Jump or Run? A Name Game


Jumping through hoops and lots of running around.  Life is made up of both these things.  So which is it?  Jumping or running?  For me the question relates not only to life, but also to a last name situation.

My maiden name is Skok.  My father was born Fiume, Italy.  Fiume is now called Rijeka and is part of Croatia.  After WWII, Italy lost most of Istria (a peninsula where Fiume was located) to Yugoslavia.  In 1991, Yugoslavia became Croatia during the breakup of the Communist Bloc.  The reason for this little history lesson is that although my father is 100% Italian, there IS that last name that does not seem to be Italian.  In fact, the letter “K” does not exist in the Italian alphabet.  But the “K” DOES exist in Slavic alphabets.  And if you look up “skok” in Mr. Google translate, you will see that “skok” means jump when translated from Polish, Czech, Croatian and a variety of other Slavic languages into English.

Now let’s have a look at hubby’s last name:  Corridori.  I guess it is pretty clear this IS an Italian last name.  If you go back to Mr. Google translate and enter Corridori, it will give you “runners” as the English translation.

So it seems my pre-married life was all about jumping around.  Then I became a runner as living in the United States women generally change their names after marriage.  We got married in 1998, so I lived eight years as a runner.  Then eight years ago, we moved to Italy.  In Italy, you keep your maiden name and cannot change it even if you want to.  You keep the name you were born with and your children will take their father’s name.  So I went back to being a jumper.  And what can I say?  I was secretly a little excited to get my cool sounding maiden name back.  I think hubby was secretly a little sad that I took my cool maiden name back even though I had no choice.

Now, this name situation has caused all kinds of red tape confusion in the old country because in Italy there is red tape confusion even for something as simple as holding your mail.    Italians are precise.  Everything is done with precision where documents are concerned.   As an example and since I have already brought the posta into the story, if you try to pick up a package that has “Diana Skok Corridori” written on it, and you have ONE document that says “Diana Skok” and another one that says “Diana Corridori” they will refuse to give you your package!  Even if they know you!  Ha, ha, ha, ha!  Because if you cannot produce one valid document that says:  “Diana Skok Corridori” – well – you might not get your package.  But this is a part of Italian life I have come to accept.

Apart from the red tape loving Italians, the problem that remains now is how to call myself on my resume, on this blog, on linked in, etc…   I thought since I am living in Italy, I should go back to being a jumper, but then I felt like a traitor (poor hubby).  Then I tried both names, but it seemed too long, and who can really jump and run at the same time apart from Olympic athletes?  So I finally decided just to go running.  I DID after all run (OK!  JOG) a marathon last year.

My favorite idea on the subject is from Iceland:  “An Icelandic woman customarily retains her maiden name upon marrying, because regardless of whom she marries she remains her father’s daughter.”  This is so true!  And I agree with this, however, it is not my father that must put up with me these days, it is hubby.  So since he has to deal with me, I guess I can at least take his name.  Who knows?  I am sure I will change my mind again.

Anyway, my last name delimma got me curious about customs around the world related to name taking especially after learning the Icelandic view on the subject.  So below are customs in other countries.  I obtained this info from the web, so please feel free to correct me or to even share your country’s customs!


“Since the 1789 Revolution, the law stipulates that ‘no one may use another name than that given on his birth certificate’.”

OK, the Frenchies are pretty straight forward.


The general rule is a person is given a first name followed by TWO surnames.  The first surname is the father’s and the second the mother’s.  If a woman gets married she adds “de (and the husband’s last name) to the two surnames she already has!  Let’s look at this example:

Maria Cruz Ramirez  is the daughter of Javier Cruz and Monica Ramirez.  If Maria gets married to Jose Sanchez, she becomes:  Maria Cruz Ramirez de Sanchez.  Wow….great name!


As mentioned above, the notion of being your father’s daughter is REALLY important in Iceland, so much so, that the last names of  children of Icelandic couples  will be derived from their father’s FIRST name.  There are no family names.  Example:

“When a man called Karl has a daughter called Anna and a son called Magnús, their full names will typically be Anna Karlsdóttir (“Karl’s daughter”) and Magnús Karlsson (“Karl’s son”). The name is not changed upon marriage.”


