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What's In a Name?

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In many countries, the woman takes her husband's family name when they get married. Long, long ago, this meant that the woman had become the property of her husband. Times have definitely changed.

Thankfully, the original purpose of the tradition has lost all of its meaning in most countries. What's more, with greater independence and the pursuit of careers, more and more women select to keep their pre-marriage identity. They either keep their maiden name or use a hyphen to add their husband's name to theirs. However, what options does a man have if he wants to take his wife's name instead?

Back in2005, Michael Buday found the answer. He discovered that it's ridiculously time-consuming and troublesome to change his name. He would have to pay more than $300 in licensing fees, and also need to place an advertisement in a newspaper for four weeks to announce the change. And that's not all because he would also need to attain a judge's approval too. Forty-three other states in the U.S. have similar, old fashioned 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 The lawsuit challenges the longstanding and outdated belief that a "proper man" doesn't take his wife's name.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 thought about a name change before he met Diana Bijon. But she raised the idea while they were dating. She had no brothers, and wanted to preserve her family name. Buday didn't know his father, and the first real father figure in his life was his fiancee's dad. As a result, he wholeheartedly agreed.


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, the woman...
  2. They either keep their maiden name, or use...
  3. He discovered that it's ridiculously...
  4. The lawsuit challenges...
  5. Buday didn't know his father, and...

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.


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