PDA

View Full Version : Swedish Female Surnames - Why the Change to the Male Form?



Thusnelda
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 07:39 PM
Hi together,

I´ve a question that bothers me for quite a time now. As far as I know the former name system in Skandinavian countries was that the surname differs between males and females and is related to the parent´s name.

Boys got a surname related to father: Sven Olavson = Son of Olav. Other example: Nils Holgerson = Son of Holger

Girls got a surname either related to the mother...Anna Friddasdottir = Daughter of Fridda...or, sometimes, to the father: Freya Eriksdottir = Daughter of Erik.

This name system is alive and kicking in Iceland. But it has changed in Sweden and to a lower extend in Norway. Many women wear surnames who don´t go conform with their female gender:

Anna Olson = "-son" = male system surname. Britta Svenson = "-son" = male system surname. Erica Johansson/Johanssen, etc.

So my question is simple: Why the change of the surname system? When did it happen? And why? Or do I miss something? ;)

There´re some exceptions of the rule. A female Swedish Alpine skier wears the name Frida Hansdotter, daughter of Hans. On the other hand, the most famous Swedish Alpine skier is Anja Pärson.

Méldmir
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:05 PM
I don't know when it changed, but the names don't change any longer from generation to generation. So Anja Pärson's father is also called Pärson, as was probably his father. It doesn't matter what gender the children has, the -sson name is the standard. Some people in Sweden has -dotter names still as you point out, but they are also not based on gender anymore.

Again, I don't know in what time period or why, all children were given -sson names and why this happend. Norway has -sen names, so the tradition is gone there too.

Thusnelda
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:07 PM
I don't know when it changed, but the names don't change any longer from generation to generation.

Again, I don't know in what time period or why, all children were given -sson names and why this happend. Norway has -sen names, so the tradition is gone there too.
Indeed, that´s my point exactly. Why and when has it changed? And why there´re some exceptions remaining. Never found anything reliable about it.

Sigurd
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:11 PM
Patronymics/Matronymics were abolished in Sweden in 1901. This article (http://www.genealogi.se/varmland/english2.htm) may be of some help. :)

Also, here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_name#Scandinavia) to explain why many Swedes, Norwegians and Danes end up with names such as Lindgren, Lundberg, Kierkegaard, Rosdahl etc. pp.

According to the second source (Wikipedia), Denmark reallowed patronymics as an option in 2006. :thumbup

Méldmir
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:16 PM
Maybe I misunderstodd you Thusnelda, I took it as thatyou thought Anja Pärson's father was called Pär, and Hansdotter's father was called Hans :P and you wondered why they didn't get the correct gender still in modern times.

Thusnelda
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:20 PM
Patronymics/Matronymics were abolished in Sweden in 1901. This article (http://www.genealogi.se/varmland/english2.htm) may be of some help. :)

Thanks Julian, that sheds some light. It´s really kind of a sad thing that this "rural/peasant tradition" was abolished! :thumbdown The question remains why we have so many "-son" and "-sen" then and so less "-dotter" in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Have almost all picked the male patronym as a surname? I can´t imagine that.


Maybe I misunderstodd you Thusnelda, I took it as thatyou thought Anja Pärson's father was called Pär, and Hansdotter's father was called Hans :P and you wondered why they didn't get the correct gender still in modern times.
:D Yes maybe you misunderstood me. But why do you think that Hansdotter´s father in former times wasn´t a Hans?

Sigurd
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:25 PM
Thanks Julian, that sheds some light. It´s really kind of a sad thing that this "rural/peasant tradition" was abolished! :thumbdown

Yes, at least a combination would have been fine, especially considering that many of these Northern "surnames" started out as farm names, thus leading back to the old idea of "James, son of Gerald from the Old Church". So that sort of like you'd have Hans Gunnarsson Rosdahl, his son is Erik Hansson Rosdahl, his son again is Anders Eriksson Rosdahl, asf. ;)


The question remains why we have so many "-son" and "-sen" then and so less "-dotter" in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Have almost all picked the male patronym as a surname? I can´t imagine that.

I assume that it was tendentially, with time, more customary that the male's name be taken upon marriage rather than the female's name. I would assume that most ending on -dotter could date to something like the father having already passed on, not known, or other odd circumstances which would have made it impossible for the man's name to be used. :shrug

Méldmir
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 08:26 PM
:D Yes maybe you misunderstood me. But why do you think that Hansdotter´s father in former times wasn´t a Hans?

You mean like her ancestor before 1901? Yes he may very well have been called Hans :)



I assume that it was tendentially, with time, more customary that the male's name be taken upon marriage rather than the female's name. I would assume that most ending on -dotter could date to something like the father having already passed on, not known, or other odd circumstances which would have made it impossible for the man's name to be used. :shrug

But most -dotter are with a male name, like Hansdotter.

Æmeric
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 09:00 PM
Because they switched over to hereditary surnames. And most people born in wedlock inherit the name of their father, who would of course have had the male form. Before the switch the son of Peder Larson would have been Hans Pedersen & the daughter Hanna Pedersdottir. With the adoption of hereditary surnames they were Hans Larson & Hanna Larson respectively.

Sigurd
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 09:43 PM
But most -dotter are with a male name, like Hansdotter.

Umm...rethink what I said again. Let me demonstrate :P:

Grandfather (before 1901): Hans Larsson
Mother (before 1901): Anna Hansdotter
Child (after 1901): Markus Hansdotter.

Still all perfectly possible. ;)

Robbensvolk
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011, 11:31 PM
This was similar to Irish names prior to being anglicized. Irish surnames tend to begin with O or Mac(Mc in English). These were originally names which identified you by your father or grandfather, but they later came to be used as family names. So Tomas Mac Carthaigh (McCarthy) was literally Thomas, son of Cartach. Sean O Conaill (O Connell) was John,grandson of Conall. There are seperate female versions of surnames, whereas the English names are only derived from the male versions. There are distinct prefixes for women's surnames. These prefixes depend on whether a woman is married or not. So Sean O Conaill's daughter would be Aine Ni Chonaill, but his wife would be Siobhan Ui Chonaill, or Siobhan Bean Ui Chonaill, literally wife of O'Connell. Women tended to be known informally by their maiden names anyway due to strong family connections. Here's a list of some names in the 3 forms:
Man's Surname Woman's surname
Maiden name Married name
O Murchu (Murphy) Ni Mhurchu Ui Mhurchu

O Donaill ( O Donnell) Ni Dhonaill Ui Dhonaill

Mac Mathuna (McMahon) Nic Mhathuna Mhic Mhathuna