Russia was difficult to understand.  But based on the characters of “Anna Karenina” I think I figure out how it works.

It appears similar to the Icelandic way of naming children.  However, it seems that a son will also take the family name, whereas the daughter will not.  However, when she marries, she will add her husband’s name onto hers.  So she will have:  1.  A given name.  2.  A version of her father’s FIRST name.  3.  The family name of her husband.

Look at the characters from “Anna Kareina” below:

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina:  Stepan Oblonsky’s sister.
Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky:  Anna’s brother.
Darya  Alexandrovna Oblonskaya:  Stepan’s wife and Anna’s sister-in-law.

Wow!  Lots of name games for the day.  Now I am too tired to jump or run and I might just go and SLEEP!

36 Comments on “Jump or Run? A Name Game

  1. Great article! I had no idea it was like this in Russia. In Bolivia too, they use like in Spain with “de” and the husbands name. My husband is Bolivian, but I have not taken the “de Aguilar”. For me it feels unatural, like you are own by someone. So I decided not too… I also find the tradition in Iceland fascinating..

    • YES!!! I thought the EXACT same thing when I read about the “de” part…for sure sounds like you are owned by someone! I love, love, love the Icelandic tradition!

  2. I really enjoyed your post! Last names are such a dilemma I think. Being an American, and living in a very progressive city and community, people are very open to whatever people decide to do with last names when marrying and/or having children. I appreciate that in Spain both the mother’s and father’s lines live on through the children, but with marriage, its all very paternally weighted generally speaking. How does one be a part of the family they create through name while acknowledging their family lines? Its a hard one! I kept my maiden name (Mangus) and my kids have my husband’s last name (Atack), and I’m not super happy with that arrangement, but I didn’t feel right giving up my maiden name. If I could change anything now, I would just change my last name to – Anna Mangus Atack. This is pretty common here among my people in Seattle. But at this point, I’m too intimidated by all the work involved to change it – LAZY!!!

    • Hi Anna! Yes….I totally agree. It seems only right that the entire family would have the same last name, but then again, that means WE (Females) have to give up our names. Or do as you suggested to add hubby’s name to yours. But again as you mention: paper work.

  3. Funny b/c we were just talking about all of this at xmas time! 🙂 I was telling Cyn how I was just reading a really interesting article about English last names – that many of them were occupational in origin (Smith, Taylor, Cook, Weaver, etc.) or described a personal characteristic (Long, Short, White, etc.), places, or father’s names (like Stephenson). This is the article: http://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/there-are-7-types-of-english-surnames-which-one-is-yours/

    In Dubai the names indicate family history and refer to the father like in Iceland- “bin” means son and “bint” means daughter – so for instance the Sheikh of Dubai is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum (Mohammed, son of Rashid, of the Maktoum family.) Sometimes they use the Dad AND Grandad – as if there weren’t enough names! So the Crown Prince is Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Once I figured out the bin/bint thing it was a lot easier to remember all of the ruling family’s names. 🙂

    • Of COURSE y’all were just talking about this stuff, because all of us are always on the same wavelength! Always!!!! 🙂 Anyway…..the Crown Prince’s name is so funny!

  4. Makes me happy I’m not Spanish or Russian – I wouldn’t even be able to remember my own name 😉 In Ireland, women generally still take the husband’s name I think, but they might keep their own name for professional purposes – easier than changing it on everything!

  5. All those rules make my head spin. 🙂 I took my husband’s surname when we got married (and I kind of like that he, our kids and I all share the same name), but I do see why a woman would want to retain her name, especially the older she is when she marries for the first time, given it’s her ‘identity’. I say, whatever floats your boat is what you should do. That said… in some countries you can’t necessarily make that call.

