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BobK
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:40 pm      Post subject: Polish Surnames
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Looking for my mother's surname, NIEWIERA, on the familysearch.org web site, I got 44 'hits'. The odd thing about it was, all but one were females! .. Most were Christenings, some were births, but only ONE MALE!
This was their International Genealogical Index, and were early 1700's to late 1800's and most in East Prussia (which was part of Poland earlier).

I know first names can be male or female depending on ending (Joseph or Josephina, Robert or Roberta), would the surname NIEWIERA be basically feminine? Familysearch doesn't have a soundex or 'starts with' kind of search, and I tried other endings, but found no male listings.

Did I just find an unusual list? Or is NIEWIERA the feminine version of a different male surname??

Bob K.
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Zenon
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Post Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:43 am      Post subject:
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Bob,

Polish surnames ending with -ski or -cki (e.g. Kowalski, Potocki) have female form ending with 'a': -ska, -cka (e.g. Kowalska, Potocka). However, all other surnames (I can't find any exception now) , including Niewiera, do not change their ending, regardless of who, woman or man, we are talking about.
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Henryk
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Post Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:21 pm      Post subject:
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Zenon wrote:
Bob,
Polish surnames ending with -ski or -cki (e.g. Kowalski, Potocki) have female form ending with 'a': -ska, -cka (e.g. Kowalska, Potocka). However, all other surnames (I can't find any exception now) , including Niewiera, do not change their ending, regardless of who, woman or man, we are talking about.

I wish it was that simple. Here is Fred Hoffmans view:
http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/POLAND-ROOTS/2008-02/1203870385
Quote:
Hi,
Rita Robinson <ritarobin> wrote:
> Gotta disagree Joe, the gender endings are still used today. My cousins two
> children in their 30's still use them. He is cki and she is cka.

As I'm sure Joe will point out -- if he hasn't already -- he meant the endings -anka and -onka, common in older records, are not used much in modern standard Polish. He wasn't referring to the endings -ska and -cka, which are still in common use.

It's interesting, however, that even those endings are not used automatically any more, as they used to be. The 2002 PESEL data on which Prof. Rymut based his updated version of the _Slownik nazwisk_ clearly shows a significant number of females go by the masculine versions of adjectival surnames these days. For example, these days there are a few Polish women choose to go by KOWALSKI -- though the vast majority still go by KOWALSKA. With some other surnames of adjectival origin, the percentage is actually significant. It used to be unheard of for females to use the masculine form. We'll have to see if this is just a temporary social phenomenon, or if -ska and -cka and -zka will eventually go the way of -owa and -owna, which used to be standard but are used less and less these days.

One last word on -anka, of which -onka was apparently a regional or dialect variation. I have a "Teach-Yourself-Polish" book, first published in 1948, revised and reissued in 1964. It still says that surnames derived from nouns and ending in -a create the form for an unmarried female with the ending -anka, while married females use forms ending in -ina. Thus Mrs. Zaremba would be Zarembina, and Miss Zaremba would be Zarembianka. Zaba/Zabianka fits this pattern. Note that the final consonant of the name's stem form was sometimes modified, and the vowel as well, so that
Mrs. Sikora was Sikorzyna, and Miss Sikora was Sikorzanka. Most other noun-derived surnames, including those ending in -o, formed the married version with -owa and the unmarried version with -owna, e. g., Mrs. Kosciuszko = Kosciuszkowa and Miss Kosciuszko = Kosciuszkowna.

So as of the 1960s, these forms were still technically correct; and I imagine you may still run into them. A book by Jan Grzenia published in 2002, _Slownik nazw wlasnych_ [A Dictionary of Proper Names], gives information in the foreword on how to decline feminine surname forms ending in -owa and -anka. So they're still common enough that it was necessary to mention them. But from what I hear, they are considered old-fashioned and are being used less and less often. I welcome comment from Poles who want to shed light on the subject based on their experiences.

Fred Hoffman

By the way the site:
http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/
gives only data fot the surname as entered and not for the other gender spelling, contrary to the Rymut site. For example, you must enter both Kowalski and Kowalska to get all the data.
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BobK
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Post Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 2:49 pm      Post subject:
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Well, the mystery deepens.

