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Old 06.10.2020, 09:43
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Middle / second given names

My husband and I (both American) are expecting, and we currently contemplating on whether or not to give our baby a middle name (or second given name). Middle names are quite common in the US, but not necessarily other places in the world. More than likely, we will permanently stay in Switzerland, and although it's possible we might move to a different country, it is quite unlikely we will end up permanently back the USA. We both have middle names, but are not really convinced they are needed.

So, I am hoping to get your opinions on this. Are middle names becoming more common in CH? (Or in Europe and beyond?). Are there any advantages or disadvantages to having or not having a middle name in CH or other places in the world?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!
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Old 06.10.2020, 09:57
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Re: Middle / second given names

I’ve always (blame my mother) used my middle name. Wasn’t much of an issue where I come from (and before 9/11) but here I find I’m obliged to use my first name for anything official. My passports have my full name, although the Swiss wanted to hyphenate my first names. And my credit cards etc. only have my first name.

My wife OTOH has only one given name, and it hasn’t been a problem.
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Old 06.10.2020, 09:59
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Re: Middle / second given names

I think you should go with something Swiss as a middle name, like Wankdorf.
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:03
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Re: Middle / second given names

But ... The US seems to expect two first names. When submitting information to US government you might be required to submit ‘none’ in place of an missing second name. My wife had to do this when requesting travel to the US.
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:18
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Re: Middle / second given names

You're right, there's a strong feeling about it and I still don't understand what's going on with middle names.

I've been working in the same job for 3 years and a lot of colleagues introduced themselves by first name. Few months ago the company merged with another one, we got new email addresses setup automatically with people's data from the job contract and the new company name......from one day to other I found a lot of my colleagues had first and middle names, others had up to 3 first names. The curious thing is that people felt exposed as if they had something to hide, something shameful? I still don't understand what happened, anyone with deeper knowledge of local/Europe culture can explain?
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:21
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Re: Middle / second given names

From Wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_name
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:35
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Re: Middle / second given names

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I’ve always (blame my mother) used my middle name. Wasn’t much of an issue where I come from (and before 9/11) but here I find I’m obliged to use my first name for anything official. My passports have my full name, although the Swiss wanted to hyphenate my first names. And my credit cards etc. only have my first name.
I feel your pain.

SNSmith, give your child a middle name if that is your tradition and your wish.

But put the name that you intend to use as the first name. That's one less hurdle for your child to deal with later on.

Or at least teach him or her the importance of consistency when filling out forms, from day one.

BTDT, and over the decades have spent too much time explaining, too much time cleaning up bureaucratic messes.
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:42
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Re: Middle / second given names

There's a strong culture throughout the Catholic, and I believe also, but perhaps to a lesser extent, the Orthodox Christian world, of everyone automatically being assigned a Saint's name as their middle name, or in some regions having it appended with the first name. Think of French names like Jean-Louis, Marie-Claire etc.

So in those cultures the existence of another, i.e. not Saint-related, given name might have been confusing, historically, whereas nowadays and in many areas people have simply extended the idea.

There's also, in other parts of the world, the idea of using a patronymic as a middle name. Common in Russian, certainly, maybe also in other languages/cultures? It's traditional in other cultures to take middle names from grandparents or other relatives too.

So generally speaking, most cultures are familiar with the concept of a 'middle' name of some sort, and in the modern world I don't think many people would be fazed by the existence, or non-existence thereof.

Are they "needed" in CH. No. Expected? Possibly.

Edit: FWIW I have _never_ used my middle name, except for filling in forms. I can't imagine a situation where I might ever do so.
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:56
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Re: Middle / second given names

I don't know about the US, but I agree with Meloncollie that you should have one name + surname only in your official documents.



I know one employer who insist that the email must include the full name on the passport - I argued and asked, how come the Swiss guys don't have their middle names in their email? Seems they usually don't have their middle names in their passports even if unofocially they have one. Not sure if this is true...


