Use of 'de' in Spain
The equation of the use of de in French noble names and in Spanish ones is a bit off. The examples don't bear it either. In the case of the Duquesa de Alba the de is not a nobility particle but a plain article indicating what title she has: she is the Duchess of Alba, but her name is Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva a secas. In patronymic-toponymic formula, the "de" exists between elements of the name, not before it. Finally in French, the distinction is clear: if your name is "du Pont" you're a noble (or have pretensions to the nobility), if your name is "Dupont," you're a commoner. This spelling distinction does not exist in Spanish and so the use of the "de" (which would have been more common in centuries past) is much more ambiguous than presented in articles (Nobility particle, Spanish naming customs) as they now stand.TriniMuñoz (talk) 06:36, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree that in Spanish, the "de" exists between the patronymic-toponymic formula, not before it. But I don't think the use of de is less common among Spanish nobility than among the French. I don't think there is any research published on the statistical significance of the so called "nobility particle" among Spanish surnames, but my impression is, its introduction and use became a big deal among Spaniards as soon as the Bourbon House took over the Spanish Crown (with King Philipp V). Some evidence of this can be found at the Real Chancilleria de Valladolid. Very few nobility probes after the 17th century would involve noblemen without the "de" particle. Also, looking at the current "Elenco de Grandezas y Titulos", which is the catalogue of existing titled nobility of Spain, I find that over 90% of the family names include the "de" particle. (220.127.116.11 (talk) 19:04, 13 May 2009 (UTC))
- I see there's some confusion! Sorry for not being clear. My point is not that Spanish nobles (or those who pretend to it) use the de less; rather my point is that the de is used quite frequently by non-nobles, either historically in Spain—I realize that 19th century laws have highly regularized things a lot, but before that there does seem to be a free-for-all—or now in all Hispanic cultures, therefore the de is not a good identifier of current or past nobility (which furthermore, I would argue, makes the case for calling it a "nobility particle" in Spanish weak, though it's use should be noted). In this sense the Hispanic case is more like the Dutch one with the des and vans. Look at the case of Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, who only gets the "noble" sounding name when his father, Ricardo Pérez de Cuéllar, decided to permanently combine his last names for his offspring. Having lived in France for a while (I was an exchange student and have continued to visit it since), I noticed that the use of the de was taken seriously… actually it was often derided. Many of my friends made fun of the "aristocratic pretensions" of other friends that I had made and that kept their "de"s and "du"s separate (some really did descend from nobles, but this fact was fodder for even more derisive comments—for a famous case, to which I was introduced then, see Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.) As a young teenaged American I, of course, would have never noticed this, since it was cultural code alien to me. Like you I have no studies to truly back this in the French case. But having been to Spain and several Latin American countries, I never heard of a distinction like this: "De la Guerras," "De la Torres," etc. are way too common. One doesn't even have to go that far. I don't think that anyone would take Oscar de la Hoya for the scion of an illustrious noble family (although his descendants can rightly revel in his accomplishments) any more than we would Leonardo DiCaprio.TriniMuñoz (talk) 03:28, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Hi TriniMuñoz. I appreciate the clarification, and tend to agree with most of your points:
- 1) Following the examples you mentioned, I think we need to distinguish between de being used in Spain and de being use in other Spanish speaking countries.
- The use of de in Spain has been highly regulated for some time. It is an integral part of the family name, unlike y.
- Any change of surname is administratively simple, with the exception of adding the particle de. An individual who wants to recover the de particle used by his ancestors would have to spend a considerable amount of his life researching, gathering historical documents, requesting a change to the Ministry of Justice, fighting bureaucracy, etc.
- You are right that such "regularization" may not have been the case 500 years ago, but Spain's names laws became quite strict on this matter a few centuries ago, probably with the arrival of the House of Bourbon (which, being French, explains they didn't take the de lightly).
- I agree with you, that's obviously not the case in Latin American nations, which have always been Republics (with short-lived exceptions).
