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May 19, 2022 43 mins

Surnames are way more interesting that you think, trust us. Just hit play and prepare to be wowed.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You Should Know, a production of I
Heart Radio. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark,
and there's Charles w Chuck Bryant. It's just the two
of us, kind of like old time soun Chuck sure,

(00:21):
and this is Stuff you should It's not the full
thing without Jerry. That's right. But you said you're Josh Clark,
don't you mean Josh Clerk. Yeah, that is what my
my name is from. It's one of the most boring
names you could have, but it is my last name.
And that's what we're talking about. I don't even know

(00:42):
my I mean, I know the like country of origin
and stuff for Bryant, but I don't really know. Like
this is one of those episodes where I was constantly going, oh,
that's where that came from. Oh, that's interesting, but I
didn't have anything for me. I have something for you, friend.
You got the origin of Bryant, No origin of Wayne. Okay,

(01:06):
let's hear it. It denotes a driver or builder of wagons.
That's you, buddy in a nutshell, Well that was my surname. Yeah, yeah,
but I mean it still works for your middle name
is sound like it just loses all meaning when it
gets moved to the middle. Right, builder wagons, it's me
or driver. You could have been a driver to truck
wagon or or a double trouble a builder driver of wagons. Right.

(01:32):
So that's that's it. But we're not talking about middle names.
We're never really talking about first names. We're talking about surnames,
which if you've ever been confused about which one that is,
it's the last name, it's the family name. Yes, And
depending on where you live in the world, it might
come before your first name, it might come after it.
There might be a couple of surnames involved, there may

(01:55):
be a hyphen joining them. Um, there's a lot of
different things you can do with surnames. And like you,
I was like, okay, there's actually a lot of interesting
stuff to this, So good pick, and thanks to the
grabster for helping us out. Yeah, and you know Ed
will feature later on because I don't want to spoil
it yet. But his last name is interesting because this

(02:18):
Polish and Polish names are generally interesting and how they're
and how they look on paper on the page and
are often changed. So we're just we're gonna float that
out there as a teaser. We're gonna be talking about
Ed's last name and speaking of being on paper. I
thought it was a polished name all this time. Glad
you said something first. Uh. The deal with surnames, though,

(02:42):
is they have been around a lot less long. That's
one way to say it than a given name or
a first name. Like first names, they came first, like
from the beginnings of people, like with Took Took. People
wanted to call each other things, and so people would
just give each other names. But surnames were invented much

(03:04):
much much later for reasons we're going to talk about
kind of around Dish the eleventh century. Yeah, that's for
like England, Western Europe. Um. There were places where they
came along much earlier, like I think in China they've
been in use for three thousand years as far as
we can tell. And then in Rome there were different

(03:25):
naming conventions that had two names, sometimes three names, you know,
a couple of thousand years ago. So yeah, surnames are
in England at least or the Western Europe. Uh, they
are definitely latecomers, is relatively speaking. Yeah, and you know,
one of the reasons, uh, you might think, like why
would you need a surname, and there are a bunch

(03:47):
of reasons, um, one of which, like one of the
earliest reasons was that people, you know, there were more
people being born, and so your little quaint town that
had you know, John and in Jane everyone who John
and Jane were. But then as more and more people
are born, that town gets bigger and bigger. There's more
John's and Jane's. It was literally just like a way

(04:10):
to differentiate people, yeah, exactly. And then also as people
started to travel more, um there there that also kind
of called for people that differentiate themselves a little bit too. So, um,
population pressure is a really good reason, a really good
explainer for why there were such things as surnames. Why

(04:31):
they came along. There's just more people, so you needed
to be able to say no, not Jane, that Jane,
the other Jane. People got really sick of doing that,
especially if a third Jane came along, they just pull
their hair out and be mad all the time. Right.
And then by the time people own property or had
like legal things to transfer to one another, titles and

(04:53):
things like that, then you had to have surtinnames. So uh, nobles,
of course, you know, there's you know, a lot of
class that plays into this because a certain class of
people were landowners and had official titles. So these nobles
adopted these surnames, or maybe the monarchs that you have
to have a surname because we need to know your

(05:13):
you know, the rights of succession of your land or
you know, it's just gotta all legally check out. So
we just being John isn't enough anymore. Yeah, it was. Um,
it's strange to think of, but naming somebody and like saying,
either choose a name or I'm going to choose one
for you. It was a way for the ruling class
of a civilization to like basically track people, keep them

(05:36):
in line, keep you know, one group from you know,
marrying another group, and consolidating power. Um. And it's interesting
because they think that, you know, in China, one of
the reasons why uh they surnames came along three thousand
years ago was because of population pressure, but also because
the Zoo dynasty. And I'm probably not saying that correctly.

