Monday, August 30, 2010

Scientists urge world to adopt rare surnames

BERLIN - Two scientists have proposed a worldwide fight to push back common surnames, suggesting in a German academic journal that the custom of always naming children after their fathers must stop.Harald Jockusch and Alexander Fuhrmann warned that rare surnames were dying out while too many Chinese were named Wang, too many English speakers were named Smith and too many Germans were named Mueller.They proposed that husbands and wives be obliged to weigh up which of their two surnames was rarest and give the rarer one to their children. The two published a mathematical model showing what would then happen if common surnames were weeded out this way.In the simplest scenario, after 50 years, the most common names might become only one fifth as common as now, they predicted.Jockusch is a retired German biology professor. Fuhrmann is an Arizona physicist. The University of Bielefeld said Monday the proposal was aired in an English-language article in the July issue of a journal about names, Beitraege zur Namenforschung.


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