Cambios to Spanish Surnames (Apellidos) (12/8/10)
Last week I reported on the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española having passed a set of orthographic changes to the language. I said that I would discuss possible changes to Spanish naming conventions this week. This item pertains only to Spain. According to ThinkSpain:
A draft bill to amend the Civil Register laws and further promote sexual equality is being presented to congress today. If it is accepted, the historical preference given to the paternal surname over the maternal surname when registering a child in Spain, could disappear, with the parents having the right to put the surnames in the order they choose, and if no preference is stated, using alphabetical order as the default.
If the new law is adopted, both parents would have to be in agreement about the order, otherwise the the registrar would register the child's surnames in alphabetical order by default. Any decision taken by the parents with their first child would have to be honoured for any subsequent children.
On registering a newborn child under the new system, no reference would be made to the marital status of the parents either, which is a change from the current situation. The draft bill also calls for the replacement of the traditional "libro de familia" with individual registers for each citizen, linked to a personal code, which would allow access to an electronic data base containing all the relevant data for that person.
In another move, the government wants victims of domestic violence to be able, in certain exceptional cases, to be able to change their surnames by means of an order from the Justice Ministry.
The draft bill has come in for a great deal of criticism from other parliamentary groups, who believe that there are much more important issues to be discussed in the current climate and that debating surname order at this point is a waste of their time.
If you want a lesson on Spanish naming conventions, visit Wikipedia.