(05:58):
I think it's z h O. You is that right?
I'm gonna go with yao. I'm just kidna. I'm feeling
a little spicy today. I thought it was h A
O or am I thinking of something different? Okay? So
even more I'm going with Jao okay. But anyway, the
Joo dynasty was saying, um, like, you know, we want
to keep track of you nobles, and a good way

(06:19):
to do that is to like label something. That's how
you keep track of something. And that's that's one of
the other reasons why these um surnames came along in
China and the same thing played out um you know,
a couple of thousand years later in England for basically
the same reasons. That's right, by the way, I was wrong.
It is the h O wor I'm sorry, oh you okay,

(06:40):
I'm gonna go with jaw then. Okay, are you talking
about William the First Yeah, the Conqueror and his Doomsday book, which, boy,
if there was ever a book that was mistitled, it's
not Doomsday. It's Domesday D O M E S D
A Y. But when you look at it very you

(07:01):
just want to say doomsday book. Yeah, But what it
was it was just a survey of land and landowners
and tight six and William the First commission this thing
and basically said, all right, we got a book now,
so all these informal names aren't going to do it,
so we have to have an official historical record of
this stuff, So pick a surname. Yeah. It was almost

(07:25):
like taking a snapshot of like the conventions and the
customs of naming people at the time, because William the
Conqueror didn't say, you know, you have to have a
surname now. It was more like whatever you go by,
you're going to go down in this book as that
and that basically solidified and created that tradition of passing

(07:46):
down surnames. From that point on, it kind of like
kept it going. What is so funny? I'm just trying
to think, do you want to be John the a
hole the rest of your life? Exactly? That's what you're
known as around town. But if you have a chance
or to rewrite things, Yeah, and if you go back
and look, there's a a website that uh that um

(08:07):
ed found. I'll try to find it later, but it's
basically just uh, a tittering tour through medieval England and
some of the horrific last names people got saddled with
for nicknames and that became like their last name like
stuff we just can't even possibly say on this podcast. Yeah,
and uh, Ed points out too, and um, just since

(08:29):
we're talking about that, that sarcasm is not a recent invention.
So you might be uh called something like you maybe
John Goodman, Well not John Gidman. You could be John Goodman.
I'm just going with John for everything. Uh, when you
were like a very like not nice dude, somebody might
have said Goodman as a good man. Yeah, as a

(08:49):
sort of a nod and a wink or a joke
or a play on words. Like imagine if John Goodman
were basically like Russell Crowe gets the point across, he's
still on Wrestle Crew. I'm I'm trying to throw back here, man,
I'm trying to bring everybody back to our period of
comfort rather than moving along with everyone else. But it's

(09:11):
interesting you mentioned medieval the medieval period because the Roman
system that you talked about, which eventually evolved to a
three name system. I think at first, or I guess,
before Rome, in different civilizations they had single names. But
then the Romans came along and they had what was

(09:31):
called a prey I guess prey Noman, which would be
the equivalent of a given name. Then the Noman which
what we would think of as the last name, and
then later on, if you were like an elite, you
would have a third name, the cognomen uh if you
wanted to like show off a little bit and show
your status. But it went away after the Romans for
a long time and then came back with the Europeans. Yeah,

(09:55):
it's really interesting that like the Europeans had all this
influence the Chinese had already in I ended this for
a couple of thousand years, and it just kind of
like evolved in isolation later on. So it really kind
of does just go to go to show you like
surnames are just once you reach a certain point of
you know, a civilization or a population growth, it's just

(10:18):
something that's just going to come up inevitably organically. It's
pretty neat. It is pretty neat. Um and we I
know we mentioned um. Some Asian names, I think Korean
and Japanese and Chinese are traditionally written with the surname
first and then you're given name. And then just a
few years ago, Japan I think formally enshrined that and said,
you know, we're not gonna western ize this anymore. We're

