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BBC LEARNING ENGLISH

6 Minute English

What’s in a name?

This is not a word-for-word transcript

BBC LEARNING ENGLISH 6 Minute English What’s in a name? This is not a word-for-word transcript

Dan

Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Dan and joining me today is Neil. Hi Neil.

Neil

Hi there, Dan.

Dan

You're a married man, Neil. When you were wed, did your wife change her family name?

Neil

Yes she did.

Dan

Was that her choice?

Neil

Oh yes. She didn't like her old name, so for her it was a win-win. How about you?

Dan

Well, my wife wanted to keep her surname, but was forced to adopt mine because that was

the law where we got married.

Neil

Would you have thought about taking her name?

Dan

That's what we're talking about in this 6 Minute English. A husband taking a wife's name

after marriage. All that, six related words and our quiz question.

Neil

OK. Let's have the question.

Dan

In which country has it been forbidden since 1789 for a citizen to change their name legally, even after marriage?

  • a) Japan

  • b) France

  • c) Turkey

Neil

I'm going to go for b) France

Dan And we'll see if you're right later. Now, traditionally in the UK, when a man and a woman get married, the woman takes the man's family name. And this replaces her maiden name.

Neil

A maiden name is the surname a woman had before she was married. This all dates back to

the Norman invasion of England, back in 1066. They introduced the idea that when a woman married a man, she became his property. As a result of this, she took his name.

Dan

These days, many women elect to keep their maiden name upon marriage or combine it

with their new husband's in some way, sometimes by making the name double-barrelled.

Neil

A double-barrelled name is two names that are connected by a hyphen, such as Jones-Smith.

Dan

However, a growing number of couples in western culture are doing it differently . When

they get married, the husband elects to take the wife's surname.

Neil

In a BBC article about surnames and marriage, Rory Dearlove, formerly Rory Cook, talks about why he decided to take his wife's surname. He said that he wasn't really attached to his name anyway. To him it didn't make any difference.

Dan

Well, he's not alone. A recent study of 2000 UK adults by Opinium, a strategic insight agency, suggested that one in ten millennial men, currently between 18 and 34 years old, fall into this category.

Neil Charlie Shaw, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation instructor, who took his wife's name when they married last year, said that it was an opportunity to acknowledge the unseen patriarchal bias and sexism in our society.

Dan

Patriarchal means 'controlled by men' and a bias is the unfair support or opposition to a person, thing or idea.

Neil

Many traditional societies were patriarchal. But modern UK society is less like that.

Everyone is meant to be equal.

Dan

Ah yes, but that's the unseen part. And there's the social view of things too. Rachel Robnett,

a researcher at the University of Nevada surveyed a number of people in the US and UK, and found that the husbands of women who keep their maiden names are viewed as 'feminine', while the women are believed to 'wear the trousers'.

Neil

If you 'wear the trousers' in a relationship, it means you 'have the control and make the

decisions for both people'.

Dan

I

wondered about that, so I went out into London and asked people what they thought

about a man who took his wife's name when they got married. Here's what they said.

 

INSERT

Woman

don't think it's a bad idea at all. My dad's 55 and he took my mother's surname. If people want to do it, then all the power to them.

I

Man

It's each to their own really. It doesn't hurt anybody. And it's no different from a woman

taking a man's name.

Woman

The only reason I think that anybody should take someone else's surname if just for the

creation of a family unit. But if it's just out of principle, I don't agree.

Dan

It seems that the people I talked to are comfortable with the idea.

Neil Yes. Most said that people are free to do what they want. One woman even mentioned the creation of a family unit.

Dan A unit is a group of people living or working together. A typical family unit would be two

parents and some children. Well, that answers that question. People don't seem to mind who takes who's name.

Neil

Speaking of questions. How about our quiz question?

Dan

Oh yes, I asked you in which country it's been forbidden since 1789 for a citizen to change

their name legally, even after marriage?

  • a) Japan

  • b) France

  • c) Turkey

Neil

And I said b) France.

Dan

And you were spot on as usual, Neil.

Neil

Let's take a look at the vocabulary, shall we?

Dan

First we had maiden name. This is a woman's family name before she is married. My mother refused to give up her maiden name to my father when she got married.

Neil Then we had double-barrelled. A double-barrelled name is two names that are joined by a hyphen. Can you think of any famous examples?

Dan Well, there's the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker-Bowles for one. She's married to Prince Charles next in line to the English throne. Then we had patriarchal. If something is patriarchal, it is controlled by men. The feminine equivalent is matriarchal, controlled by women.

Neil Then we had bias. A bias is unfair support or opposition to a person, thing or idea.

Dan

Many fans are biased in favour of their football team. Then we had wear the trousers. If you wear the trousers, you have the control and make the decisions for both people. Do you wear the trousers in your marriage, Neil?

Neil Oh, we both wear the trousers in my marriage, thank you Dan. Then we had unit. A unit is a group of people living or working together. Like the BBC Learning English team… or unit!

Dan

And that's the end of this 6 Minute English. Don't forget to check out our Facebook,

Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages. And we'll see you next time. Bye!

Neil

Bye!