All Slavic: Surnames as past tense

Encolpius

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello, there is an interesting phenomenon in Czech surnames. Czech surnames just can be Past Tense or actually Gerund. I wonder if that phenomenon exists in other Slavic languages. Here are some examples:

Mr. Pospíšil ("Mr. Hurried")
Mr. Navrátil ("Mr. Returned")
Mr. Dohnal ("Mr. Caught up")
etc...
 
  • arn00b

    Senior Member
    English
    I had no idea about this. Thanks for bringing this up. Is there somewhere where we can see a longer list of such names?
     
    That's actually the Past Active Participle ("he who hurried", "he who returned", "he who caught up"). In Russian it exists, but residually: my grandfather's surname was Огибалов/Ogibalov from огибать "to bend round" (cp. ohýbat).
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    That's actually the Past Active Participle ("he who hurried", "he who returned", "he who caught up"). In Russian it exists, but residually: my grandfather's surname was Огибалов/Ogibalov from огибать "to bend round" (cp. ohýbat).

    And do you know about a similar Russian list ilocas2 gave us?
     
    Thanks @ilocas2. Do these names take an (-a) form for females? Have they ever in the past? (Odrazil > Odrazila?)
    Such nouns actually exist in Russian, and they even are productive in the slang. They are not feminine per se, but can be applied to both genders, e. g. the neutral меняла "shroff", кутила "debauchee", заводила "live wire" or the slang водила "driver", кидала "magsman", терпила "underdog" [I recall I already wrote this some time ago in another thread]. This type has produced a number of surnames, e. g. Томилин, Будилин, Стукалин, Красилин, Кипелин. Most of these exist along with the -lov-type, e. g. Будилов/Будилин, Кипелов/Кипелин, Красилов/Красилин, Томилов/Томилин, Стукалов/Стукалин, Поспелов/Поспелин, Мерцалов/Мерцалин.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    This article states that the Czech l-surnames were originally agent nouns (nomina agentis) derived from the verbs by the suffix -l (< -lъ < *-los). Similarly in Latin: bibulus (thirsty, drunkard) < bibere (to drink), figulus (potter) < fingere (to form), etc.

    The following nouns are perceived as nomina agentis although they are homonymous to the corresponding l-participles:

    tlachal, kecal, žvanil, prášil, chlubil, blouznil, dřímal, břídil, hýřil, lísal, kýval, fňukal, čmuchal, chrápal, běhal, loudal, ...

    For instance, žvanil is a windbag (chatterbox), derived from the verb žvaniti (to blather/rabbit on). It is homonymous with the l-participle žvanil (stále o tom žvanil = he blathered on about it all the time vs. je to žvanil = he is a windbag; já jsem žvanil = I am a windbag / I (have) blathered on).

    This opinion is supported by the fact that we can form a diminutive žvanílek (little windbag) and feminine form žvanilka (e.g. myška Žvanilka = a talking mouse).

    There are also forms ending in -la, both masc. and. fem.:

    chrápala, čmuchala, kecala, šantala, dřímala, ...

    In Polish, e.g. (Paweł) Brząkała < brząkać, brzękać = břinkal, břinkala < břinkati.
     
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    I wouldn't call them homonymous: etymologically, both the Past Active Participles and these nouns come from the *-lo/lā-nominals (nouns/adjectives) and, as far as I imagine, the participle role is primary for them as they are formed paradigmatically (i. e. from the historical Aorist stem, regularly, without exceptions, unlike word-formation which is always more capricious). The question is whether both roles existed in parallel throughout all their history in Slavic, or the particular productivity of the nouns of this kind in Czech is secondary (e. g. they could have existed in the expressive lexicon, like in Russian and, if I am not mistaken, in the above Czech examples).
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    There are many surnames of Polish origin also in Slovakia, among them also those ending in -la (in the past many Polish families/noblemen/etc ... moved to the Hungarian Kingdom for various historical reasons).

    What I find interesting is that (almost) all these surnames (at least those I've encountered) are of feminine gender (or they seem to be), e.g. Strugala, Klempala, Begala, Šangala and many others that now don't come to my mind. According to what Bibax has written (#13), in Czech both the feminine and masculine forms are present, however the masculine forms in -l do surely significantly prevail.

    So my questions are:
    1) Why do at all the feminine forms exist in function of surnames (especially for men)?
    2) Why this distribution: in Czekia/Bohemia mostly -l and in Poland mostly -la ?
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Such surnames exist in Polish as well, e.g. Musiał (/He/ Had To) or Napierała (/She/ Insisted) and mamy others.

    The name "Napierała" has the same form as the past tense of the verb 'napierać', but I thought that it should be obvious for all Polish speakers that the actual meaning of the name is a masculine noun with a feminine declension pattern, analogue with the nouns like [ten] 'gaduła, guzdrała, pierdoła, maruda, niedołęga', and many others. These nouns have a common negative connotation of being tedious or unskilled.
    The case of 'Musiał' is the same as of the Russian names mentioned by Ahvalj in post #3.
    I suppose that the '-ała' names must have originated in the past participle which has been nominalized by adding the '-a' suffix..
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    There are many surnames of Polish origin also in Slovakia, among them also those ending in -la (in the past many Polish families/noblemen/etc ... moved to the Hungarian Kingdom for various historical reasons).

    What I find interesting is that (almost) all these surnames (at least those I've encountered) are of feminine gender (or they seem to be), e.g. Strugala, Klempala, Begala, Šangala and many others that now don't come to my mind. According to what Bibax has written (#13), in Czech both the feminine and masculine forms are present, however the masculine forms in -l do surely significantly prevail.

    So my questions are:
    1) Why do at all the feminine forms exist in function of surnames (especially for men)?
    2) Why this distribution: in Czekia/Bohemia mostly -l and in Poland mostly -la ?
    These names are not feminine. They are actually "masculine nouns with a feminine declension pattern". Such commen nouns always take a masculine adjective or pronoun, for example "ten stary gaduła" (not *ta stara gaduła). It is, however, possible that the generation of Polish speakers born after 1970 confuse these nouns with feminine nouns.
    Compare analogue nouns in Latin like 'nauta' (sailor).
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Список общерусских фамилий — Википедия

    Russian surnames are not numerous and much more uniform: this article mentions only 257 surnames common to all regions of European Russia.
    But how many surnames are actually used in Russia? There must be many more of them, even if the distribution os not even across the country.
    In Poland about 400 000 have been used in the XIX and XX century. According to a census of 1994 there were 300 000 surnames of living persons and additionally 100 000 surnames of people deceased during the XX century.
     
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