(10:40):
gonna go with the surname first. Yeah, they're going back
to their roots. I love it. A new kind of suit.
That's right. You you got that one really? Yeah? Sure, man, Chuck,
I'm impressed. Uh, she'll be. Well, since you're impressed, let's
take a break, because I don't I want to. I
want to just like bathe in that for minute. I

(11:00):
think it's a wise move, or rather two minutes, and uh,
we'll be back and talk about the different types of
surnames and why they came about right after this defin

(11:26):
sk Alright. So, um, what's interesting is that surnames, you know,
take all sorts of different shapes and forms, and there's
actually some cultures that just don't have them or don't
use them. I believe, Um, the Philippines didn't use surnames
until they were colonized by um Europeans. Um. So I mean,

(11:48):
there's some some cultures that don't use surnames at all.
But among the cultures that do use surnames in different
way shape, way, shapes and forms, there's actually some commonalities
almost universality amongst our names and where they came from
and what they mean. Um. And there's at least four
or five that you can kind of hack out that. Say,
wherever you go in the world, if they're using surnames,

(12:10):
they may have some sort of like version of this. Yeah,
and this is the stuff that's really cool. I think. Um,
and this found me saying, you know, because ed gives
a bunch of great examples of a surname, and then
when you find out how it evolved to be that,
you just go, oh, well, that completely makes sense. Now.

(12:30):
Uh well, I was about to say something about jobs,
but we'll get to jobs a minute. Um. First though,
is place names, specific place names. If you were and
I think a lot of people know this one, but
if you were from a place, you might have been
Chuck of Atlanta, or you know, if it was in Europe,
it might you might have substituted d E for the Latin,

(12:52):
like chuck d Atlanta, and then over time that d um.
There's this this process that happens to words, where if
you use a word for a thousand years, it gets
kind of molded and shaped and um and cut down
to a more manageable size. You're saying L and OMG

(13:12):
right exactly or l m f A oh because party
rock is in the house tonight. Um. But it's called truncation.
And the same thing happens with names too, So instead
of Chuck day Atlanta, it could just become chuckd Atlanta,
d apostrophe Atlanta, which is very kind of nice, like
I like the way that rings that Atlanta. Um, Yeah,

(13:36):
you have to say it like that, or you could
just get rid of that apostrophe and make it one
word chucked Atlanta, right, And that actually happened like that
with the name Darcy. Um. It used to be um
somebody a day r C r C is a village
I believe in France, or Normandy maybe um, And then
over time it became d apostrophe r C as in

(13:56):
Jefferson Darcy from Married with Children, or just Darcy d
A r c y as in Mr Darcy from Pride
and Prejudice, who I presume Jefferson Darcy's character is based on.
But if you have the name Darcy, um, you can
almost I mean, there are other ways that you can

(14:17):
acquire last surname, which will we'll see kind of along
the way, but Um, chances are you can probably trace
that back to the fact that someone in your lineage
was from Arc. Yes. Um. And it also suggests that
some somewhere back in your lineage, somebody was probably of
uh noble lineage, because it was the nobles who would
have taken the place that they were from as their surname,

(14:41):
because number one, they would go off to court, so
they would be I'm Jefferson Darcy, so you know, not
Jefferson d Atlanta, Jefferson Darcy, I'm the one from Darcy
or from Arcy. Right, Um, a commoner from r c
would have no reason to to say that they're from
Arcy because they don't ever leave Arci. They spent their

(15:03):
entire life there exactly. And then also, um, it would
let people know that you were, um you basically like
ruled that land that you were from. That was that
was that And it's called a toponymic name. Um, where
you're it's a place name that you've taken as your
last name. That's right. If you were a commoner, like

(15:25):
you said, you would not be Chuck of Atlanta because
I was I grew up a commoner because I could
make no claim that I ruled Atlanta back in the
medieval times or post medieval times. Um, and everyone else
would have that name too. And in my little neighborhood
that didn't have a lot of money, let's say, but
you might have a really local name that is um

(15:51):
more like topographic. Like if your last name is hill
or under hill or green, then chances are you're you know,
distant relatives lived on a hill or on a green
or under a hill. I don't know if that there
were cave dwellers, but those are literally named. There's a
name by water. I've never really heard that, but you

