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Summary Details

Query:   -EZ Suffix on Spanish Surnames
Author:  Tom Flynn
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Morphology

Summary:   Thank you to the two dozen or so interested parties who responded to my query about the -EZ suffix on Spanish surnames. I summarize the consensus here.

All correspondents are agreed that the -EZ is a patronymic, indicating ''son of ROOT NAME''. Note that the root name is always a man's first name, although this is sometimes deceptive because a first name may have fallen into disuse since the family name was formed, or because the first name has undergone phonetic changes. But, for example, Alvarez means ''son of Alvaro,'' Perez means ''son of Pedro,'' and Rodriguez means ''son of Rodrigo.''

Three origins for the ending have been suggested - the genitive ending, -is, of Latin third declension names, Visigothic origin, and Ligurian. Penny (A History of the Spanish Language, 2nd Ed., 2002, p15f) supports the Visigothic origin. Kim Schulte cites Menendez Pidal, 1952, ''Toponimia prerromana hisp?nica'', pp. 79, 81-83, 162-165 in support of a Ligurian origin.

Arista da Silva contends that not all -Ez suffixes are patronymic:

Chavez - from Portuguese ''chaves'' meaning ''keys''
Torrez - from Latin ''Turris'', meaning ''a person who lives in a tower.''
Alvarez - ''al'' from Arabic meaning ''the''; ''faris'' Arabic ''knight, cavalier''

Again, thanks to all who responded - apparently the topic is of interest to a fair number of readers.

Tom Flynn,
English and Deaf Communications Instructor,
St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley

LL Issue: 15.1432
Date Posted: 04-May-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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