New name, new identity?
As far as I am concerned, for many years now, my name has been Niki WATTS but during our recent visit to Cyprus I found myself acquiring a new name. I have not changed religion, citizenship nor, as someone trying hard to pretend that I am still holding on to middle age, have I become bored with my existing one. While registering for one of those peskie new taxes creatively invented to part the taxpayer from yet more money, I found myself the unwilling owner of a new name – Niki Quentin Robert WATTS.
The hairs on the back of my neck bristled with indignation at the ignominy of being regarded as intrinsically linked to my husband not only in terms of his surname (my free choice) but also his first names but, having queued for over an hour in order to be issued with the requisite paperwork which would allow me to pay this tax, I was worn to submission and, to my shame, had no energy left to protest. It would have been futile anyway.
However, Quentin was allowed to remain Quentin Robert WATTS. The reason? The all-important middle name.
In Cyprus, names are formed by the first name, followed by the father’s/husband’s (in the case of married women) and the surname. As Quentin’s name consists of a first, middle name and surname, it was acceptable to the official since she had the three requisite elements.
In my case I use only a first name and surname, so she rectified this by using Quentin’s first name together with his middle name for good measure! Ultimately, the purpose of name construction strategies is to distinguish between two individuals with the same name, let us say both called John Smith. The strategies to achieve this vary from one country to the other.
In Greece, yet a third solution has been adopted. On official documents in more recent years, names are presented with first name and surname plus both parents’ names, e.g. John Smith [son] of George and Dorothy. The same now applies to women, as they now choose to keep the family surname after marriage – more politically correct, one might say!