(16:11):
know it literally means you live by the water. Yeah,
there's some really nice names that have to do with water.
Um as that served his last names like bay, shore, bay, meadow. Um.
I think those are very pleasant, but that I never
really realized that means that their family lived by a bay,
by a meadow. I guess last names. Those are very

(16:32):
nice last names. And then um, Chuck. I also realized
just now when you were talking, that you could have
rightly called yourself chuck unpaved road right, Sure that would
have that would have definitely placed you there. Yeah. Yeah,
I grew up on a chuck to gravel. Yeah. The

(16:54):
via Graville another locator or I guess topographic. Um, it's
sort of along those same lines. If you ever hear
anyone with the last name of like Scott or Western.
Western is a great example. It's a great last name
or the last name Ireland that you know, those are
just very quite literal last names taken because chances are

(17:17):
they moved to a different place and maybe that was
a different rentiator, like there, you know that maybe they
even called the person from Ireland that moved to a
place not in Ireland, Ireland, right exactly. They were probably emigrants,
you know, they were the Scott who just showed up
that everybody liked, you know, the Scott Okay, yeah, John Scott,

(17:37):
the Scott school, right exactly. Um. It's also like in
that movie Zombie Land, where everybody's called where they're from.
I don't remember that, Yeah, I think, Um, what's his name,
Jesse Eisenberg. Isn't that who's in it? Yeah? He he's
like Columbus And I can't remember what Woody Harrelson where

(17:57):
he's from? Text maybe or some something like that. I know, gotcha. Yeah,
I just wanted to give a Zombie Land shout out.
You know, it's a good movie. It really was surprisingly so.
Um or if you're just finished several you just have
a last initial like Mark s Well, I just watched

(18:19):
it twice because Emily didn't watch it the first go round,
and I was like, I think you would like this actually,
so um, I watched it all the way through again,
so I obviously loved it. But that boy, that season
Family was to st at minute panic attack. It really was,
and one of the most unfair cliffhangers history of TV
really was, but really really good stuff. Love it. So

(18:42):
um moving on, Chuck Um. One of the other things
we could have adopted as our surnames if that were
a thing, like people were still taking new surnames, we
could be Josh Podcaster and Chuck Podcaster. Yeah. I mean
I love this one because this is uh, probably the
most common way that someone would get a surname. I
think more than ten of English surnames are because of

(19:07):
an occupation in your lineage. So you know, Karen Carpenter,
she had someone way back in her family that was
a Carpenter probably, or Earl Weaver had a Weaver in
his family, and uh any Smith. I mean, well that's
not true because there is a thing too where a
lot of time immigrants would adopt the name like one
of the most common names when they would immigrate to

(19:28):
a country to fit in, so there might be smith's
acquired that way. But uh, if you were a smith,
then you had the last name Smith, right, um. Or
Clark is a derivative of clerk, which was yeah at
the time, not just some some pencil pusher. It was
a scholarly person who could read and write at a
time when most people couldn't read it. Oh yeah, yeah,

(19:52):
my ancestors was real smart. Um. Thatcher is another example
of an occupation le based or shepherd. Uh. These are
all very obvious, but one kind of cool little oh
moments is in medieval England they would use s t
e r or x t e r as a suffix

(20:13):
if it was a woman's occupation, So a baker would
become Baxter or brewer would become Brewster. That's right, um,
so uh, and that's that holds not just for England,
but like if you went to Germany and your last
name Schmidt, it's it's the same thing as if you
were in England and your last name Smith, because there

(20:34):
was somebody in your lineage that was a blacksmith, which
is pretty cool. Um. And it was almost like like
I was saying when that Doomsday book was was um
when it came out. Sure, it was like a snapshot
of professions at the time. UM. And apparently within about
three d four hundred years the use of surnames had

(20:57):
solidified enough that people became weird for the tradition of
it being weird for us to say I'm changing my
last name to podcaster because it's my job, that had
really kind of solidified. People weren't taking on new surnames,
they were getting them passed along, and so um. Professions
that came after the fourteenth and fifteen centuries don't usually

(21:17):
pop up very often as people's last name. No, but
it's funny now that I'm thinking my Instagram handle is
Chuck the Podcaster, I should podcast. I should change it
to de ampost future. That'd be pretty fun. I think
that's a great idea, Charles. Another fun thing that Ed
found was sometimes actors back in the day would um,

