Monday, August 27, 2007

The Sins of the Fathers

Teaching English as a Foreign Language: Sins of the Fathers

Our overview of the history of surnames or last names in the English language continues to be a fascinating journey of information and discovery for our English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners. Here, we’ll look at how some other commonly used English surnames were derived from famous or noteworthy predecessors and family heritage and ancestors. Non-withstanding, as the use of surnames grew, sons with fathers who were well known wanted to continue to be associated with the family. Unfortunately, the sins of the fathers were “passed on” to the sons as well.

The following examples of surnames actually mean “the son of …” So for example, the English surname “Kennison” would be the son of Ken, etc.

Who is Your Father?

Peter son or Petersen
Williamson or Willamson
Jackson or infrequently Jakeson
Wilson or Willson
Nelson or Nellson
Benson or Bennson
Harrison or Hairston
Manson or Mansen
Olson or Olsen
Jenson or Jensen

In our continuing considering of the selection, development and evolution of surnames in English, a list of surnames ( helps to offer us some enlightenment as to not only the variety of surnames that became available, but also their frequency and derivations. In other articles, we’ve seen how surnames were developed from occupations, animals, nature, and colors.

The history of surnames or last names, in English is indeed a continually fascinating one in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language. In our next and final segment entitled, “A Rose By Any Other Name”, we’ll look at how some other commonly used English surnames were derived from food, nature and other objects as superstitions and pagan beliefs sometimes play a key role in the selection and adoption of a person or family’s surname. While some surnames were taken from foodstuffs or plants, others were assumed from nature or natural objects. Even so, many if not most of these types of surnames are still in widespread use today.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for the no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail:

No comments: