Personal names around the world

How do people’s names differ around the world, and what are the implications of those differences on the design of forms, ontologies, etc. for the Web?


People who create web forms, databases, or ontologies are often unaware how different people’s names can be in other countries. They build their forms or databases in a way that assumes too much on the part of foreign users. This article will first introduce you to some of the different styles used for personal names, and then some of the possible implications for handling those on the Web.

This article doesn’t provide all the answers – indeed in some cases it may not be clear what the best answer is. It attempts to mostly sensitize you to some of the key issues by way of an introduction.

(via Personal names around the world –

Worth reading for the examples they use alone.

I’ve been thinking about how form forms could be standardised to accept any names:

Admittedly, I know nothing about databases, but it seems to me that as long as you can implement a decent search you should still be able to find people, even if the surnames aren’t neatly organised in ‘First_name’, ‘Last_name’ type categories.

Even so, I see a lot of problems with this model, but it is still fun to think about.