(21:42):
sort of with a nod and a wink, take a
surname of a character that they played a lot. And
anyone that knows the origins of the theater knows that
actors were. You know, they're not like they are to day.
They were generally sort of the lower class. And so
if you that, that would like sort of explain away
why you might find someone of the of a lower

(22:04):
class maybe with the last name king or lord, because
they might have been an actor who played a king
or a lord a lot. Yes. Uh. And then nicknames
play a really big role across cultures. Uh. And again
this is kind of what they think the tradition of
first names came out of. Like your your first name
was not necessarily John or Jim or Josh or Chalk

(22:27):
or anything like that way back in the day. It
was probably just the initial differentiator for you, you you know,
like instead of that guy, No, no, not that guy.
That guy they would say, you know red or apparently
sherlock means fair headed. Um. They would also they would

(22:48):
apparently if you did things with say like your penis,
you might end up with a nickname name like Shakespeare
they think is actually that or Wagstaff they think are
actually leap from from that kind of lewd uh toilet humor,
lowbrow humor that people used to love in the medieval era.

(23:09):
Oh yeah, I mean there was you know, I mean
Shakespeare itself was sort of body. But I took an
English class where we did. Uh. I took a couple
of like, um, not play writing. Well, I did take
play writing, but play reading classes. What would you call that? Uh? Yeah,
play reading had a better name than that. Uh. And

(23:30):
a lot of the place that we read from the
time period that weren't Shakespeare were just toilet humor, blue humor,
dirty body humor. And it's not like that's just gone anywhere.
I mean, I made a marry but children reference not
twenty minutes ago, so it's still around, although married with
children is not around anymore. But you know what I'm saying.
But I would pose it that, like sophisticated intelligent humor

(23:55):
is a pretty recent invention, you know. I'm sure there
are gets of it here there over time, Like Benjamin
Franklin had a pretty sharp wit, and he was he
was of an intelligent humor. No, you're right. I mean
the first joke was pulled my finger, let's be honest, right,
And that lasted a long time and people use that
until that well went dry. But I think it's a

(24:17):
fairly recent thing. And I think, um, you know, I
think that's kids introduction to humor is like lowbrow toilet humor.
But I think it's a pretty big marker based on
how fast you you evolve into intelligent humor. Yeah, oh
for sure. Like my daughter's her the funniest words for
her are or when she's trying to make a joke.

(24:37):
Like kids don't make really good jokes. No, they don't. Uh,
they're all because they're not sophisticated yet. But they sure
do like to talk about your you know, having poop
in your hair and stuff like that. You know, it
is a pretty good one. And me laughing certainly doesn't help. No,
definitely not. Does Emily get mad or does she laugh too, No,
she just walks through the room and goes, she got

(24:58):
that from you, so she is of your own making.
And I'm like, yeah, I said, I actually do have
poop in my hair. It's not a joke. And then say,
pull my finger, Emily, I probably should take back like
my little soapbox thing condemning toilet and low brow humor,
because it is still kind of funny now that you
mentioned it. Yeah, I love it. I mean I like both.

(25:19):
I like a sharp wit and I like a fart joke,
all all at the same time. That chuck makes you
a renaissance man. Alright, good. Uh if you, Well, I
was trying to tie that into what I was about
to say next, but I really couldn't think of a
good last name for that. But um, if you Another
very common surname convention is if you were the son

(25:41):
or daughter of somebody and if John was your dad,
you would be Johnson or Smithson. Uh. Sometimes it was
even more basic than that, like if your name was
It gives the example of someone named Martin and then
as some named George, they might just take the dad's
name and be George Martin. Right. Uh. And that's typically

(26:02):
especially in Western Europe in the UK. Um, that's it's
it took the father's lineage. So it's patronymic. Is that
kind of naming convention, And there is such a thing
as matronymic naming conventions. It's just much rarer in h
in our cultures. Um, but it does happen, Like Marriott

(26:23):
means a child of Mary. Um. Yeah, so it happens
from time to time. It's just much less common. Um.
But that is a like you said, it's a very
common thing to name to take a relative's name, and
it happens in It's a bunch of different ways um
and a good example of how how you know different
it can be as in Icelandic culture to where um,

(26:46):
if you're a son, say you're the son of Eric
um you of course yeah, um, your your last name
would be eric Son if you were a son, if
you were a daughter, you would be Eric's daughter. So
Eric has a son and a daughter, and they're both

