Onomastics in Interaction With Other Branches of Science. Volume 2.

The Reasons Behind Changing Foreign-Sounding Surnames in Sweden and Their Development Between 1925 and 2015

Johan Hedberg
Department of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University, Sweden


In this paper I investigate surname change in Sweden, focusing on the act of changing a foreign- sounding surname and the reasons for surname changes given in applications between the years 1925 and 2015. The various reasons are gathered into different types, and their development over time is investigated further. The results show that the most common type of reason is that the applicant’s current surname causes problems with pronunciation and/ or spelling. There is a clear decline in this type of reason between the 1980s and 2010s, which suggests that it has become less problematic to bear a foreign-sounding surname in Sweden in recent decades. This suggestion is further explored with an investigation of how common it has been to change from a foreign-sounding surname to one based on the Swedish language. This investigation shows that it has become less common to change to a surname based on the Swedish language in recent decades.

surname change, family name, last name, Sweden

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