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On Sun, 6 Mar 2011 14:05:40 +0100, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>On 4 March 2011 17:31, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> --- On Fri, 3/4/11, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>
>> > > I had always assumed that French names worked like
>> > > English ones with one or
>> > > more given names followed by a single family name, but
>> > > a Romanian friend
>> > > insists that French names work like Romanian names
>> > > with the family preceding the given.
>> >
>> > > Your Romanian friend is simply wrong.
>> >
>> > No, he is not wrong: he just knows the formal way of doing
>> > things. Informally, the order is different.
>>
>> The question then becomes, is this really a "naming custom" in France
>> (formal or otherwise), or simply an expedient of the burocracy in order to
>> make it easier to keep records and file papers?
>>
>Definitely a naming custom. It's used in formal settings in speech, and as I
>said in letters, even hand-written ones. Maybe it started as a bureaucratic
>system to help filing, but it's evolved beyond that.

The French will sometimes set the family name in all caps, when deploying
either order, won't they?  When I came across this it was explained to me
that this device exists precisely because, in contexts in the marches
between formal and informal, it may not otherwise be clear which order is
being invoked, given that there are no commas or anything to tell them apart.  

Alex