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What's In a Name?

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In many countries, tradition has had the woman assume her husband's family name upon marriage. Long, long ago, this signified that the woman became the property of her husband. Times have definitely changed.

Thankfully, the original purpose of the tradition has long since lost all meaning in most countries. What's more, with the increased independence and the pursuit of careers, more and more women opt to maintain their pre-marriage identity. They either keep their maiden name or attach their husband's name to it via a hyphen. However, what options does a man possess should he want to take his wife's name instead?

Michael Buday found the answer. He discovered that it's ridiculously time-consuming and troublesome to do just that. Not only would it cost more than $300 in licensing fees, but he would also need to place a public advertisement in a newspaper for four weeks. And that's not all, as he would also need to attain a judge's approval. Forty-three other states in the US have similar, outdated policies on the books. And although Buday decided to sue the state of California only, it may impact other states too. The lawsuit challenges the longstanding and outdated belief that a "proper man" doesn't take his wife's name.

Michael Buday had never really given much thought to a name change before he met Diana Bijon. But she broached the subject while they were dating because, with no brothers, she wanted to preserve her family name. Estranged from his own father, the first real father figure in Michael's life was his fiancee's dad. As a result, he wholeheartedly supported the idea.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. Your name is your identity.
  2. Your name isn't as important as your character.
  3. It's important for a woman to change her last name when she gets married.
  4. Men should change their last name when they get married.
  5. Anyone should be able to change their name anytime they want.

Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.

  1. In many countries, tradition has had the woman...
  2. They either keep their maiden name or...
  3. Not only would it cost more than $300 in licensing fees, but...
  4. But she broached the subject while they were dating because...
  5. Estranged from his own father...

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Do you think it's fair that it's so difficult for a man to change his name? Why/not?
  2. Do you think it's fair that children usually take their father's family name? Why/not?
  3. Would you expect your fiancee to change his/her name (or would you change your name)?
  4. Have you ever thought about changing your name? Why/not?
  5. For what reasons might your change your name? Do you think they are good reasons?
  6. Do you agree with the article's findings?  Why/not?

Google Search: Type "maiden name" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:



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