Monday, May 16, 2005

Blurring the lines--Last name first?

The top news stories for the past couple of days have been about the whereabouts of a mercenary named Akihiko Saito, who was last known to be one of the armed people accompanying a group of trucks in Iraq, and two men who stole a sidearm from a police officer in Japan. Mr. Saito is a sad story, but I will ignore that for now.

The story that attracted my attention was that about the two people who are said to have stolen the service revolver from a police officer in Gifu Prefecture. The police officer whose weapon was stolen, suggested that the two who stole it were foreigners, and now the whole country is on the lookout for two Brazilian men. The fact that they were foreigners receives great attention here, but their names when the are given, are given in the order that a Japanese name would be. Look at the link for the article above. I quote from it here:

The police said they have put two Brazilian residents of Aichi Prefecture — Eguti Mauro De Souza, 22, and Eguti Jorge Edgar De Souza, 26 — on a nationwide wanted list as suspects.

Their names begin with Eguti, a family name. Why would their names be given in this order? Because they are of a Japanese ethnic background? The names were given this way on NHK radio this morning, too. In the Japanese language media, for example in the Mainichi Newspaper, they are given in the same order, but in katakana (a syllabary used for, among other things, writing foreign names).

After searching for the name De Souza at, I found that it is a family name, usually spelled with a lower-case d.

This name order is curious, and it makes me wonder what the conventions are for names in the media.


Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel
I know that in Japan they usually write the family name first on letters or to identify a person in a namelist for example.
I'm Japanese-Brazilian just like those brothers who got arrested in Japan however I live in Brazil.
Here in Brazil the family name "de Souza" is probably the largest family in this country and it is written with a lower case d because the word "de" in english means "of". In this case only "Sousa" would be in upper case "S".

Daniel said...

Thank you very much for the clarification.

I'm still not sure how the press deals with names. Maybe that varies with the press agency, too. They probably have their own style sheets.

Thanks again.