(27:09):
his son and daughter, but they have two different last names.
And the reason why Iceland is not catching fire and
people are running all over the place and confusion is
because they don't really care as much about last names. Yeah,
this is kind of cool because Ed brought up b
York and she doesn't just go by B York to

(27:29):
be like Madonna. B York goes by BI York because
in Icelandic culture, the surname just isn't that big of
a deal. Uh. And so I looked up her surname
and be York's surname is actually and I'm going to
mispronounce this because I have no idea about Icelandic stuff,
but is it's Guman's daughter, which is of course d

(27:52):
O T T I R. Because her father was Gumander Goonerson.
That's a great which means that his father was named Gooner, right,
so it's sort of this weird flip as you go back.
It's like almost like a little puzzle, a little Icelandic puzzle.
It is. It's pretty cool. And then also in a

(28:14):
stroke of awesomeness, um, Iceland has also come up with
a third uh, a third name for non binary gendered people, Um,
who don't go by son or daughter, they go by Burr.
So it would be Eric Burr. That's right, and that
you know, that's the thing now with especially with hyphen nations.

(28:35):
We'll get to why you might change your name, but um,
you know, one of the sort of I feel like
it's kind of antiquated, but one of the things that
we do here in the West sometimes is a woman
that might take her husband's last name or they might
hyphenate it. But with uh, you know, non binary parents
or gay parents, sometimes they will hyphenate their last name,

(28:57):
which you know, apparently can present a little bit of
the conflict sometimes in that there uh struggle too, I
guess have a non traditional family but also sort of
try and fit in with a more traditional naming convention. Yeah,
which I had never considered, And that's sad. That that
is even a question, but it makes sense in a

(29:18):
sad kind of way. Go Iceland, now, huh yeah. And
then also, um, we really shouldn't leave our Arab cultures
who use Ibben first son of or if the name
Ibben comes in the middle of the name, maybe been
or Bent as daughter of, and it usually can go
back a couple of generations, sometimes three, which explains why

(29:40):
there's a lot of ebbins or bins um followed by
other names in somebody's full name from Arab cultures. That's right.
Or Ed gives a great example of Saddam Hussein was
Saddam Hussein abdal Magid al tecret and Saddam would be
the given name there, Hussein would be the father's name.

(30:03):
Abdol Mageed is grandfather's name. Then al Tecredi is where
he grew up. So that's sort of a a mesh
of topic or not topographic. I guess, uh what do
we call the geographic? Yeah, toponymic and then the patriarchal
and everything's just sort of matched together and with his grandfather.

(30:26):
Will you want to take another break and then come
back and talk more about I don't know surnames. Sure, Okay,
we're gonna do that. Everybody sit tight, sk uh. So

(30:55):
one thing we didn't cover with um the uk uh.
We got to cover the max oh yeah, and the
the A P S. So, if you were Irish or Scottish,
the prefix mac would what would mean son of So
if your name was Dougal and you had a son
named John, you would be John MacDougal. Or in the

(31:19):
case of being from Wales, they use a P to
mean son of so. And this is kind of interesting
because it gets truncated along the way. So ap Rice
r h y s would be son of Rice, but
then over time that gets truncated and the ap just
becomes a P. So the name price originally can vary. Well,

(31:42):
it's hard to say like in all cases obviously, but
I could have very well been like the son of Rice, yeah,
or Reese. So it could also be the last name priest.
That don't sound right right, We're going with Rice instead
and then Chuck. So uh. We talked a little bit
about changing names, and there's all sorts of reasons people
change names. There's also a lot of reasons people take

(32:05):
on names. Again, sometimes it's decreed by law. Apparently there
was a law during the Austro Hungarian Empire that you
needed a last name, and so there was a kind
of a custom or a trend you could almost say,
among Jewish people who lived in that area or under
Austro Hungarian rule, UM to kind of take names from nature,

(32:28):
like Tannenbaum or Rosen meaning fir tree or rose um.
And that's where a lot of the more common Jewish
names come from that have a kind of a Germanic
tone to them. And then also there was a big UM,
there's a big conundrum, ra I guess the decision that
faced UM freed enslaved people after the Emancipatent Proclamation then

