Family Name vs Surname
To understand if there is a difference between family name and surname, we should first understand what each name refers to. What’s in a name as a rose would retain its qualities, even if it were to be called by a different name? said Shakespeare. However, the name of a person has been instrumental in allowing him to have an identity upon which he could build upon through his achievements. In all parts of the world, it is a common practice to have both the name given at birth by parents or other members of the family and family name or surname. People remain confused between the family name and surname as both traditionally come after the first name or Christian name in western culture, though there are differences between the two that will be highlighted in this article.
What is Family Name?
Family name is the name shared by the members of the same family. It is customary after birth to get the name of a child registered, and get a birth certificate issued in his name that is needed many times later in his life, and it is his identity for life. The name on his birth certificate includes both his first name that is unique to him, and his family name that is shared by all members of his family. If your friend is Steve Smith, you can refer to him as Steve, or as Smith when you are with him in any place other than his home where there are all Smiths whether his mom or sister or his father.
In western culture, the family name comes at the end of the name. As you can see in the name Steve Smith, Steve is the person’s given name and Smith is his family name. So identifying the family name of a person is simple.
What is Surname?
Surname is also the family name. In other words, surname is the name shared by all the members of your family. There is a confusion between a surname and a family name when people do not understand that they are one and the same. At all instances, both happen to be one and the same. Only the placement changes in different cultures. There is also a tradition to refer to it as last name as it is placed at the end of a name or after the first name that is given at birth to a child. There are some exceptions, though, like China, Japan, and some other Asian countries where family name or the surname is placed first and then the Christian name given at birth. Spain has a unique tradition where everyone has two surnames where the first surname is father’s surname and the second one is mother’s surname.
In some places, it is common to see people using their father’s, their village’s, their tribe’s or even their cities name in their names. So if you see a Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar in a country like India, it is an example of father’s name being used in the middle with Tendulkar being surname or family name.
What is the difference between Family Name and Surname?
• Connection between Family Name and Surname:
• Family name is the name shared by all the people of the same family.
• Surname is another name that is used for family name.
• Surname and family name are interchangeable in western culture and are placed last in a name. In such cases, first name or Christian name is the personal name, whereas family name or surname is shared by all members of the family of an individual.
• In some cultures, especially East Asian cultures, family name or the surname is often placed ahead of the personal name, which is what confuses people in the western world.
As you can see, there is no difference between family name and surname. They are one and the same. They both refer to the name that you share with your family members. The practice of placing either your family name or your surname can change according to your culture. Pay attention to that. Otherwise, both the words family name and surname are one and the same.