The surname is for many people, an invention brought about by the telephone. The telephone requires a person to identify his or herself, and this can only realistically be done on a large scale basis, by the use of a sur or 'add on' name. It is estimated that in the last years of the 20th century over three billion people on earth have a 'surname', although this figure was much less than one billion in 1945. This means that for many people their (sur)name is perhaps only two generations old, and any recordings that exist are so current as to have no long term genealogy.What can be said is that all surnames from wherever they are to be found fall into five main categories. The oldest form is the patronymic or tribal name taken from an original given name, often that of the first chief or head of the household. These names may be religious which is usually the case with muslim or christian names, or may derive from ancient mythology relative to the particular area or country. The second form is locational or habitational, where a person is named from the place where they live or lived. The third is occupational, although traditionally these only became hereditary when a son followed a father into the same line of business, and the fourth, 'nicknames', usually from a persons appearance or characteristics. Lastly we have the 'ornamental' category. These are names which are largely abstract, and often represent the finer things in nature.
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