National Post (Latest Edition)

TALKING POINT

DOUBLE- BARRELLED SURNAMES

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• When Alexandra Sipos- Kocsis had kids, she faced a dilemma: A triple- barrelled name with her husband’s surname Goldstein seemed clunky, and bestowing only one of her names wasn’t an option.

In the end, the 34- year- old dropped both when she named her son and daughter Goldstein — resorting to a paternal tradition her parents deliberate­ly eschewed.

The quick death of her parents’ progressiv­e gesture seems to be the inevitable fate of a lot of double-barrelled surnames that gained momentum in the ’80s and ’90s.

Now that those hyphenated children are having offspring of their own, the question of how to preserve both the political spirit that inspired their surnames and the practical concerns of day-to-day life seem at odds.

York University linguistic­s professor Sheila Embleton says the trend for profession­al women to keep their maiden name started around the mid-’ 70s. Of course, various forms of the double- barrelled surname have long been standard in many cultures, including Quebec and most Spanish-speaking countries. Generally speaking, the tradition is for the maternal surname to drop when a husband’s surname is added, notes Embleton.

In the end it’s patriarcha­l, but the mother’s surname does survive one generation longer than most Anglo traditions. Today, more families seem willing to chart their own course. “Your name was prescribed before,” says Embleton. “Now, I think there’s a little more fluidity in it.”

That sentiment is what drove Laura Pieterson and Damien Boisvert Neufeld to bestow their two children with the invented surname Pine — an homage to the fact they met while tree-planting and continue to work in silvicultu­re.

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