What’s in a name?

As I mentioned in my last post, this blog is supposed to be about Spain, or a Canadian in Spain, or a foreign Mom taking pictures of her kid in Spain, or something like that.

The problem is, now I don’t live in Spain.  I live in a parallel universe with more laundry.  I gain tidbits of info about your universe via Facebook.   But I will spare you the details of my newborn focussed micro-world.

However, as friends of mine suggested (second children themselves) we could do worse than take too many photos of Río.  Hell, I’ve exploited the bejesus out of Yago, I might as well subject Río to the same in the name of equality.

Besides, if we don’t get out to capture some visuals of Spain, we  can at least discuss some of the finer points of the culture.

Like, what’s in a name.

Río José Santos Fraser. Quite a handle, isn’t it.

Two accents, no hyphen.   So when the kid has to fill out his tax forms, what boxes does he put all that in?

Río is his first name.  Although the Spanish word for River, Rio is not a Spanish name.  In other words, everyone thinks we are nutcases for naming him after a water course.  So, I tell them it is a very common Canadian name.  They accept that.  And since I can’t roll the R, I can now tell everyone here, “No, it is a Canadian name, which means it is all 46 million of you Spanish people who pronounce it wrong.” And I get my hippy nature name.  Check.

José.  Second name.  As in, the one that usually has to do with distant relatives and that kids get teased about.  Rogelio’s second name is José and there are countless branches on the family tree to credit.  Required traditional family name.  Check.

Santos Fraser.  Here is where it gets fun.  In Spain, everyone has two last names.  The first from their father, the second from their mother.  For women especially, it’s a great system.  No big debate about whether or not to change your name if you get married.  No worries about kids with different last names from unmarried parents.  Nobody here has the same name as their kids.

For example, Rogelio’s Dad’s last names are Santos Franco.  His mother’s last names are Marquez Caro.  So, Rogelio’s last names are Santos Marquez.

Yago and Río take the Santos from Rogelio and Fraser from me to become Santos Fraser.

And I spend a lot of time explaining to bored Spanish bureaucrats that I only have one last name, but they can call me Fraser Fraser if it makes their lives easier.  I’m sure Canadian bureaucrats will add hyphens and subtract accents willy-nilly to appease their forms and boxes.

You just can’t put the Santos Fraser family in a box.  Check.


  1. Odd isn’t it.
    My daughter was born over here in Spain (to 2 English parents). We wanted to choose a name that refelected the fact that we had chosen to live in Spain (so nothing too overly anglophile), but at the same time would subject her to too much bullying in the playground if, god forbid , we ever had to return to the UK.
    We also had to factor in the old pronunciation issue as our friends and family in the UK and her Spanish friends and teachers has to able to pronounce what we chose.
    We opted for Aurelia, and 4 years later still get interesting spellings on Xmas cards.
    – What further complicated the matter for us was the fact that she has no middle name and we are not married.

  2. We actually opted to change the order of the last names– apparently that is possible now, up to the parents, but all the brothers and sisters must have the same combination. So my last name is first, then my husband’s. It was his idea, but since my last name is difficult to pronounce and spell correctly even in English, it was in retrospect probably not the best choice.

    Gorgeous baby photos– so sweet!

  3. I love the explanation of names… I guess our two boys came from not wanting to have a toilet name “John” so we went with a nickname for John and stretched it out: Jackson. Then with Colby we went with people we knew, Survivor (yup Colby from the TV show). But I guess all it comes down to is that we can now all be called “Cann Cann’s”.

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