So here’s the brilliant thought I had while shivering and waiting for the bus this morning: America needs a family name reassignment plan.
Admittedly, I’m probably only speaking for Anglos or at best Euros, since that’s where my knowledge of names resides, and I’m definitely only speaking about occupation-derived or location-derived names.
In any case, the deal would be that either you have to start working in the job your last name comes from, or you have to get a new family name based on your current occupation, if your family name is occupation-derived. If your family name is location-derived, you don’t have to face a threat of deportation, but you do have to come up with a new relevant one with your extended family.
Occupation-based examples: Nobody makes barrels anymore, so all the Coopers get new names. People like Jim Groom though, get the choice (first come, first serve on the available grooming jobs).
Location-based examples: I once knew someone with the last name of Ragusa, presumably related to the Sicilian city or province. (Possible, of course, that it originated in the 450-year existence of the Republic of Ragusa in what is now Croatia, but I’m pretty sure it was Sicilian.) She could always move to Sicily if she liked, but my guess is she’d rather have her name changed to something like Tenafly or Orange. Note that I’m not proposing a recursive transformation here. Cooperstown doesn’t have to change its name, nor does it have to try to become the center of hipster artisanal barrel-making in the US of A.
Now, I have no idea what to do with genealogical (as many Celtic names are), color-based (e.g. Michel Blanc), or talismanic names (a naive search suggests that there are such). That’s a post for another time.