Talk:French name

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Use of real-life personalities in order to illustrate some traits[edit]

I wrote this article because I witnessed English-speaking people getting confused with respect to the names of people in France. This is for instance the case on Wikipedia articles, where, for instance, people cite Philippe Pétain as Henri Pétain, or claim that because Dominique de Villepin has a de in the name, then he must be aristocratic (a common confusion in France too).

But The de Villepin family IS claiming aristocratic origin! there was some time ago an article in LeMonde that stated that this claim is more than dubios.

Because of this, I deliberately chose to illustrate possible confusions with the names of real-life people taken from the political or historical world. I think this drives the point that the situations described are not rare or hypothetical, but occur somewhat frequently.

What do other contributors think? David.Monniaux 06:57, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

This article is very helpful: thank you. I've just been looking at the article on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He normally used the full form of his family name. However, the article often abbreviates it just Teilhard, but this article suggests it should be Chardin. Does anyone know which is more correct? --Gareth Hughes 19:17, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
I've explained the matter more clearly. Basically, it's up to the person's choice, or to custom regarding a family. Some people appreciate having a de in their name, because it is connoted with nobility (even though it does not imply it). Some people dislike it for exactly the same reason. Teilhard de Chardin was, I suspect, more of the second category.
In addition, a genealogy site states that this is not a family_name + land_name compounds: Ce nom composé s'est formé au XIXe siècle. Teihard vient en principe du Lot, et devrait désigner un bois de tilleuls. Chardin est un diminutif de Richard formé par aphérèse, surtout porté en Lorraine. In this case, the usage of just keeping the land name does not apply. David.Monniaux 20:09, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

David.Monniaux 19:59, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Other Francophone habits[edit]

people in french speaking part of Canada always seem to use as their usual name what in english is the middle name (i.e. the one just before the surname) except for "composite names" [noms composés] which are used in toto. this last one seem to be more popular then in france.

Another thing is that since mariage laws have changed in the 80s in québec, the bride do not automaticaly take the husband surname anymore meaning that the number of childs with 2 surname have gone way up.

I don't know if this would be the place to add this (considering its naming habits *from france*) but since it is related and would otherwise make for a short page, what do people think ?--Marc pasquin 01:29, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

The "Talleyrand-Maury" issue[edit]

The legend of the illustration assumes that Talleyrand's family name was "Maury". I think it's a mistake : his family name was...Talleyrand (with Périgord added in the 17th for some genealogical pretentions). Furthermore, Talleyrand was no abbé (abbot : courtesy style for every catholic priest at this time) but bishop. A correct anouncment would have been "mass celebrated by M. d'Autun" (the then correct style for a bishop) or "mass celebrated by Mgr de Talleyrand-Périgord" (the modern style for bishops, wich i'm not sure was used in 1790). This "abbé Maury" could be either a pseudonym for Talleyrand (a pun on his second given name Maurice) or a totally different person. It definitely can't be used as an illustration for the uses of names in France. 20:20, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, it was abbot Jean Siffrein Maury, voice of the Far-Right in the States General, not Talleyrand.I'm removing it (talk) 00:54, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Academic Titles[edit]

A discussion of academic forms of address, for say Rectors, Deans, and Professors would be much appreciated.

Abbreviation of Monsieur: M. vs Mr[edit]

I intend to discuss the removal of "Mr" from the article. The article refers to the book "Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l’Imprimerie nationale" (ISBN 2-7433-0482-0). I remember that the book only mentions "M." as the proper abbreviation of monsieur. (Other source: Manuel de typographie française élémentaire, Yves Perrousseaux, ISBN 978-2911220005)

In addition, the article of the French Wikipedia Typographie says, "On abrège monsieur par M. et non Mr ni Mr.", meaning "Monsieur is abbreviated M., and not Mr nor Mr."

The mistake is widely spread, especially on mail addresses. I believe word processors helped spread the wrong form of the abbreviation, because they were badly translated from their English version.

In typography books, I have never seen "Mle", for mademoiselle. So I am questioning that abbreviation as well.

What about surnames?[edit]

This page provides very little information about French surnames and families. Le Anh-Huy (talk) 21:05, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

History: fun anecdote[edit]

I saw a documentary that said family names became obligatory after the french revolution.
It also said that when deciding for a name to write down in the registry, some complained and the judge (or whatever) wrote those complaints as-is.
That's why names such as Sean Connery's "Connery"(~stupid,) "Connard"(~bastard), "Merde"(shit) now exist.

Does anyone know this for sure? Have any proof? If yes, it would be fun to mention it. --ycc2106 (talk) 21:13, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Usage name, and compliments to the author![edit]

I just want to compliment the author on his introduction of and use of the term "usage name". The family name topic is complicated enough to confuse people here in the US, and the usage name concept could clarify things, such as in the English-speaking section within the article on "Family name" as it now stands.