    Fun fact, you and I share some shared heritage. My parents are from Macedonia, a part of the former Yugoslavia. 🙂

    • Hi Nancy! I know…all the rules are nuts. There were other countries that had interesting rules, but they were so confusing, I left them out of the post! ha, ha, ha…..now see? When I first saw your user name, I thought we were tied together by Texas. Then I found out that was not the case. But it seems we are tied together after all….just Yugoslavia instead of Texas! 🙂 Very cool about your parents. Have you ever visited there?

      • Many times as a child. The last time was the summer before I turned 16. 6 months later I met my husband (then boyfriend) and my trips back to Yugo were history. Funny thing is that I’ve been to Madeira Island (Portugal), where his family is from, 3x since then, but never back to where my roots are. One of these days.

      • Ohhhh….yes….you need to get back there! I would love to travel throughout that entire area. Lots to see even in the surrounding areas – – – southern Croatia, even Albania – – – the beaches there looks beautiful.

  6. I didn’t know that Italian women keep their maiden names, how interesting. I kept my maiden name when I married my husband as I had a fashion business using my name. Also my name is much more interesting than his. My name is Finnish (from my grandfather). It is quite unusual even in Finland…Kolkka. I like it.

    • Hi Debra – – I love your last name too! But then again, I am partial to last names with all those “k’s” 🙂 thanks for the comment and have a great weekend!!!!

  7. Oh I loved your post!! This is very interesting for me personally. I am still not married but I would love to be, we have been together for a long time and it would be nice to finally get married one day!
    In the UK you take your husband’s surname but if you are an Italian national you keep you own and I like that! I am not sure I would like to be called something different at this point in life. I am so used to my own surname.
    It is interesting that in America the law is the same as here. Great post!
    Ciao bella!

    • Yes, I found out that most Anglo-Saxon countries take the husband’s name. I guess I was surprised about keeping your name in Italy, as Italy seems like such a male-dominated country at times. So I thought for sure they would want their wives to take their names. Anyway……if you get married, I can only imagine what fabulous food there will be at your wedding! It will be a fun party for sure!!! 🙂

  8. Great article, Diana! It reminded me of Sex and the City when Carrie writes her articles. Very informative and interesting.

    • Hi Lauren! Thanks!!! yes….love the different customs in the world…..all this time I was thinking everyone did it just like Americans till I moved here! Gosh…..the world is a fun and fascinating place

  9. I love this! I had no idea the Italian women kept their maiden name and that you have been running around as Diana Skok again for the past 8 years! You have NOT lived in Italy that long!!! I cannot believe it! Keeping ypur father’s last name is pretty sweet as I send Natalie and Britt off on their annual Daddy/Daughter ski trip. Pretty special stuff! Love this post!

    • Hi Sheri! I know…can you believe it?!?!! EIGHT years!!! The time flies……and yes….I went right back to Diana Skok. All of my documents are in Skok and are required to be. But can I tell you that if Umberto is completing a document and has to put my name, he puts “Corridori.” He knows better than to do that, because then I have no Italian documents to produce with that name. But he did NOT like me going back to Skok! ha, ha, ha….soooo possessive! Anyway…..wishing Mr. Britt and Natalie a beautiful trip!

    • Graham!!! What a sweet comment! Gosh! And to think I have never been a big fan of my first name….thanks again and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  10. This morning I started working on a post about middle names and how the middle name being just a formality doesn’t exist in Italy-unless there is a ‘virgola’. it’s very interesting. I think the custom of changing to the husband’s surname is an Anglo-Saxon tradition. You will be interested to know that in dialetto Orsarese (in Orsara di Puglia) ‘i shkok’ are popcorn! Molto cute! Cristina

    • Hi Cristina! Oh gosh! The middle name! I left that out of my post because it was way too complicated to get into. But suffice it to say, I have had to change my codice fiscale for that middle name of mine. A huge, big mess! Anyway…I look forward to your post!

    • I know!!! Crazy right? I must admit that until I moved to Italy, I thought all cultures did it the way Americans did!

  11. That is fascinating and confusing all at the same time! I am especially intrigued by the Icelandic method. Happy running, Signora Corridori!

  12. Yes…the Icelandic method is very interesting!! Thanks for stopping by Renate!!! Buona giornata!

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