Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's in a Surname?

Being American and a bit heritage obsessed, I am delighted to have stumbled upon this view of the United States based on the distribution of common last names. It shows great history and diversity. Unfortunately, none of my family names show up. I've decided to keep some anonymity on this blog and not share, but nevertheless you should know that my family name is a long polish last name with 12 letters and my mother's family name originated somewhere in Latin America. The name I now share with my husband is a somewhat common name in America, but with a unique spelling.

Based on this website that lets visitors find hot spots for their surnames around the globe, my husband's name is most commonly found in New Zealand. Cool-li-o! Plug in your surname and it shoots out a color-coded map showing you the top countries where that name is prevalent. It also spits out amazing statistics like roots of the name, top regions, top cities, and top forenames!

For example my family name is most prevalent in Poland! Duh! I knew that! Daddy-o's first language was Polish. What's more fascinating are the top forenames: Jan, Irena, Stanislaw (very common Polish names!). So cool.

When I plugged in my Mother's maiden name it's most prevalent in Argentina and the USA. Totally debunking my Grandmother's fishy story that they came from Spain to Puerto Rico, in fact, the name shows low status in Spain on the color-coded map. Very interesting!

Now back to my lovely husband's name. Top surnames are: David, John, Richard, Sally, and Peter! What!

Needless to say, I'm obsessed with Heritage of names and people, so therefore I'm obsessed with this.  To all my friends out there, I've definitely already put in you name!


  1. Hey Victoria,
    Funny you should write a blog about last names. Just yesterday I was interviewing at a firm in Singapore and the principle said "I read your email and was wondering if you were Finnish". This has happened to me before. When people meet me after a few emails back and forth, I have been told that they thought I was Japanese or Finnish. Then I tried out the link you recommended and it looks like my surname is found only in 3 countries: New Zealand and you can guess the other two. Then I realized, that the frequency of people contributing to those numbers must be very bottom line, I have been taking my surname all over the world...just kidding...only new york and georgia ;)

    Really cool visual map by the way.

  2. I absolutely got way, way too side-tracked with this fun, and a few surprises! I love the varying content in you blog, always fun reading!

    Jenny @vpv