- 2) I think the author of the article has attempted to address the use of the nobility particle de by noblemen/noblewomen rather than its misuse. In other words, de is the nobility particle used by the Spanish language, whether or not the individual who uses it actually has that status or just pretends it.
- 3) As your examples show, the fact that non-nobles have decided to embellished their surnames with the nobility particle de is one more evidence that society in general perceives such meaning.
- Good hypotheses, 18.104.22.168, but I think they need a bit more research before they are stated as fact. Although stick to the secondary sources. ¡Ojo! with the original research, though. You'll attract deletions left and right! In my time studying the Spanish world I have found no evidence that the Bourbons tried to regulate names in the 18th century. The first mention that I have run across a law on names is the Law of the Civil Registry of 1870, quite late in the 19th century, and it has more to do with growing notions of modernity than an attempt at weeding out pseudo-nobles. Similar laws are created throughout Europe, regardless of whether they were monarchies or not. The idea was that regularity is good, that you want the state to be able to trace its citizens and their actions, that is, tax them, keep track of inheritances, draft them, etc. without having to resort to primitive methods like tax farmers. (Locals always know who was who and therefore didn't care if members of the same family used different last names or no last names at all!) This is when true patronymics is wiped out in Scandinavia. (Sad, I think because I think it's a beautiful tradition.) The one country that breaks with this pattern is actually the United States, which in essence maintains the free-for-all (although name-laws have to be considered state by state, since this falls under their purview). So, for example you can have someone like Troy Garity, (Tribute, IMDb) who doesn't share either of his parent's last names. I don't think there's a current EU or Latin American country where this would be allowed.
- Anyway, I digress. One also has to consider that as powerful as the Bourbons sound, it was they who were coming into a Hispanic setting (and an Italian one, down in Naples and Sicily), and it took them a while to get acclimated. Yes, Philip V brought French advisors, but they also had to consider, learn and adapt the the Spanish reality. We often forget to look at history from the ground up. Anyway, my very strong suspicion—and I have seen no evidence to the contrary—is that the name laws do not become strict until only a 140 years ago (and on the eve of a republic, to boot!), although I have to admit I was not researching this directly. Secondly, now thinking about it for the last two days, I'm starting to wonder about the French de and just how strict it was until modern times, that is, the 19th century. One has to consider, first, that spelling was looser back then. Second, one does have cases like Robespierre whose family used the de for generations but was not noble. (The French-language article explains in a non-sourced footnote that he did not drop the de, but that this became a posthumous convention.) Again, seeing the late 18th- and early 19-century Spanish cases I study, I see that the de was used a lot, probably in imitation of the French, by anyone who had risen above the peasantry. One example is the Canarian Domingo de Monteverde, who has a naval career which would have brought him some prestige, but does not seem to be a noble or "hidalgo." Finally, there are the cases of the many "de" names in Spanish that clearly are an integral part of the name but definitely do not imply nobility. See Apellidos: Toponímicos. But I guess Article 206 of the Civil Registry lets these people "suppress" these articles and particles, should they suddenly develop an anti-aristocratic fervor.
