Regional Herald's Article:

What is a “Major Change”, and Why Would I Accept One?

Coblaith Mhuimhneach
Orbis Herald

You’ve spent weeks researching the perfect S.C.A. name, finding just the right sound, just the right spelling, just the right feeling--a name to which you’ll be proud to answer for the next several decades. You sit down to fill out the name submission form, and before you even get to the part where you summarize all your carefully-collected evidence, they’re asking you whether you’ll permit the Ansteorran College of Heralds or the Society College of Arms to change your name! Why would you even consider doing that?

There are two reasons.

First, unless you’ve done a very thorough and convincing job of proving that every element of the name you’re submitting was used in period as you’re planning to use it, that the elements are plausible together, and that you’ve put them together as they would’ve been put together in period, it’s very possible that checking the “I will not accept... changes” boxes on your submission form will get your name returned for reasons that seem trivial to you. For instance, Laurel recently ruled that the family name O’Moraín can’t be registered because it combines an Anglicized Gaelic particle with a Gaelic personal name. The entirely Gaelic Ó Moraín , on the other hand, is just fine. If you check the “I will not accept minor changes...” box, you’re saying that you would rather have your name returned than have it changed by that much. Similarly, Laurel ruled that the improperly-constructed byname van der Utrecht is unacceptable, while the grammatically-correct van Utrecht can be used. If you check the “I will not accept major changes...” box, you’re saying that you would rather have your name returned than have a change like that made.

Second, submitted names are reviewed by heralds all over the world. Some of them are very, very knowledgeable about names and naming practices. If you permit them to change your name to make it more authentic, you will end up with the most realistic medieval or Renaissance name possible rather than a name that might just “squeak by” on a literal interpretation of the Rules for Submission. Even if you’re not too worried about that now, you might later become more interested in your persona period and decide you want a name that truly fits it. If you’ve registered something inaccurate, the only way to get one will be to go through the whole submissions process again.

Whatever your reasons for permitting changes, you needn’t be concerned that gratuitous or excessive ones will be made. The registering bodies want you to be happy with your name. If they alter it, it will be because it needs to be altered in order to comply with the Rules for Submission or (if you’ve asked them to make it so) to become authentic, and they’ll make the smallest alterations they can that will achieve that goal.

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