Eastern Slavic naming customs

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Eastern Slavic naming customs are the traditional ways of determining a person's name in countries influenced by East Slavic linguistic tradition, mainly Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Kazakhstan.

The standard structure of the full name is the further:

Name Example (Cyrillic typing) Example (Latin typing)
First name (given name) Дмитрий Dmitry
Patronymic Анатольевич Anatolyevich
Family name (surname) Медведев Medvedev

The ordering is not as strict in languages other than Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian.

Given first name

As with most cultures, a person has a given name chosen by the parents. First names in East Slavic languages mostly originate from two sources: Orthodox church tradition (which is itself of Greek origin) and native pre-Christian Slavic lexicons, although some also come from Turkic languages.

Common male first names

Russian variant Ukrainian variant Latin typing transliteration Origin Comments
Иван Іван Ivan Hebrew equivalent to John
Николай Микола Nikolay / Mykola Greek equivalent to Nicholas, meaning "Victory Of The People"
Борис Борис Boris Slavonic (Bulgarian) meaning "Figher"
Владимир Володимир Vladimir / Volodymyr Slavonic meaning "The Lord of the World / Peace"
Пётр Петро Pyotr / Petro Latin equivalent to Peter
Андрей Андрій Andrey / Andriy Greek equivalent to Andrew
Александр Олександр / Олекса Aleksandr / Oleksandr / Olexa Greek equivalent to Alexander. The analogue is Алексей (Alexey)
Дмитрий Дмитро Dmitry / Dmytro Greek meaning "Of Demetra"
Сергей Сергій Sergey / Sergiy Latin -
Леонид Леонід Leonid Greek from Greek "Leonidas"
Виктор Виктор Viktor Latin -
Георгий Георгiй Georgy Greek the analogues are Егор (Yegor), Юрий (Yury)
Павел Павло Pavel / Pavlo Latin equivalent to Paul
Константин Костянтин Konstantin / Kostyantyn Latin equivalent to Constantine
Кирилл Кирило Kirill / Kyrylo Greek equivalent to Cyril
Василий Василь Vasily / Vasyl Greek equivalent to Ваsіl
Poмaн Poмaн Roman Latin -
Владислав Владислав Vladislav Slavonic meaning "The Lord Of The Fame"
Михаил Михайло Mihail / Myhailo Hebrew equivalent to Michael
Игорь Ігор Igor Old Norse derivative from Scandinavian "Ingwar"
Максим Максим Maxim / Maksym Latin meaning "The Greatest"
Тимyр Тимyр Timur Turkic (Tatar) meaning "Iron". Non-slavonic / christian
Руслан Руслан Ruslan Turkic (Tatar) meaning "Lion". Non-slavonic / christian

Common female first names

Russian variant Ukrainian variant Latin typing transliteration Origin Comments
Анна Ганна Anna / Ganna Hebrew equivalent to Anne or Hannah
Елена, Алёна Olena Yelena, Alyona / Olena Greek equivalent to Helen
Наталья Наталія Natal'ya / Nataliya Latin equivalent to Natalie
Ольга Ольга Olga Old Norse derivative from Scandinavian Helga
Александра Олександра Aleksandra / Oleksandra Greek equivalent to Alexandra
Ксения Оксана Kseniya / Oksana Greek in Russian "Oksana" is the separate name of the same origin
Екатерина Катерина Yekaterina / Kateryna Greek equivalent to Catherine
Татьяна Тетяна Tatyana / Tetiana Latin derivative from the latinized name of Sabin king
Светлана Світлана Svetlana / Svitlana Slavonic meaning "The Shining One"
Юлия Юлія Yulia Latin equivalent to Julia or Julie
Вера Віра Vera / Vira Slavonic meaning "Faith". Calque from Greek Πίστη
Надежда Надя Nadezhda / Nadiya Slavonic meaning "Hope". Calque from Greek Ελπίς
Любовь Любов Lyubov' / Lyubov Slavonic meaning "Love". Calque from Greek Ελπίς
София, Софья Софія Sofia, Sofya / Sofia Greek equivalent to Sophia

Diminutive forms

Diminutive forms (e.g. Danny for Daniel in English) exist for almost every popular name. Most names have several diminutive forms. Diminutive forms mainly have either an "a" or "я" ("ya") ending (e.g.: Kseniya — Ksyusha, Anatoliy — Tolya, Yekaterina — Katya, Gennadiy – Gena). The distinguishing feature of diminutive forms of Russian names is the affectionate suffix "-еньк-" ("-yen'k-"), "-ечк-" ("-yechk-") or "-юн-" ("-yun-") (e.g. Kolya — Kolen'ka, Kolyunya, Sasha — Sashen'ka, Anya — Anechka).

