8 oct. 2009

Why is García Lorca known as Lorca rather than García?

García is like "Smith"--the most common surname in Spain. We have two María Garcías among our graduate students. Lorca, on the other hand, is unusual and hence distinctive. (There is a town called Lorca.)

Generally, the paternal surname would be used alone, or in combination with the maternal one. According to this convention I would be Jonathan Mayhew Ellsworth, or Mayhew Ellsworth, but never just *Jonathan Ellsworth or *Ellsworth. You cannot say *José Gasset. It has to be Ortega y Gasset. (My actual name is Jonathan Ellsworth Mayhew, and Ellsworth is my mom's original last name.)

The exception is when the maternal surname is so much more distinctive, as in García Lorca or Pérez Galdós. These names get shortened to Lorca and Galdós, because García and Pérez are like Smith and Jones. You still can't say *Benito Galdós or *Federico Lorca. That sounds funny.

With García Márquez, the maternal surname is distinctive enough to be used. Nobody ever says just Gabriel García. On the other hand, in Spanish he is referred to by both names, not as "Márquez. The "English Department" pronunciation is Mar-QUEEZ, with the accent on the wrong syllable.

1 comentario:

Vance Maverick dijo...

Thanks! (Aren't you saying, though, that Márquez isn't distinctive enough to be used alone?)

Naming really does work differently in different cultures. In English, we somehow hobble along with two classics called Jo(h)nson.

I trust you're pulling our leg with "Mar-QUEEZ". I've heard marKEZ, but not in the English department (then again, I haven't spent much time there).