American Culture

Naming

  • American names follow western naming conventions: [personal name] [middle name] [family name]. For example, Jacqueline Casey SMITH.
  • Most American personal names are chosen for aesthetic appeal. Many popular names have biblical roots (e.g. Daniel, Michael, David, James, Matthew). Others are influenced by popular culture. For example, female names like Tiffany and Crystal gained popularity as certain luxury items with similar names did.
  • French names are particularly popular among black American families (e.g. Monique, Chantal, André).
  • It is common for a person’s middle name to be the person name of a close relative.
  • Some Americans address each other by their last name alone. For example, a friend may call a man named John Smith just ‘Smith’ without including ‘Mr.’. A boss may also address an employee in this way depending on their relationship.
  • Americans may form nicknames for each other by picking out a trait or characteristic of a person and using it as their social identifier. For example, if everyone in the room is from New York and only one man in the room is from Iowa, he may be addressed lightheartedly as ‘Iowa’. Such nicknames are only used if it is clearly in jest and the situation is casual. Improper use can be interpreted as condescending.
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