I did that search on familysearch.org as I couldn't find my mother & grandmother's Ellis Island manifest. I wanted to see just how many NIEWIERA's they had (the name is not very common at all!).
In writing that earlier post, I commented how there wasn't a phonetic or 'starts-with' search there, but then remembered that http://stevemorse.org/ellis2/ellisgold.html has lots of flexability in searching Ellis Island names. By seaching for "starts with" NIEWIE I managed to find a few more differing endings and at the bottom of the list - there was my grandmother's and my mother's first names and their right ages and the right arrival date!

BUT, instead of Rosila & Mary NIEWIERA it was NIEWIEVOWA !!

I thought it was a mistranslation of the handwritten ship's manifest. But it wasn't, the name was clearly written as NIEWIEROWA (the handwritten R was very close to looking like a V, but Mary's name had that same handwritten R - even though that was correctly translated)

To the right, where it asked "..nearest relative & address, where you came from.." was "Anna JAKUCOWA, Niecjeoic". That was my great grandmother's name (Rosila's mother) - Only her surname should have been JAKUC not JAKUCOWA. That OWA ending is the same as on my grandmother's married name! ...

I show the village name as that too was handwritten wrong, instead of "Nieciewa" the actual name, it was written "Niecjeoic", a bit harder to decipher - as the '..cje..' could be other letters, but the "IC" ending was very clear, very readable!?

The next ship manifest page, with the "who are you going to see & where" had my grandfather's name - only it wasn't Josef NIEWIERA, but Josef NIEWIEROW ..

Some background:
Rosila was marked "not able to read/write", so maybe she pronounced it wrong - but didn't emigrants have all their paperwork already filled out?
Josef was Lithuanian, maybe why I found so many of his surname from East Prussia (what was, way back, and is now Lithuania).
Rosila was Polish, though her village today is in Belarus, not far from today's Lithuanian border.
The year of emigration was 1913, so some name endings were subject to changing back then (per above posts).
I mention these things in case of regional, or accent may affect this.

I'm STILL puzzled over the 43 female NIEWIERA's vs 1 male at Familysearch.org found in East Prussia. I suspect name ending strangeness there too.

Anyone care to take a guess at these name ending changes?

Thanks,
Bob K

Ok.. had to google up some answers and found: http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Suchostaw/polish_patronymics_and_surname_suffixes.htm that adds even more than above, and expands on the use of "OWA". Still don't understand the "OW" added to her husband's name, or the "IC" on the end of the village name.
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Zenon
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Post Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:55 pm      Post subject:
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Henryk wrote:
Zenon wrote:
Bob,
Polish surnames ending with -ski or -cki (e.g. Kowalski, Potocki) have female form ending with 'a': -ska, -cka (e.g. Kowalska, Potocka). However, all other surnames (I can't find any exception now) , including Niewiera, do not change their ending, regardless of who, woman or man, we are talking about.

I wish it was that simple. Here is Fred Hoffmans view (...)


You are right Henryk, I should have mentioned also about old forms of female surname endings which can be found in old records. In his exhaustive explanation Fred Hoffman describes two variations of female surnames endings:

1. - onka, -anka for unmarried woman, -ina for married.

2. (more popular) -ówna; e.g. Niewierówna, for unmarried woman (daughter of Niewiera), -owa , e.g. Niewierowa, for married woman (wife of Niewiera).

Nowadays these two forms, especially the first one, is old-fashioned and rarely used, mainly by older people or "for fun" to tease women (my wife Magda was Zarembianka, daughter of Zaremba) Wink .

However yes, this is very important to be aware of this Polish language nuances while researching your Polish ancestors, especially women.

Henryk wrote:
By the way the site:
http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/
gives only data fot the surname as entered and not for the other gender spelling, contrary to the Rymut site. For example, you must enter both Kowalski and Kowalska to get all the data.

