Why do many Hispanics have two last names?

In Spain and Latin America, a child is given both its father’s last name and its mother’s maiden name.

For example, Anita Castillo Sanchez would be the daughter of a father named Castillo and a mother whose maiden name was Sanchez.

The mother is thereby honored along with the father, though her name will drop out in subsequent generations. For example, if Anita has a daughter Josefina by a man named Martinez, the daughter is born Josefina Martinez Castillo; the name Sanchez disappears.

In the United States, Hispanics usually streamline their two last names down to one, the father’s name.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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