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  •  The most intuitive comparison is the surname one (17+ / 0-)

    Imagine a population of 1000 different surnames. Assume surnames are passed only from father to child, not from the mother. It takes surprisingly few generations for those 1000 surnames to be whittled down to a handful.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 09:23:42 AM PDT

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    •  and it is seen in communities around the country (13+ / 0-)

      Locally there are perhaps 4 surnames for 70% of the population.  Even more telling, in certain geographical locations, a single surname predominates for 80%+ of the population

      •  There's a reason traditional cultures use (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        palantir, kaliope

        descriptive epithets and lineages rather than surnames.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 10:40:40 AM PDT

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      •  Where? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        palantir, kaliope

        In certain countries that may be true, but I don't think there are very many communities in the US where that's true. Maybe some rural areas...

        •   I would say in this general area (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          palantir, kaliope

          there are maybe three names in one community currently. I am trying to rebuild a map of the farms of the community based on the 1880 agricultural census and one aid to me is that the surnames are all clustered today similar to how they are today

        •  Immigration will skew the stats (0+ / 0-)

          Historically, most people don't move around very much.  And the principle entiord is referring to will hold in such circumstances.

          The US is weird that way, because it is by design a country of immigrants.  If you merge 100 different traditional communities over less than two or three generations, the traditional communities may have many people sharing a small number of surnames, but they are different names between communities.  So you have 4x100 as many names as might be "normal" in human societies.

          Of course, if folks like the idiots in AZ get their way and close the borders, if we waited for 200 or 300 years, we'd get a population with a much smaller number of common names.  That, and a lot of genetic diseases as these idiots interbred.

          Of course, a lot of Caucasian idiots who push this stuff probably could already benefit from a genetic infusion.  Just saying.

          Mitt Romney is a T-1000 sent back from the Future as a harbinger of the upcoming Robot Apocolypse.

          by mbayrob on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 12:01:40 AM PDT

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    •  Not hard for me to imagine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftOfYou

      In China we have the world's largest population but only about 4,000 surnames total, the 3 most common being:

      ZH  Pinyin  Jyutping  % of population
      王   Wáng   Wong     7.25
      李   Lǐ          Lei        7.19
      張   Zhāng   Zoeng    6.83

      Mine 高 is way down there at rank 18.

      Of course, the old joke is "Everyone want's to be 王 (King/Emperor)".

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 08:23:09 AM PDT

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    •  Problem is... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chemborg

      ... inherited surnames are (relatively) a new invention.

      Nor did all areas use inherited surnames.  I do genealogy research in all three Scandinavian countries, and they only went to inherited surnames (by law) in the late 19th, early 20th centuries (1923 for Norway).  Iceland STILL uses the patronymic naming system.  The lack of surnames is one of the most difficult things to get across to novice genealogists with ancestors from the Scandinavian countries.  A patronym is NOT a surname or inherited from the father, but, of course, almost all got changed to an American spelling ending in -son once they got here, if the people didn't use a location name as their US surname or adopt a different name on a whim (which I've also encountered, but the family knew about the whim of the new name so I could track it).  [Occasionally there are matronyms; I've heard of them from other researchers who have such a thing in their lineage, but so far in more than two dozen lines I've researched I haven't run across that yet.]

      Still, the only "legal" name anyone had in the Scandinavian countries (and also in ancient and modern Iceland) is the "first name."  The patronym is always the father's name + sen/sson or datter/dotter... and the bonus for researchers is that women kept their own names their entire lives.  I never lose the women to name changes.  The farm names were only ever an address of sorts, not an actual surname (the location name changed if the person moved to a different farm/location)..., until the immigrants arrived in the US and adopted surnames to "fit in" with American culture if they didn't keep their patronymic names or adopt their father's patronymic name.  Then there's the added twist of certain areas where naming the children in a certain order for the maternal and paternal grandparents is almost carved in stone, and even the exceptions to the rule have rules.  I've run across two cases where a family retained the patronymic naming system for two generations after they arrived in the US.

      Holland had a patronymic naming system of sorts, and it was even used by Dutch settlers to New Amsterdam (starting ca 1630) for a few generations, but they added a little twist to things and I haven't figured that one out completely yet.

      I quite fell in love with an old 1379 tax subsidy roll from Yorkshire England.  The names reflect the various waves of native Celtic names, Anglo-Saxon and Viking immigrants who arrived as farmers and traders once the Vikings conquered, then Norman (more Viking) French names, some lowland Dutch/German names, etc., and occupations and locations people lived, and some referred to countries of origin or physical traits like red hair/redhead, etc., and it kept me enchanted for hours to see the variations they came up with.

      If one does not know the history of surnames, spelling variations, and the like, one can get lost with the idea of a constant surname that's been around for many centuries..., but surnames are a recent invention in the timeline of history.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:33:34 AM PDT

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      •  Relax, the inherited surname thing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RainyDay

        Is just a gedanken experiment that people can relate to. We all recognize that the history of surnames is more complex.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 04:04:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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