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Technology creator explains reason not to hyphenate last names

Morten Rand-Hendriksen (@mor10web), a specialist in web development, artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, took to his TikTok page to share why he thinks people shouldn’t hyphenate their names or their children’s names.

According to Rand-Hendriksen, who acknowledged his own hyphenated last name, computer engineers in the 1970s, who were responsible for the identity infrastructure that many systems use today, omitted the ability to use a hyphen to reduce the number of characters that could be used. Rand-Hendrikson explained that this causes several inconsistencies when it comes to banking or even government identity cards.

“My passport registers as two last names with no hyphen,” he said. “But airline tickets register as one smushed-together name. So that passport name doesn’t match the airline ticket name, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Rand-Hendriksen, who is Canadian and Norwegian, explained how these systems are governed differently depending on the country, which can cause major issues — especially when traveling.

“It created so much trouble for my brother who travels a lot that he changed his last name,” he said.

Several TikTokers who have hyphens in their names fully agreed with Rand-Hendriksen.

“Can confirm. the hyphen is terror,” replied @crenshawcreative.

“I have a hyphen in my first and last name, can confirm it’s a nightmare,” commented @alhassmh.

“My parents did this to me. was so happy when I got married and changed it,” replied @aceygreyy.

While Rand-Hendriksen advised against hyphenating names, many cultures around the world follow this practice. In many Hispanic countries, women don’t just take the name of the man they marry. Instead, the names are combined (and sometimes hyphenated) to show unity between both families. In this system, the father’s name precedes the mother’s.

Sylmarie Dávila-Montero explained for Diverseeducation.com how seriously people take this custom. “In Puerto Rico, if for any reason we do not write our second surname, we usually get called out by someone asking, ‘Don’t you have a mother?’”

Although this is a common practice for Latinx and Hispanic families, hyphenating last names is also a growing tradition in the United States.

A 2015 Google Consumer Survey showed that about 10% of married women are choosing to hyphenate their last name. In 2018, Portland State University professor Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer conducted a study which showed that 3% of married men either hyphenated their name or changed their name altogether.

Currently, couples are also choosing other options outside of the traditional practice of the woman taking the man’s last name. According to CNN, about 20% to 30% of women keep their last names when marrying. Furthermore, the couples are starting to follow a trend in which they combine each other’s name to form a new last name for the family.

The hashtag #hyphenatednames on TikTok has over 750,000 views, with many of the top videos showing people excited to combine their names.

Despite the potential issues that come with hyphenating names — and the pushback that some TikTokers receive — many people still appear open to rocking the hyphen.

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