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Sequence of names


allanb

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I think this is a question for a Real French Person (RFP) - I can't find the answer in any reference book I have.  If a person's family name is Dupont and his given name is Pierre, when do you write "Pierre Dupont" and when do you write "Dupont Pierre"?  Does it matter?

I may be wrong but I think that, in English usage, Tom Brown would appear as "Brown Tom" only in an alphabetical list arranged by surname, such as a phone directory.  Putting the surname first seems to be much more common in French.  

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In a phone directory for instance, the surname (Dupont) is listed before the initial of the first name (P.)

Even when writing an envelope, the usual form is Mr Dupont Pierre...

If you look at forms, internet registration pages..., the usual order of fields to complete is Nom, Prénom

I find that British forms or sites ask for the first name then the surname.

After years in England, I still have to double-check I am filling forms in the right order [:)]
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I designed and implemented a new membership system for a club that had members mainly in the UK but with a few international members - some in France. The form we sent out for renewal was pre-completed with relevant details to make life easy for the members and to enable them to check what we held on them. The layout was first name, surname. EVERY year, one Frenchman sent it back with the first name and surname "corrected" to be the other way around. Every year, I ignored the change. It got to the point where I really began to question whether his name could really be Petitrenaud Alain - ie M. Alain (not the real name but following the same pattern) or was more likely to be Alain Petitrenaud - ie M. Petitrenaud. He was ex-directory so I couldn't even check it via that route ...

Mind you, I must've done the same thing myself because on one occasion, having bought Air France tickets online, we turned up at the airport and only THEN noticed that the tickets had our surnames as first names and vice-versa. Fortunately the check-in staff were used to this happening ....

Regards

Pickles

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Yes, Cat, no confusion that way: surname in upper case and first name in lower case.

Also, I have noticed that the name of your town after the postcode is also often written in upper case.

Problem is I have 3 first names and 2 surnames and that confuses the French no end![:D]

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Oddly, Britain (or, to be fair, Anglophone countries) are probably among the only ones to use the "First name, Surname" convention. Every year, with several hundred overseas students, we spend a considerable time trying to work out which way round their names really go. With student learners of English, who have trouble filling in forms, it's a nightmare. They all steam through the forms, assuming that the convention will be the same one they're used to, which puts their surname before their first name. Another shining example of "they're all out of step but us"[:D]

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It's particularly difficult when your surname, like mine, can also be a Christian name.  I recall reading in a newspaper about an accident in hospital when the blood of a David James went to a man called James David, hence why you are always asked your date of birth.

 

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Another complication , in France, is the habit of including a woman's maiden name in some situations. It seems to be much more important here than in the UK. Why is that?

A neighbour, who is a widow, and has had 3 husbands, has a list of alternatives, including her maiden name.

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[quote user="Patf"]Another complication , in France, is the habit of including a woman's maiden name in some situations. It seems to be much more important here than in the UK. Why is that

A neighbour, who is a widow, and has had 3 husbands, has a list of alternatives, including her maiden name.[/quote]

The name you're born with (registered with) IS your given (official) name.

A woman changing her surname on getting married is a convention, but her given (official) name remains the same.

I have never used Mr Clair's surname.

The woman with three dead husbands still has the same official name.

A divorced French woman who has used her husband's surname during her marriage  must 'revert' to using her given (official) name and can carry on using her ex-husband's surname only if he agrees for her to do so.

To change a given (official) name, a French person must apply to the tribunal and get a judge to agree.

This is very much in the news at the moment, as many French people from North African families, who have traditionally been given 'French" first names (like Pierre, Marcel...) are asking to change their names to reflect their family background.

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Lets not forget the mainly but I am sure not wholly or exclusively Musselman tradition as adressing you Mr followed by your prenom, Mr Bob, Mr Frank, Mr Samuel etc which I personally find most charming.

Have any ladies been addressed in this way and did they like it or not?

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Yes in Thailand - a cousin teaches there and her pupils address her as Miss Melanie (and do likewise for other teachers).  It sounds nice.

I changed my first name by deed poll in UK - actually I only did the deed poll when I moved to France, it is easy to change name in UK - and it has caused many a sad fonctionnaire to almost have a 'crise'.  They don't like it, can't get it and are sure I should have the Queen's permission to do it.  Makes fonctionnaire baiting an even better sport

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[quote user="Clair"]

A divorced French woman who has used her husband's surname during her marriage  must 'revert' to using her given (official) name and can carry on using her ex-husband's surname only if he agrees for her to do so.

[/quote]

Shame that is not also the case in the UK - I had to get a deed poll to

change mine back - didn't bother changing when I got married again -

causes fewer problems in France, but still causes confusion, but less

so than in the UK.

I like the French idea that you keep your own

(family) name through life - now all we have to do is work out the

titling of it. .......!!!!

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[quote user="Benjamin"]I wonder how a French fonctionnaire would react when dealing with a Spanish person where the name format is forename, father's surname followed by mother's surname.  [6][/quote]

In the same way they do when dealing with a French person whose name is double-barrelled.

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[quote user="Clair"][quote user="Benjamin"]I wonder how a French fonctionnaire would react when dealing with a Spanish person where the name format is forename, father's surname followed by mother's surname.  [6][/quote]

In the same way they do when dealing with a French person whose name is double-barrelled.

[/quote]

Obvious really  [Www]. I'm just leaving.  [:D]

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