A lot of things will be easier - think about when you have to do file your taxes or when you buy a house, or when you register your kids for school, etc.
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Old 06.10.2020, 10:58
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Re: Middle / second given names

On the flip side, sometimes a middle name also helps to differentiate all the John Smiths in the world.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:02
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Re: Middle / second given names

A middle name is only good if it’s “cool” and can be used as an alternative to a more formal first name .... ie Meghan Markle. I hate my middle name, it only comes out for official forms like passport applications. I wouldn’t give my child a middle name.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:04
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I don't know about the US, but I agree with Meloncollie that you should have one name + surname only in your official documents.
I don't think that's what she said, just that using what's officially your middle name as your everyday 'given' name can cause confusion.

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A lot of things will be easier - think about when you have to do file your taxes or when you buy a house, or when you register your kids for school, etc.
Sorry, but I completely fail to see any reason why having a middle name makes any of them more complicated. I've had my middle name on passports, bank accounts, etc. etc. all my life, and never once has it caused any difficulty.

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On the flip side, sometimes a middle name also helps to differentiate all the John Smiths in the world.
TBF if the Smith parents wanted their kids to stand out from the crowd they wouldn't be calling them John in the first place.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:05
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Re: Middle / second given names

Most Swiss that I know have middle names, very few don't.

Tom
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:06
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Re: Middle / second given names

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Sorry, but I completely fail to see any reason why having a middle name makes any of them more complicated. I've had my middle name on passports, bank accounts, etc. etc. all my life, and never once has it caused any difficulty.

Maybe I had a really bad experience:


https://www.englishforum.ch/permits-...thorities.html
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:08
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Re: Middle / second given names

I go by my middle name, which was decided upon by my parents. It does make things a bit more complicated because people are surprised when they see legal documents and can't put the name with the face.

However, I'm sure the OP won't do that to their child.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:10
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Re: Middle / second given names

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Maybe I had a really bad experience:


https://www.englishforum.ch/permits-...thorities.html
Your bad experience in that thread seems solely to be attributed to the fact that at some point you failed to understand that the field labelled "name" should include only the surname, so you put in your first name too, and that combination then became seen as the surname in its own right.

Nothing to do with middle names, as far as I can tell at a brief glance.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:10
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Re: Middle / second given names

Some Swiss have middle name(s) some don't.
In daily life most Swiss are known by their first name only and you will never know there middle name(s). In that sense it is properly a better security question than the mothers maiden name.

In some families the middle name might be the name of the child grandmother or grandfather, or the name of the god parent, or something else. I some other families the people have only one name. In addition to that, it is not really know as "middle name" but more as a second, third "first name" (Zweiter Vorname, weitere Vorname).

Only a few Swiss will use their middle name and first name in daily life. Some might use one of the other first names as the regular, primary first name (Rufname). But, unlike in German ID/passports the primary first name is not underlined on Swiss ID papers.

Swiss people which used middle names or middle Initials are mostly infamous: Werner K. Ray, Hans W. Kopp comes to my mind.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:10
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Re: Middle / second given names

I always thought the "middle name" was given as your baptism name. I've never really thought past that. I never use the one I was given but it is on my passport, drivers licence and bank cards, not on my insurance or work related stuff.
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:13
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Re: Middle / second given names

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Your bad experience in that thread seems solely to be attributed to the fact that at some point you failed to understand that the field labelled "name" should include only the surname,
How many times have I had to cross out my first name and replace it with my surname

Form

“Name” (writes first name)

Next box “Voname” ....... Crap!!!
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Old 06.10.2020, 11:24
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Re: Middle / second given names

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Your bad experience in that thread seems solely to be attributed to the fact that at some point you failed to understand that the field labelled "name" should include only the surname, so you put in your first name too, and that combination then became seen as the surname in its own right.

Nothing to do with middle names, as far as I can tell at a brief glance.
You're reading it too briefly and thus not understanding it properly.

My passport shows "Name: John Doe Smith".

No differentiation between first, middle or surname.

In Switzerland (and they quote some EU law), name means surname, so, they (not me) took the whole thing as surname.

Then their computers don't allow them to leave "Vorname" (firstname) as blank, so they (not me) put in the full name again. Thus my name became John Doe Smith John Doe Smith.

I did not do anything wrong. The authorities simply changed it one day without informing me. And it took years for them to fix it and it cost me a lot of money.

I'm just saying - you cannot assume that what works in one country works in another. You might call it a middle name in one country/passport, and then find out that it's defined entirely differently in another country.
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