(32:53):
later on juneteenth UM, because they didn't actually have surnames
at the time, especially if they'd you know been you know, second, third, fourth,
fifth generation American. Um, they might not have a surname
at all, That's right. And so in many cases, uh,
they were given or sometimes chosen uh, the name of

(33:15):
the person who enslaved them, which obviously, as generations went on,
that doesn't sit as well. Uh. And so a lot
of times, if you're African American, you may change your
name later on, UM, Like you know, many generations later
to sort of shed yourself of that enslaved name. And
then probably the most common reason, especially in the West,
that people um changed their names is through marriage, which

(33:39):
has evolved over time. You know. Traditionally it was the
wife took the husband's last name, shed her own, you know,
maiden name, maybe moved it to her middle name UH,
and then that was it UM. And then over time
there's there's been kind of like this uh um push
against just being completely subsumed by their husband's identity UM.

(34:02):
And that introduced the uh, the hyphenated last name into
Western culture, which again it's like if you go to Spain,
they've been doing that for a very long time, so
much so that like um, you know, the children will
actually have both of their parents last names, father's first
hyphened mother's second. And that's that's been going on. It's

(34:25):
called dosa politos um. But in here, in like the West,
I should say in the United States, because I guess
Spain would technically be the West. UM. That's becoming more
and more common, but it's still fairly new if you
think about it. I mean, I don't remember people hyphenating
their names very commonly before, like the eighties or nineties,
I would say, yeah, I mean, I'm sure it happened,

(34:48):
but it seems like it definitely caught on. Um. You
know obviously was sort of in lockstep with the women's
liberation movement. Yeah, they called it the flash dance effect. Uh,
it's you know, there's there's no wrong way to do it.
People should do what they want to do. I never
wanted or expected Emily to change her name because she's
just She's got a great last name and that's who

(35:09):
she is. And I never I just thought, I don't know,
it seemed outdated to me, but there there is no
right or wrong way. And eventually years later, Um, I
think it was probably lined up. When my daughter came along,
she ended up going with a hyphen it. Uh. And
then you know our very good friend and friend of
the show who played Jerry on the Stuff You Should

(35:29):
Know TV show, Uh, Lucy waynewright Roach, that is a
hyphen it because her father is Loud and Wayne Wright
and her mother is says he Roach, and so she
went with a hyphen it. Yeah. Apparently there's a famous
um bass player for Jethro toll Um. I had not
heard of this. Dude had you did you know had
had not? So his first name is Jeffrey. Will call

(35:52):
him that for the moment. But both of his parents
UM had the last name of Hammond. Yeah, they weren't related.
UM just by him playing bass for Jethro Toll and Um.
He wanted to honor both of them, so he took
the last name Jeffrey Hammond Hammond with the hyphen in
between him. Yeah, it's pretty funny. Yep, good job, Jeffrey.

(36:13):
I know that's pretty great. He got a great story.
Everywhere he goes. Intelligent humor, that's right. Yeah, you think, uh,
somebody who went to a Shakespeare play would get that
now be totally lost on him. One of the myths
we can kind of bust, although I'm sure it happens

(36:34):
some was this notion that if you came through Ellis
Island you were just given whatever name the person at
immigration on Ellis Island felt like filling out, or if
they wanted to shorten it, they shortened it, or if
they want to get rid of some of the hyphens,
they get rid of the hyphens. Apparently, I'm sure that
did happen some, but ung angle man, I could never

(36:55):
say say this Anglish sizing. He nailed it. Yeah, Anglicized
did not happen to the extent that people think it
did on Ellis Island. And many times it was the
people themselves that new country, new start wanted to fit
in that would um drop the apostrophe from Darcy and
stuff like that. Yeah, and I saw that, if anything,
um Ellis Island Uh immigration officers were more prone to

(37:19):
actually correct mistakes and spelling errors that some shipping clerk
over in Europe had made on the ship's manifest Um.
Most of them spoke multiple languages, and we're you know,
pretty familiar with what you know. There's a finite number
of last names, and so if you see one with
the you know, the the name misspelled, they probably corrected it.

