Toolbox Tuesday: Cultural Last Names

For those who write characters who are non-white, there are some things to keep in mind when giving characters last names. For example, a Hispanic person often has two "last" names, indicating both parents' fathers' last names. A good example of this is on this page here. Long story short, a Hispanic person typically has the first part of their father and mother's last names in that order as their last name. A child of Mr. Martinez Gonzalez and Mrs. Montez Sanchez would have a child by Mr. (or Mrs.) Martinez Montez.

It is also typical for Hispanics upon marriage for the wife to keep her previous last name. This is not uncommon among minorities. For example, a Chinese name is never changed when a woman is married. She keeps her original last name and is the only one in her family with that last name in her Chinese name. She is free to change her English last name legally if she would like, but not all women do this. It is also common for a woman to attach her husband's Chinese character to the beginning of her name so that her name is four characters long instead of just three.

There is also a such thing as two character Chinese names, but those are rarer. Typically, most Chinese people have three characters in their names.

Hope that this brief post offered some insight, and please inform me about other cultures and things people are usually unaware of that can be extremely important!

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