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Old whatsit

I'm not good at names. I never have been.

Some forty years ago home from University unexpectedly I spotted my dad looking in a shop window. I went over and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned on his heel, scrutinised me carefully and asked me who I was. It's a skill he passed on to me.

Good Lord, it's just struck me that there's another possibility, but no, I'm pretty sure he was my father.

This inability to recognise people is a bit of a problem where I work. I have some fixed classes and I generally remember the names of my regular students with only the occasional lapse. I have lots of classes though where I have no idea who will be in the class till moments before it starts and sometimes not till after it has started. It can be quite embarrassing to be greeted effusively by someone who I recognise but whose name has just escaped me for the moment. I have turned it into a bit of a joke, a gift reserved for age and suchlike.

The National Statistical Office published a list today of the most popular, or that may be common, names in Spain.

So far in the 21st Century the preferred name for a boy is Alejandro and for a girl it's María. I should point out that although María has been popular in Spain for ages it was usually in some compound form like María Dolores or María Inmaculada so María per se is quite a new name. Daniel, Pablo, David y Adrián are the next up for the lads and Lucía, Paula, Laura and Marta for the lasses.

The most common names in the general population though are Antonio and Mari Carmen. Next up we have José, Manuel, Francisco, Juan and David. On the female line there are any number of Marias, Carmen, Josefa and Isabel.

García, González and Rodriguez are the most frequent surnames.

So now I have the formula. "It's Antonio isn't it?" for anyone male over say 20 and Carmen/Mari Carmen for the women. Foolproof.


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