PPFF #123

Good morning,

A bit of a rant this morning.

As many of us might be aware, on Thursday 23rd June 2016 the UK will vote either to remain in or leave the European Union. Not usually politically inclined, but since this one looks like it could actually matter to my personal going-abouts, I probably will be exercising my right to vote in this referendum. Although I am leaning toward one, and away from the other, I won’t either persuade or dissuade anyone one way or the other – I understand that PPFF is a strictly apolitical platform and I wish it to remain that way.

Anyhow, if you’ve been following the Remain or Leave debates, you might have noticed by now, there are quite a lot of unnecessary politicisation of anything and everything, an alarming amount of pseudo-statistics about jobs, migrants and public spending, factoids about various cultures, surprising absence of anything positive, unlikely conjectures about post-referendum Britain, wild speculations, and thinly/thickly veiled xenophobia, borderline fascistic nationalism and entertaining forms of racism as well as some rose-tinted, unrealistic presentation of pan-European ideals.

Now, rather than jumping into this gigantic mess already murky without my contribution and saying something pertinent to the current debate, instead I’ve decided to be the cool kid who says something only marginally related but interesting nonetheless – here’s something European that most of us probably didn’t know about.

If you lived in Europe for any length of time, you are likely to have known at least one person with a Spanish name. I didn’t know the exact mechanics of their names but I knew they tend to have long full names typically 3+ names or 7+ syllables. I found out today;  quite distinct from other European name conventions, they have two surnames, one paternal (usually the first surname) and the other maternal. For example, if Juan Diaz Martínez has a child with Sara Garcia González, if it’s a boy called Pedro, he is most likely to be known as Pedro Diaz Garcia.

Most of you knowledgeable folks probably already knew that – so, not to disappoint you, here’s a thing about Hungarian names.

They apparently write the group/unit identifier (surname) first and then their individual identifier (‘first’ name) like most Eastern language name conventions such as Japanese or Mongolian.

Let’s take Franz Liszt for example, a prominent Hungarian composer. At first this may appear typical of any European name convention because it’s been germanised in terms of the name order as well as spelling due to the Germanic (probably Austrian) cultural dominance during his time in Hungary. But his name in fact would have appeared as ‘Liszt Ferencz’ in Hungarian, i.e his last name first and first name last.

I don’t really know why this is the case. What I do know, however, is that the Hungarian language is very nearly a ‘language isolate’ i.e. few similar languages in Europe or any where else, and it’s not an Indo-European language unlike most European languages, and its grammar bears much more resemblance to Eastern languages than your typical European Romance (think French) or Germanic (think English) languages.

By reading and knowing that, I think we’ve all become just a little bit more European.

A good Friday, have.

(see what I did there?)