Amer­i­can names such as Smith and Gar­cia

The Review - - OPINION - Jim Smart Of All Things Visit colum­nist Jim Smart’s web­site at jamess­mart­sphiladel­phia. com.

There was a list in a mag­a­zine of the 10 most com­mon last names in the United States. The first five were Smith, John­son, Wil­liams, Brown and Jones.

Smith is oneof the­old­est and wide st - spread all over the world be­cause, in many lan­guages, the sec­ond name orig­i­nated as iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of a man’s oc­cu­pa­tion. The smithies who worked with metal were im­por­tant, so there would be John the Smith and James the Smith and so forth.

Other lan­guages were no dif­fer­ent than English. An­cient Celtic gobha, mean­ing smith, gave us names like Gowan and Goren.

The word for smith be­came the names Sch­midt in Ger­man and Smits in Dutch. Scan­di­navia has Smed. In Poland, it’s Kowal­ski, Hun­gar­ian is Ko­vacs, Rus­sian is Kuznets, Ital­ian is Fer­raro, French is LeFavre, Span­ish is Her­rera and Ara­bic is Had­dad.

And a fancier Ger­man name for Smith is Eisen­hower, mean­ing iron worker.

At sev­enth on that list is Miller, an­other oc­cu­pa­tional name. Not in the top 10 are such trade names as Car­pen­ter, Sawyer, Ma­son, Tay­lor and Shoe­maker. From the days of Robin Hood we get Archer, Bow­man and Fletcher; fletch­ers put feath­ers on ar­rows

John­son is sec­ond on the list; the name John in var­ied forms goes back to an­cient He­brew and wan­ders through Latin, Greek and al­most ev­ery­thing else to get to English.

Jones also meant John’s son. Ex­perts trace it to 13th cen­tury Wales and south­ern Eng­land. It was fourth most com­mon in the 1990 U. S. Cen­sus, but some­how, Brown has sneaked in ahead of it.

Brown as a fam­ily name is be­lieved by most sources to have orig­i­nated fromthe color of hair or com­plex­ion. It was Brun or Bron in the 12th cen­tury or so.

Now come the last five on the cur­rent list, with some pos­si­ble sur­prises: Gar­cia, Miller, Davis, Ro­driguez and Martinez.

I’ve al­ready men­tioned Miller. It was the sev­enth name in the 1990 Cen­sus, and sixth in 2000. Smith, John­son, Wil­liams, Brown, Jones and Davis were in the top seven with Miller in 1990 and 2000.

Davis is from He­brew and gen­er­ally con­sid­ered a de­riv­a­tive of David, which means “beloved.”

The name Wil­son hov­ered around the end of the cen­sus top ten for years. It en­tered English in­medieval times as, ob­vi­ously, the son of some­body named Wil­liam or Will.

But in 2000, Wil­son dropped to last, and eighth and ninth were Gar­cia and Ro­driguez. And in 2010, Gar­cia was sixth, and ninth and 10th were Ro­driguez and Martinez.

Fur­ther­more, 11th, 12th and 13th were Her­nan­dez, Lopez and Gon­za­lez. Does El Pres­i­dente Trump know about this?

One Span­ish dic­tio­nary web­site says Gar­cia might come from a Basque word for young or an­other Basque word for bear or maybe Ibe­rian for “grace­ful prince.” Take your pick.

Ro­driguez is de­fined as a mar­ried man who has to stay home and work while his fam­ily goes on va­ca­tion.

The best I could do with the other names were that Martinez is son of Martin, Her­nan­dez is son of Her­nando, Lopez is sonof Lopo andGon­za­lez is son ofGon­zalo.

But, like Schultz and O’Brien and D’An­gelo and Co­hen andWong andMcTav­ish and Zon­golow­icz and Ta­ma­nend, they’re all good Amer­i­can names.

As Shake­speare said, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Or, a Gar­cia might say: “Lo que lla­mamos rosa se­ria tan fra­gante con qualquier otro nom­bre.”

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