(37:41):
So it's kind of yeah, it's like the opposite of
the myth that you have. Yeah. Another thing that people
have done to make it maybe just a little bit
easier on everybody else in themselves is to, uh, if
they have a name that's um kind of a lot
of consonants in it, let's say, yeah, we're looking at
you Slavic countries, is to phonetically spell it out uh

(38:04):
and eds like a tease. At the beginning, Ed's last
name is we always calling the Grabsters Grabnowski, and he
lives in the region where there are a lot of
Polish people still living there. And he says that he
has never seen another Grabowski, but he does see Grabowski's
or Grabski's. Yep, no Grabsters. No, we're trying to make

(38:27):
it happen though, aren't we. Yeah, my friend Paul's last
name is Waslow, but it is not spelled w A
z l o W. I can't even remember how how
it's spelled. But it's not intuitive. But he held onto
it and he didn't he didn't change it phonetically for Paul,
sticking into the man Paul's family. Yes, that's right. Have

(38:50):
you got anything else? I am looking here? Do we
have anything else? Not? Really, nothing of any great interest
if you ask me. Now, I think this is good stuff.
I think it's it's cool. People should check it like.
I'd love to hear some stories from listeners, or maybe
do a little research into your own name and where
it might have come from, because there's a lot of

(39:11):
interesting stories out there. I'd love to hear more. Yeah. Also, Chuck,
by the way, your last name denotes somebody who used
to live by a hill in the Celtic era. Oh really, Bryant, Yes,
derived from Brionne Hill. People pronounced Briony in northern France,
so you're a Frenchy Chuck. Interesting, Yeah, pretty cool? Yeah

(39:37):
dat Atlanta. Well, since Chuck said ha ha, of course,
that means it's time for a listener mail. All right,
I'm gonna call this uh choir math and I should
say that uh Lyle here had a lot of consternation
after Lyle sent this email about because Lyle is a

(40:01):
math person and I think a math teacher about how
Lyle chose to express this so much so that almost
didn't read ex didn't want to call his Lyle any stress.
But I'm gonna read it anyway. And this is about
the church choir coincidence. Uh. When we said one in
a million, he said, did you guys calculate that yourself?
Guessing you repeated it from something else? Because unless I'm

(40:22):
missing something, one out of one million is crazy wrong.
Using the assumptions you stated for two reasons, here we go.
If there are fifteen members and each had a one
quarter chance of being late, the probabilities were equal and independent,
so it was like rolling fifteen four sided dice. Uh,
that would be roughly a one in a billion chance

(40:46):
and number two point two. Even the calculation in one
completely fails to capture what you seem to want to
express the chance of something like this happening, i e.
The simultaneous choire lateness coinciding with the explosion. That would
be trickier to work out. The simplest way to calculate
it would be to decide on the chance of a
nineteen fifty Nebraska church blowing up on a given night

(41:08):
and multiply that by the one in a billion chance above.
So basically it sounds like we did half of the
equation and didn't even do that half. Right, No, that
sounds like us. So he says, you know, did churches
blow off and blow up off in nineteen fifty Nebraska.
But see, you could also say a building blowing up
or a building killing somebody. Like, I don't know where

(41:32):
you draw the line because I'm not a math person
or how you would quantify that. I would think you'd
need to go with churches just to compare apple to apples.
And then also, you know, not every building is going
to invite people into it at seven pm on a
night or something so good point and then actually goes
on to to say it's easy to get overly dazzled

(41:53):
doing calculations like these, And I think that's what we
are now, is overly dazzled dazzled. The more specifically described
have any event or collection of events, the more astronomically
unlikely it becomes. Uh, I e. The chance of my
spaghetti being in this exact configuration or mind bogglingly low. Uh,
pretty amazing story still, and that is from Lyle. That

(42:15):
is classic Lyle, always slipping a spaghetti reference into his emails.
You know. Yeah, that is interesting to think about though, Like,
depending on how far you want to drill down you
can you know, it gets a little nutty totally. But
I like his calculations even better than ours. One in
a million chance kind of dazzling one in a billion chance.
And that's just step one. That's I got stars in

(42:38):
my eyes basically. Wow. Well thanks a lot, Lyle. I'm
sorry for driving you a little bit crazy. Uh. We
are glad that you could take the time to explain
to us, um what we got wrong and not call
us stupid in the in the bargain. Thank you. If
you want to be like Lyle and get in touch
with us, you can send us an email to Stuff

(42:58):
Podcasts at iHeart radio dot com. Stuff you Should Know
is a production of I heart Radio. For more podcasts
my heart Radio, visit the i heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. H

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