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Re: A New Language

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Monday, August 19, 2002, 17:17
Jan van Steenbergen scripsit:

> But that would mean that the number of people with a surname will decline > steadily.
That happens with Western patrilineal surnames too, though more slowly. Eventually every family has only daughters in some generation (by chance) and the name disappears. In particular, Tristan da Cunha, a British possession in the South Atlantic, first settled in 1817, and now with a population of about 300, has only eight surviving surnames: Glass, Green, Swain, Hagan, Rogers, Repetto, Lavarello, and Patterson (of which the last is a very recent addition).
> If two people with a surname can have only one child with a surname, one of the > two will disappear. > If none of the two partners has a surname, no new surname will emerge. > So, after a while, there will be only one surname left, and its possessor or > one of his heirs is doomed to die childless, so that the whole surname concept > eventually disappears. > > How do you handle that problem? Perhaps by offering the possibility that = > people > can be "knighted" with a surname because of extraordinary merits?
Indeed, perhaps it is better to think of these names as titles of nobility ("Baron X") rather than surnames as Westerners know them. In the U.K., where only a peer's eldest son becomes a peer, there are very few really ancient peerages -- most are modern creations. -- John Cowan "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I am surrounded by dwarves." --Murray Gell-Mann


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
andrew <hobbit@...>