My compliments to this author! For7thGen (talk) 19:42, 27 June 2009 (UTC)


Over the Internet, French people usually write their names with their entire family name capitalized (e.g. Jean-Luc PICARD instead of Jean-Luc Picard). Is this so in real life too? Is it worth mentioning in the article? -- (talk) 21:00, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

On official documents, the last name is always supposed to be put in caps. Presumably, this is done to differentiate it from the first name. Unlike in English, French patronymic names don't normally have any special suffix (like "-son") added to them; the ancestor's first name is used without modification. So many French people have family names like Martin, Paul, Richard, Édouard, etc. The use of caps for the family name avoids confusion. I think this could be worth mentioning, but I don't have a good source for it.
Outside of official usage, French people don't normally capitalize their entire last names. In the media they will be written with only the initial capitalized, as in "Picard." Funnyhat (talk) 22:59, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, true. In the last ~20 years, capitalisation of the family names is more and more widely spread, specially in international cities because of foreign names. YCC 22:32, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I have also noticed this usage and would welcome a discussion in the article. On a related point, a note on name order would be useful as well. I have often seen French names written with the family name first and in caps, e.g. "PICARD Jean-Luc", usually in a formal context, such as CVs, email signatures, etc. This would be nice for the English wikipedia, because such usage doesn't occur in English speaking countries, in my experience. (talk) 17:21, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

This is true. Indeed in French schools (for example) teachers etc may well refer to the pupils when speaking by saying Dupont Jean (family name, first name). PhilomenaO'M (talk) 20:05, 21 December 2012 (UTC)


any reason why french naming conventions, French Name(s), do not redirect here? (talk) 20:03, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Historic names[edit]

the naming conventions don't explain this name "Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette" I am guessing this is because of a change in style. If someone could explain the historic conventions behind this name, I would be grateful. I think it would be useful as an example in the article because it is the name of a French person English speakers might know, and is a nobleman. (talk) 20:03, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Which is correct - Mme. / Mlle. vs. Mme / Mlle, and why?[edit]

I thought Mme. / Mlle was correct for whatever reason, but I'm not sure, and I never got a good explanation for why / why not... Veled (talk) 17:04, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

The correct abbreviation is Mme and Mlle with the letters ending the word in superscript and without any dot. A dot would be incorrect since, in French as well as in English (British English, at least), you must put a dot at the end of an abbreviation if, and only if, the abbreviation does not end with the last letter of the abbreviated word or expression. The superscript is a traditionnal habit for forms of address in French: besides Mme and Mlle, you can find Dr (Docteur, Doctor), Pr (Professeur, Professor), Me (Maître, Master, for some legal professions), Mgr (Monseigneur, Mylord, for a Catholic bishop). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:15, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

when particles become part of the surname[edit]

I'm curious as to when a particle becomes part of the surname, par exemple, L'Heritier vs Lheriter or Davignon vs D'Avignon? Is there a rule here or a reasoning behind it or just personal preference? thanks! [[Special:Contributions/|160.39.5

In 17th-18th centuries there was no real orthography so anything was possible. When orthography was regularized and became consistant, names may sometimes have been decomposed into its etymon. Davignon was reverted back to D'Avignon. --ThoMiCroN Blason famille Phelippes de La Marnierre.svg (t) 06:57, 8 April 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by ThoMiCroN (talkcontribs)

In case of disagreement[edit]

The law that opened marriage to gay couples also modified the names rules. In case of disagreement, both parent name are hyphenated in alphabetic order : article 311-21 of the french civil code.

this sentence does not make sense:[edit]

According to different estimations, 50 to 80 percent of French citizens would be the bearers of rare family names (fewer than 50 bearers alive at the census time). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:27, 27 November 2014 (UTC)

I do not know I did not write it but I suppressed your contribution, that makes a confusion between vernacular surnames and recently imported surnames. In Alsace the surnames are Alsatian, not German (even if Alsatian is a kind of German), that is why Muller is spelled Muller and not Müller. Concerning the Breton surnames, I suppressed it too for the same reason : Breton is of course a vernacular language, but there is another one in Britanny, a Romance one called Gallo and people who speak Gallo are Bretons as well. The subject is the birth in Britanny, not the languages. Otherwise even if some of the surnames were created in Breton language, there were partly frenchified with the French definite article Le to translate Breton Ar. In fact, your idea is that there was only one language in France, Paris French, so only "French" surnames ! for example you could have written behind Roux in PACA : (Occitan Ròs, the original name before Frenchification), etc. That is exactly the same thing. Alsatian, Breton and Occitan, etc.. are languages of France, Spanish and Portuguese not.Nortmannus (talk) 04:07, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

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