June 27th, 2012

German Naming Customs

Hey folks,

Short and sweet:

Background: Modern day. I have a character who was born in Germany (Frankfurt am Main, roughly in the early to mid 1980s), is German, and therefore named according to the conventions there. However, Wikipedia and browsing other sites on Google has given me some conflicting responses, so my question is,

Do people in Germany use more than one forename (generally speaking), and if so, how is the individual called? I've heard everything from 'Germans don't use more than one forename' (what people in some English-speaking countries would call (a) middle name(s)) to 'They do, but underline the one they want to be called; the rest are generally used on official documents only.' I also know that anything insulting, gender-ambiguous, nouns, place names and anything that can pass for a surname can't be used and approved as a child's legal name.

Research: Wikipedia, Google, 'do Germans have middle names?' 'German naming customs.'

A few concise replies should have me on my way. Once I edit to say I have what's needed, I generally am off to write and don't check back, so please bear that in mind. Thanks!

Edit: I'm pretty well covered. :)Off to get some writing done now, so please excuse any tapering off of replies/reading on my part. Thank you to everyone that helped!