At last, the final week of the A-Z Challenge! How's everyone holding up?
My original post for the letter "U" was going to be about unicorns, but I figure my maiden name would be a unique topic.
In the 1990 U.S. Census, there were nearly 30,000 people in the country with the surname "Ulbrich." I haven't been able to find any statistics about how common the name is in Germany, even though it's a German name. I've seen variations such as "Ulrich" or "Ullrich." It can be used as both a first and last name, although I suspect that's more common in Germany than here.
I've heard different meanings for this name. When I was a teenager, I was told "Ulbrich" came from the words "Adel," meaning noble, and "Brecht," meaning brilliant. This baby name site lists different words for the origin, but the meaning is pretty close. There's more information about this history of the name at this coat-of-arms website, along with a picture of the crest. I'm told that a few generations back (perhaps in my great-grandfather's time, though I'm not certain), we used to have a "von" prefix, which indicates nobility. My uncle is older than my dad, so he would be the titled one if we were still considered noble. (I think he has the family crest on display at his house.) Since I'm adopted, I probably wouldn't be considered "noble," but I find the history of my name interesting anyway.
As I grew up, I encountered many mispellings of my name. Most often, people will try to spell it with an "O" instead of a "U." It's also hard to pronounce. I normally pronounce it something like "Ol-brich" with a long "o." The German way to say it is more like "ool-brich," where the "u" sounds like the double o in "pool." Even though my maiden name is hard to spell, hard to pronounce, and comes near the end of the alphabet, I'm still fond of it. That's why I kept it when I got married. (I just added my husband's surname to my name, so I have four names.) My short story was published under my maiden name, so I wonder sometimes if I should keep using that name for my writing or use something like "Sandra U. Almazan" instead. I think it would confuse readers if I used both surnames, but I could use a different variation of my name if I ever wanted to switch genres. Those of you who use both your maiden and married names, how do you handle it?