Thank you Henryk, this is valuable hint. By Rymut site do you mean this site: http://herby.com.pl/ Question


If you are still interested complexities of beautiful language of our ancestors click to see previous discussions in our Forum here: http://forum.polishorigins.com/viewtopic.php?t=208 and here: http://forum.polishorigins.com/viewtopic.php?p=153#153 .

And more information about how much names can change can be found here: http://polishorigins.com/document/name_changes and here: http://polishorigins.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=159 .
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BobK
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Post Posted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:42 pm      Post subject:
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Zenon wrote:

If you are still interested complexities of beautiful language of our ancestors click to see previous discussions in our Forum here: http://forum.polishorigins.com/viewtopic.php?t=208 and here: http://forum.polishorigins.com/viewtopic.php?p=153#153 .

And more information about how much names can change can be found here: http://polishorigins.com/document/name_changes and here: http://polishorigins.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=159 .


Zenon, Thanks for those URLs. Reading those helped a lot and should be read by others having problems researching Polish names.
My uncle's surname was Justinowicz, but at his business he was known as Justin.

And your explanation on town name endings. That "ie" at the end of a town name is likely the answer to the "ic" I found, that's more likely an imperfect "ie".

Bob
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Henryk
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:37 pm      Post subject:
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Zenon wrote:
Henryk wrote:
By the way the site:
http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/
gives only data fot the surname as entered and not for the other gender spelling, contrary to the Rymut site. For example, you must enter both Kowalski and Kowalska to get all the data.

Thank you Henryk, this is valuable hint. By Rymut site do you mean this site: http://herby.com.pl/ Question

Fred Hoffman told me about the moikrewni site. Yes, it is the herby site.
Thank you for the further information in the url.
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BobK
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:25 pm      Post subject:
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I've been working with several documents of my German ancestors, many generations were born and lived in Poland. So far all those documents were from 'evangelic' (protestant) church's, written in Polish (early 1800's)

I've had two people tell me that the ending of 'OW', which I find added to surnames, mean that the person named was present to the person documenting the event, marriage or birth. The 'OW' is added on male and female sunames.

I've found much on the 'OWA' ending, but nothing matching just "OW" & matching this "person was present" explanation.

Anyone else know, and hopefully cite the source if available?

Thanks,
Bob K.
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starshadow



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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:50 pm      Post subject:
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I believe "owa" is an ending that signifies a married woman (her married name), while "owna" signifies an unmarried woman (her maiden-name).
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BobK
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:57 pm      Post subject:
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starshadow wrote:
I believe "owa" is an ending that signifies a married woman (her married name), while "owna" signifies an unmarried woman (her maiden-name).


That I knew, and found much on it.. But what I need to know is why "OW" is added to male & female surnames on documents
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starshadow



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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 6:13 pm      Post subject:
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Could it be the genitive plural form? Signifying son "of" or daughter "of"?
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dnowicki
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:02 pm      Post subject:
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Bob,

There a two types of surnames in Polish---adjectival and nominal---in other words some are adjectives and some are nouns. Those which are adjectives are declined with adjectival case endings and those which are nouns are declined using the appropriate noun case endings. The "ow" ending is the genitive plural ending for names which are nouns. The most basic use of the genitive case is to show possession. However, certain prepositions govern the genitive or in other words have to be followed by a word in the genitive case. Often in birth records, for example, a surname with the ending "ow" will follow the preposition "z" ("from" or "of") and will appear after the mother's name, signifying that the surname is her maiden name rather than her husband's surname. Thus a woman Mary who is married to Jan Sobieski, but whose maiden name was Wozniak could appear as Maryanna z Wozniakow Sobieska. Of course, a surname like Sobieski is an adjective and thus can often be found in various documents with the ending "ich" (Sobieskich).

Sorry I can't sight a source for what I've just written since the source is knowledge which comes from over fifty years of dealing with inflected languages (Latin, Greek & Polish) as a student and as a teacher.

The attachment is a very basic and simplified overview of the case endings of Polish nouns and adjectives. Perhaps you may find it of some use.

Dave



Polish Declensions.pdf
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BobK
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:47 pm      Post subject:
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Wow Dave, you speak a language I've never understood -- Grammar. Shocked That was something that helped keep me from a degree.

