8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Not as informative as expected, but entertaining,
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This review is from: What's in a Surname?: A Journey from Abercrombie to Zwicker (Kindle Edition)
This is not an encyclopaedic book about the meaning of surnames, though it contains much interesting information, including strong reminders that we cannot assume we know the meaning of any surname.
It ranges over many aspects of the whole business of surnames - for instance, how they cluster in certain places and are completely absent in others. This is interesting, but I had the feeling that the author spends rather too much time on this, with too many detailed illustrations.
The book rambles through such things as feuds between people of different surnames that have lasted for centuries, the thinking behind stage names (would Frederic Austerlitz and Virginia Katherine McMath have been as successful as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers?), and the way that the place of one's surname in the alphabet can affect one's whole life. In academic publications, for instance, papers by multiple authors usually give the names in alphabetical order, which means that in brief references you can spend your whole career as part of the 'et al'!
The final chapter considers whether with the mobility of the present time, the growing tendency for married women to keep their own surname, and the ubiquitous use of Christian names in situations that used to call for formality, there is still a future for surnames.
There is a lot of useless information in this book (which is not a criticism!), but it also raises issues that are real at least for some people.