I often tell my students that my surname is as common as Smith or Jones. I have known so many Rodriguezes and only about half of them were related to me. I have often been confused for other Rodriguezes as well. Part of the reason may be that there aren’t as many surnames in Spanish-speaking countries as in the U.S. (But don’t quote me on that!) So Hispanics have to stretch out fewer surnames among more people. I also have a common first name. I just looked up David Rodriguez in the Chicago phone book and there are 22 of us listed in the directory! And that doesn’t even include the David Rodriguezes who are unlisted, don’t have a phone, have a cell phone, are minors, or reside in jail! I even argued with my wife against naming my oldest son David for that very reason. That’s why I wanted to name him José.
USA Today (May 11, 2006) states that the 5 most common surnames among U.S. home buyers are Smith, Johnson, Rodriguez, Brown, and Garcia. Why are there so many Rodriguezes buying homes? I’m not really sure. But you see, Rodriguez is the Spanish equivalent of Smith! Even the Rodriguezes are keeping up with the Joneses.
Perhaps an analysis of the etymology of Rodriguez will help explain the popularity of Rodriguez. The surname Rodriguez comes from the combination Rodrigo, the name of the last Visigoth king in Spain, and -ez. The suffix -ez comes from the Visigoth word meaning “son of.” Therefore, Rodriguez means “son of Rodrigo.” All those Spanish surnames that end in -ez actualy mean something. Gonzalez is son of Gonzalo, Lopez is son of Lope, etc. So, is it possible that someone with the surname of Rodriguez may actually be descended from the noble family of the last Visigoth king Rodrigo of Spain? If so, that means that I may actually have the blood of Spanish nobility coursing through my veins! But I seem to have lost the main point of all this!