Seriously though, I think you're saying that my original question, - that I'd been told that the 'ow' ending means "this person is in my presence" is 'sort of' correct.

To make it clearer for us 'grammar' challenged, can you specifically address YOUR thoughts on why both male and female surnames, in a Polish language marriage document, have the 'ow' ending? What is the person writing it saying to those who read that document? (perhaps... they don't know Polish Grammar?!?)

Thanks,
Bob K.
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dnowicki
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Post Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:34 pm      Post subject:
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Bob,

The simplest and least complete and least satisfying answer to why both male and female surnames in a marriage document would end in "ow" is that the surname/surnames are both "noun" surnames (as opposed to "adjective" surnames) and that case ending is required by the rules of Polish grammar. Perhaps the best way to explain the reason the names appear with that ending would be to use one such document as an example---concrete examples usually help to make points of grammar clearer than theoretical explanations. If you would like to post a document as an example, I would be happy to use it to explain why the names are found with that particular ending.

I know very well that the concept of changing endings on nouns and adjectives is something foreign to anyone (myself included at one time) for whom English is the primary language. As a freshman in high school I was taking Latin 1 and for the first three quarters of the year all there was to learning Latin was brute memorization. Then came a moment of enlightenment when the structure of Latin grammar all suddenly made sense---from that point on it was fun and no longer a drag. If anyone would have suggested in the first semester of freshman year that I would actually teach the language, my reaction would have been .."no way!"

Perhaps a short explanation of how inflected languages like Latin and Polish differ structurally from English may help to clarify things a bit. In English we know the function of a word in a sentence by position. In the sentence "The dog bit the boy" we automatically know by the position of the nouns "dog" and "boy" that the dog is doing the biting and the boy is being bitten. If we change the word order to "The boy bit the dog" it is a whole different matter. In an inflected language word order is not as important as the case endings of the nouns. In Polish and in Latin as long as the proper endings are used on the nouns, changes in word order do not change the basic meaning of the sentence, which means that you can change the usual word order of subject, verb, direct object to direct object, subject, verb without changing the meaning of the sentence as long as dog has the Nominative (Subject) case ending and boy has the Accusative (Direct Object) case ending. The meaning remains the same although the emphasis may have changed. One of the few remnants of a declension (the term for changes in endings) in English is found in pronouns. In an inflected language nouns (and pronouns) are made up of two parts---a stem and an ending. If we take the pronoun "he" as an example the stem of the pronoun is "h" and the Nominative (Subject) ending is "e". When we want to show possession with that pronoun we take the stem "h" and add the Genitive (Possessive) ending "is" and end up with "his". When we want to show that the pronoun is on the receiving end of the action of the verb we again take the stem "h" and add the Accusative (Direct Object) ending "im" and end up with "him." Although we normally maintain the usual word order of subject, verb, direct object ("I saw him") we can change that order for example for emphasis to direct object, subject, verb ("Him I saw!") and we still know who is doing the seeing and who is being seen.

Anyway, in Polish the ending on a noun is determined by how the noun is being used in the sentence. In the case of the "ow" ending the "ow" is there because it has to be in order for the meaning of the sentence to be clear. In the abstract, I can't say why exactly but by seeing an example, it may be possible to explain the reason.

Now that I've either clarified or confused matters with the grammar stuff, it is time to get your thoughts.

Dave
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Elzbieta Porteneuve
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Post Posted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:44 am      Post subject:
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Bob,

In Polish you may say "w sobote idziemy do Marcinow" - "next Saturday we will visit Marcin and his wife"; or "co slychac u Romanow" - "how are Roman and his wife doing", Marcin and Roman being a first name.

Some Polish names, but not the ones ending with -ski, can be used with the same "OW". "co slychac u Urbanow" - "how are Urban spouses (or family) doing". That could be used is many German names - "co slychac u Kellerow", "co slychac u Zingow", etc.

One may also say "Anna mieszka u Szylerow" - "Anna stays at Szyler's house".

Do you refer to similar cases?

I am not sure I understand what means "person was present" explanation.

Best,
Elzbieta
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