject in an era in which identity theft is the number 1 “white collar” crimes, and is the one growing the most.

What benefits or threats there would be if the governments made it easy to change your name?

I would like your comments, Thanks.

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Jose Luis on November 4, 2007  · 

Hi, Martin
I wouldn´t be so sure about being the only Martin Varsavsky in the world. Give it a little time and another one might post a reply right here (but maybe that is what you were aiming at…).

I agree that it is a good idea to have more variety in last names. In fact, I thought that in Spain that was pretty common, with last names reverting to e.g. Catalan or Basque (even some of dubious basque origin such as Bakero).

Now that parents may change the order of the last names for their kids, so that the mother´s line may go first, I expect people to resort to that to have the odd-sounding or illustrious last name first, let´s see what happens.

As a Spaniard, I would tell Eric that, a foreign last name does not entail a negative reaction, sometimes it can be the other way round, it all depends. At any rate, I am profoundly grateful for the contribution of inmigrants to life in Spain, and if they are like Martin, I would like boatloads of them a.s.a.p., no doubt about it!!

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Juan Navidad on November 4, 2007  · 

Hello, Martin,

I think that the problem it is not just names or surnames, but the combination between common names with common surnames. For instance, Martin (Martín in Spanish) is a very usual name -also a surname, as you have pointed before-. But in your case, you have a very usual name with a less common surname. So the problem is not to be a “John Fhipletoe”, but one of the thounsands of “John Smith”s that live in the world.

I am one of the few people in the world who has changed and thus choosed his name (not the surnames, that I do not use) because some friends of mine started calling me “Juan Navidad” instead of my name, “Juan Jesús” in the beggining of the 90s. I enjoyed so much the change that took officially this wonderfull and magic combination :P.

The step I took later is avoid my surnames and change them into:
Juan Navidad(my real name) Punto Com
(Juan Navidad Dot Com in English)


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Martin Varsavsky on November 5, 2007  · 


I have a hard time imaging how I could have been received any better in this great country.

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