- Finally on point 2, I do have object to the characterization of the non-noble use of de as "misuse." No, it's correct use. If a certain Juan lived near the only paved street in some small 17th century village it's very likely that he became Juan de la Calle. This is correct usage. Ditto for Monteverde's use of it (and even I would say the same for Robespierre across the Pyrenees and all the way across the Hexagon). De is a nobilty particle in Spanish, but de isn't just a nobility particle in Spanish. In French it has become just that, hence my original example of "Du Pont" vs. "Dupont" or "D'Estaign" vs. "Destaign" (if you look at the French-language articles). This difference in Spanish needs to be noted (and was in the previous version of "Spanish naming customs"). On point 3, what the examples I mentioned are doing is creating double barreled names. This is what creates the illusion of nobility, not just the use of the de; otherwise Pérez de Cuellar's father would have just named his son Javier de Pérez. I also think that his father was just trying to create a more distinctive name than just the common "Pérez." The article should clearly note that the are many, many Spanish surnames that start with de that don't imply nobility (De Frías, De la Calle, De la Costa, De la Cruz, De la Fuente, De la Parra, De la Peña, De la Plaza, De la Rivera, De los Riscos, De la Rosa, De la Rúa, De la Sierra, De la Torre, De la Vega, De Loño, Del Barco, Del Cabral, Del Campo, Del Castillo, Del Castro, Del Hoyo, De Leiva, Delmonte, Del Pilar, Del Pozo, Del Río, De Torres, Del Valle, Del Villar, etc). When the list of exceptions becomes longer than the rule, then the rule is not really useful. This is why I love Andrés Bello's succinct rule for what is a masculine or feminine noun in Spanish: a masculine noun is one that takes el as its article and a feminine the one that takes la. None of this "nouns ending in -a are feminine, except X, Y and Z" (Spanish Grammar, 1832).TriniMuñoz (talk) 08:19, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
Suggested name change
- The existing title seems to be a typo or a mistake: going ahead.--Old Moonraker (talk) 05:16, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Italian use of "de'" (degli?)
I came to this article seeking information about the use of de' (as in Cosimo de' Medici), which has always confused me. Is it short for degli? Is it simply a plural form of de? What about American musician Mark De Gli Antoni? Can someone knowledgeable insert a brief mention of this form? Thanks! leigh (φθόγγος) 20:56, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
- It can be an example of Italian apocopic form and a shortened form of degli (as in Medici's case). See here for more details. Confounding this, however, is its use among Spanish nobles ruling in Italian lands. --NEMT (talk) 00:59, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
some errors in the Italian section
In Italy is used only della/del and di. That particles are connected with the land or the manor, not with the surname. An Italian noble has got a surname that can be common (es. Rossi), and a predicato nobiliare (es. di Lampedusa... Lampedusa is a place, a land). So a noble surname could be Tomasi (the surname) di Lampedusa (the predicato nobiliare, connected with a place).
Other nobles have got only a surname, so it is difficult to know who is a real noble and who is not.
There are, of course, some Italian surname that aren't noble but have particles, for example della Torre (Torre isn't a a land), de Maldé (Maldé isn't a land). Those surnames can be recognised as noble only if connected with a predicato nobiliare, so della Torre di Porto San Giorgio is noble, de Maldé di Casale (all invented). A surname with particles, but without any predicato nobiliare is only a patronimic.
@ leigh phthongos:
de' Medici is a patronimic. In fact the Medici family wasn't recognised as noble in the first time by a fons honorum, like the Pope or the German Emperor.
De Gli Antoni is only a patronimic, not a noble surname.
So, in Italy, don't exist noble surnames, but families with a certain surname that were ennobled, so they added to their surname a predicato nobiliare. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 08:48, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
England and Wales
In the England and Wales section it says, "In modern times, a nobiliary particle is rarely used." What is this rare usage? Surely that is more worthy of interest than if it was commonly used? If it means "not used" it should say so. 126.96.36.199 (talk) 13:37, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
The last sentence of the Somalia section is incomplete
"During his research in the ancient town of Amud, the historian G.W.B. Huntingford noticed that whenever an old site had the prefix Aw in its name (such as the current Regional Governor of Gedo Aw libaax)." --what should belong here? Msft0682 (talk) 02:03, 11 May 2014 (UTC)
Hello fellow Wikipedians,
I have just modified 2 external links on Nobiliary particle. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:
- Added archive https://web.archive.org/web/20150602141120/http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2009CSIH61.html to http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2009CSIH61.html
- Added archive http://web.archive.org/web/20090303000030/http://rirs3.royin.go.th:80/dictionary.asp to http://rirs3.royin.go.th/dictionary.asp
When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at
You may set the
|checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting
|needhelp= to your help request.
- If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
- If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.
If you are unable to use these tools, you may set
|needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.