Friday, July 01, 2005

He only wants me for my name, new brides lament

Danish men are eager to give up their own surnames in exchange for their wives’ maiden names - as long as they are good enough, daily newspaper Urban reported. Marriage registrar’s offices around the country report a stronger trend of men taking their wives’ names. ‘People would like to have a special name, and it has become more usual for men to take their wives’ surnames, if they sound important,’ said the head of the marriage registrar’s office in Aalborg, Susanne Christiansen. She, along with her colleagues in Århus and Copenhagen, says men are especially willing to rid themselves of traditional Danish surnames like Hansen, Jensen, and Nielsen. The offices have no statistics to back up their claim, but all agree that the trend is on the rise. ‘But it depends entirely on the wife’s name,’ said Christian Nielsen, leader of the marriage registrar’s office in Copenhagen. ‘In contrast to women, men do not take the name Olsen out of love.’ ‘Split family patterns mean that Danish men are not as fixed on their family name as they used to be,’ he said. ‘Instead they now pick the name that fits their own self-image. Something with a symbolic value … and you don’t find a lot of that in Olsen.’


At July 01, 2005 5:05 PM, Blogger Evan said...

"Instead they now pick the name that fits their own self-image."

I find this whole phenomenon of trying to publicly distinguish oneself from the crowd fascinating. IIRC the economist Steven Leavitt claims that 40 percent of black females in California born in the 1990s had a completely unique name, one shared by no other California girls born then. The whole American T-shirt culture is predicated on this type of public establishment of identity. (As is, I would claim, the whole culture of political correctness.)

I wonder what that says about us.

At July 01, 2005 10:57 PM, Blogger Rune said...

What really puzzles me is the great popularity of genealogy by childless people. Ok it doesn’t seem to be all the rage that it was a few years back. I talked to a guy who took great pride in his family and all his illustrious forebears which he had researched to the gazillionth level. But did he have any children himself? No. And neither had he planned any. The family line stopped there. It’s fine to be proud of ones ancestry, but I should have thought such a preoccupation with the family name and history would imbue one with a certain feeling of responsibility towards keeping it alive. But apparently I’m mistaken.

At July 01, 2005 11:11 PM, Blogger Jude the Obscure said...

I looked in the local phone book. There are five Olsens, two Olsons, and one Olly Olsson, thirty Hansens, one Hanson, seven Jensens, six Christiansens, three Christensens, and thirty four Neilsons/Neilsens(pop. 50,000). There's a bit of useless information for you.

At July 02, 2005 7:38 PM, Blogger blubi101 said...

evan: I admit I have an urge to do things differently, but due to individualism not trying to be special, i.e if the guys are ordering beer I won´t ask for a pin~a colada. Considering that a name is a label explains why shallow people would be concerned about their name.

rune: many people have identity crises, and somehow for some people knowing about their forefathers does it for them. They should of course be more preoccupied about choosing a name for their offspring, and doing the groundwork for it. Or finding their own identity, even if that requires something more profound than figuring out who their greatgrandfather was.

At July 05, 2005 6:18 AM, Blogger Brian Olsen said...

‘Instead they now pick the name that fits their own self-image. Something with a symbolic value … and you don’t find a lot of that in Olsen.’

What, there is no symbolic value? If that's a problem, then these people need to get out more, not lament over such a petty thing like their name.

I would think it would be cool to have the surname of my grandfather before he left Norway to the US, but I don't care about these 'what ifs'. 'Olsen' (in NYC, there is only a half-column worth of Olsens) is distinct enough for me. Hey, it ain't no "Smith" or "Jones"!

At July 10, 2005 11:01 PM, Blogger Ole said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At July 10, 2005 11:06 PM, Blogger Ole said...

I, like Brian, carry the name of my Norwegian born grandfather which is Olsen. I have never felt the name demeaning or anything to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary, every one in my family is very proud of the name. I'v even given it to four differnt women.


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