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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Fayal and the Portuguese. (search)
, and Manuel, adding a fifth for sundries. This all seemed inexplicable, till at last there proved to be an historical kernel to the nut. The Portuguese, and to some extent the Spaniards, have kept nearer to the primitive usage which made the personal name the important one and the patronymic quite secondary. John Smith is not known conversationally as Mr. Smith, but as Mr. John,--Senhor Joao. You may have in society an acquaintance named Senhor Francisco, and another named Senhora Dona Christina, and it may be long before it turns out that they are brother and sister, the family name being, we will suppose, Garcia da Rosa; and even then it will be doubtful whether to call them Garcia or da Rosa. This explains the great multiplication of names in Spain and Portugal. The first name being the important one, the others may be added, subtracted, multiplied, or divided, with perfect freedom. A wife may or may not add her husband's name to her own; the eldest son takes some of the fat