Sunday, March 22, 2015

What's in a last name?

I was just telling my son about my boss who coined a new last name from his father's name and got his siblings adopt it.  Now his family has a unique last name.

 My last name is the name of the village. Since I hadn't been to the village in twenty years and it is too long to spell, I offered him to find a new last name that he can start using.  Adyar was an option.  But he didn't like it as the old style initials would read ASS.  So, he decided to use my first name as his last name. This has been a standard in many south Indian families.

After the topic of my boss' last name, I offered that we can coin a new unique last name that is easy to spell and neutral.  We rejected a few options.

  • No place name, as we carry no special trait of people from a place.  So, no Tiruchendurai, Adyar, Longawal, Bindaranwale, Semmangudi, Ariyakkudi etc.
  • No animal names as we can't identify with any animals.
  • No caste names. So, Iyer spelled in hundred different ways is out. 
  • No family names based on Gothram - too old style.
  • Last name by profession is possible.  The west has the Cooks, Bakers, Smiths and Archers.  Closer home, the Zoroastrians had Contractor, Engineer, Kelawala, Daruwala, Tadiwala and Kagalwala.  
We are getting close.  We use computers at work more than most people.  My son is doing an undergraduate course in Computer Science.  So, Computerwala is an option.  An Indianized name like Ganithshastri is also an option.  Going for short names, there are options like Java, Ruby, Python, C and C++.  Quite trendy, but may not stay trendy for long.  He even considers BackslashZero as an option.

But wait.  What if he wants to be an investment banker?   My son is only in the first year of college and committing to such a last name at this stage appears too rash a decision.

So, we are postponing the decision by about 10 - 12 years till he chooses a lifetime profession.  And hopefully we will have more options then.