This is an extension of the questions that I have asked in the German and French communities: some languages have a subset of family names that are indistinguishable from given names, occasionally resulting in confusion. E.g., when talking about Édouard Philippe one cannot be sure whether Édouard is the given name and Philippe is the family one or the other way round (i.e., whether it is Édouard Philippe or Philippe Édouard.) Anecdotally the prevalence of this phenomenon in French can be attested by the proliferation of jokes on the subject.
On the other hand, many languages possess specific markers for family names:
- suffixes, like -ov/-ić/-skii in Slavic languages, -oğlu in Turkish, -son/-sohn/-dóttir in some Germanic ones
- proclitics like ben/bin/ibn in Semitic languages
As far as I understand, the origin of these markers is the same as the origin of the given-name-like family names - indicating the ancestor (typically father).
I would like to learn more about how the family name markers arise and why some languages do not have them:
- Is this a matter of a historical accident or is this related to the structure/grammar of the language?
- How prevalent is the existence or non-existence of such markers in languages with a defined notion of family name?
In principle French/English/German do use proclitics de/of/von, but these seem to be limited to geographic (rather than family) origins.