This post is not about Donald Trump, but as you know he recently met with the President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. What’s been interesting to watch is how the President is named by various people.

His full name is Enrique Peña Nieto.

You can shorten it to Peña Nieto.

You can further shorten it to Peña.

A lot of people, however, are defaulting to Nieto. Which makes sense, since Nieto is the last of the three names presented. Even before she dropped the Rodham, nobody referred to Hillary Rodham Clinton by that name. It was the middle name.

Where it gets tricky is that in Mexico, the last name isn’t always the surname. It is typically the mother’s maiden name. It is part of the full name, and appears last, but not the “last name” as we think of it. And often it’s skipped entirely. Former President Vincente Fox is actually Vicente Fox Quesada. He just never uses the last last name. In between the two was President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. Usually referred to as Calderón.

In the same way that Hillary Clinton incorporated Rodham into her formal name, Peña has incorporated “Nieto” into his formal name, and so it appears a lot more often than did Quesada or Hinojosa. So frequently you hear Peña Nieto. But when there’s only one, it’ll be Peña. As indicated by the English-language Mexican newspaper linked to at the beginning of this piece.

Despite knowing this, I nonetheless feel the urge to go with “Nieto” for a separate reason. Specifically, the “n” with the tilde (~) is not easily accessible on this keyboard. It can be typed, but it’s actually easier to go to the Wikipedia page and copy and paste (which is what I did here). Historically, it has been regular to drop the tilde and go with “Pena” but this tends to irk a lot of Spanish-speakers because it’s actually a different letter with a different sound.

If it were accepted, I’d simply adjust the spelling to meet the sound, by calling him (in this instance) Enrique Penia Nieto. This is not unheard of with names from other languages, such as Former German president Gerhard Schröder, or as we sometimes liked to call him, Gerhard Schroeder. (To further complicate things in that case, pronunciation of his name varies here from Shrohder, Shrewder, and Shrayder.)

Long story short, in addition to recognizing the importance of the middle (surname) name in Mexico, we do need new keyboards. Maybe another shift-style key or something that adds tildes, accents, and umlauts without resorting to ASCII jujitsu or copy-and-paste.


Category: Newsroom

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10 Responses to When The Middle Name Is The Last Name

  1. Peter says:

    Most blogospheric references to Hillary Clinton refer to her as Hillary. I’m not sure whether that’s done to distinguish her from Bill Clinton or because of a reluctance to refer to women by their last names. I’d say the latter, but then again the ‘sphere never refers to The Most Hated Person in the World as “Angela.”

  2. SFG says:

    I will say I rather enjoyed the bit they put out on Breitbart (yes, I know) just before Huma cut off Weiner, about how they’d do things in the White House, with Huma finally publicly acknowledging her relationship with Hillary and Bill mentoring Weiner about how to pick up girls.

    It’s too bad the media’s so left-wing.

    “Now Anthony, you just gotta walk around like this.”

    “Now without the phone, Tony, without the phone.”

  3. SFG says:

    I will say I rather enjoyed the bit they put out on Breitbart (yes, I know) just before Huma cut off Weiner, about how they’d do things in the White House, with Huma finally publicly acknowledging her relationship with Hillary and Bill mentoring Weiner about how to pick up girls.

    It’s too bad the media’s so left-wing.

    “Now Anthony, you just gotta walk around like this.” (Bill does a little dance)
    (Weiner does his best imitation of Bill)
    “Now without the phone, Tony, without the phone.”

    Sorry, everything in brackets disappears. This a way to keep out the alt-right?

    • trumwill says:

      It’s a plugin. It’s trying to format stuff.

      You know the whole thing with the three parenthesis? Can’t do that, either (in posts at least). It thinks you’re making a footnote.

      • SFG says:

        ( ( ( Jonas Salk ) ) ) and ( ( (Albert Sabin) ) ), inventors of the polio vaccine…

        (*(*( Jonas Salk*)*)*) and (*(*(Albert Sabin)*)*), inventors of the polio vaccine…

  4. kirk says:

    I was never able to figure out the three-name thing in my Spanish class. They’d give us a family tree with all these blanks, and I could never get more than one or two people’s names correct out of like, thirty or so.

  5. Mike Schilling says:

    Macs do ñ and ö with the option key.

  6. Brandon Berg says:

    Seems like the sort of thing that could be handled in software. You could press a certain key combination and be presented with a list of words that closely match the last word you typed. And maybe another sequence to get diacritic variations on the last character you typed.

    Alternatively, there could be a combining key like some other languages’ keyboards have. We have a tilde and circumflex. Apostrophe and backtick can be used for acute and grave accents, and a colon is like a sideways trema. So you could type u, combining key, :, and it would combine the two to make a ü.

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