Most simple diminutive forms have their colloquial variants, formed either by adding the "-k-" suffix or replacing the "-sha" ending with "-kha" (e.g.: Vanya — Van'ka, Ira — Irka, Misha — Mishka or Mikha, Ksyusha — Ksyushka or Ksyukha). In Russian, such variants are generally perceived as arrogant or slighting, in spite of a wide use among teenagers.

Some common names and their diminutive forms are:

  • Aleksandr (Александр) – Sasha (Саша), Sanya (Саня), Sashok (Сашок), Shura (Шура), Shurik (Шурик), Sashko (Сашко, Ukr.), Sanyok (Санёк), Les/Lesik (Лесь/Лесик, Ukr.)
  • Aleksandra (Александрa) – Sasha (Саша), Shura (Шура), Lesia (Леся, Ukr.)
  • Aleksey (Алексей) – Lyosha (Лёша)
  • Anastasiya (Анастасия) – Asya (Ася), Nastya (Настя), Nastyusha (Настюша)
  • Anatoliy (Анатолий) – Tolya (Толя), Tolik (Толик)
  • Anna (Анна) – Anya (Аня), Anyuta (Анюта)
  • Boris (Борис) – Borya (Боря)
  • Dar'ya (Дарья) – Dasha (Даша)
  • Dmitriy (Дмитрий) – Dima (Дима)
  • Galina (Галина) – Galya (Галя)
  • Gennadiy (Геннадий) – Gena (Гена)
  • Georgiy (Георгий) – Gosha (Гоша), Goga (Гога), Zhora (Жора)
  • Grigoriy (Григорий) – Grisha (Гриша), Hryts (Гриць, Ukr.)
  • Il'ya (Илья) – Ilyusha (Илюша)
  • Irina (Ирина) – Ira (Ира), Irisha (Ириша)
  • Ivan (Иван) – Vanya (Ваня)
  • Konstantin (Константин) – Kostya (Костя), Kostik (Костик)
  • Kseniya (Ксения), Oksana (Оксана) – Ksyusha (Ксюша)
  • Larisa (Лариса) – Lara (Лара)
  • Leonid (Леонид) – Lyonya (Лёня)
  • Lev (Лев) – Lyova (Лёва)
  • Lidiya (Лидия) – Lida (Лида)
  • Lyubov' (Любовь) – Lyuba (Люба)
  • Lyudmila (Людмила) – Lyuda (Люда), Lyusya (Люся), Meela (Мила)
  • Mariya (Мария) – Masha (Маша)
  • Mikhail (Михаил) – Misha (Миша)
  • Nadezhda (Надежда) – Nadya/Nadia (Надя)
  • Natal'ya (Наталья) – Natasha (Наташа), Nata (Ната)
  • Nikolay (Николай) – Kolya (Коля)
  • Ol'ga (Ольга) – Olya (Оля)
  • Pavel (Павел) – Pasha (Паша)
  • Polina (Полина) – Polya (Поля)
  • Pyotr (Пётр) – Petya (Петя)
  • Roman (Роман) – Roma (Рома)
  • Sergey (Сергей) – Seryozha (Серёжа)
  • Sof'ya (Софья) – Sonya (Соня)
  • Svetlana (Светлана) – Sveta (Света)
  • Stanislav (Станислав) – Stas (Стас)
  • Svyatoslav (Святослав) – Svyat (Свят)
  • Tamara (Тамара) – Toma (Тома)
  • Tat'yana (Татьяна) – Tanya (Таня)
  • Valentin/Valentina (Валентин/Валентина) – Valik (Валик)/Valya (Валя)
  • Valeriy (Валерий) – Valera (Валера)
  • Valeriya (Валерия) – Lera (Лера)
  • Vasiliy (Василий) – Vasya (Вася)
  • Viktor (Виктор) – Vitya (Витя)
  • Viktoriya (Виктория) – Vika (Вика)
  • Vladimir (Владимир) – Volodya (Володя), Vova (Вова)
  • Vyacheslav (Вячеслав) – Slava (Слава)
  • Yakov (Яков) – Yasha (Яша)
  • Yelena (Елена) – Lena (Лена)
  • Yelizaveta (Елизавета) – Liza (Лиза), Iveta (Ивета)
  • Yekaterina (Екатерина) – Katya (Катя), Katyusha (Катюша)
  • Yevdokiya (Евдокия) – Dusya (Дуся), Dunia (Дуня)
  • Yevgeniy/Yevgeniya (Евгений/Евгения) – Zhenya (Женя)
  • Yuliya (Юлия) – Yulya (Юля)
  • Yuri (Юрий) – Yura (Юра)

Slang forms

In Russian, the following forms may be used as slang forms:

  • Anatoliy (Анатолий) – Tolyan (Толян)
  • Dmitriy (Дмитрий) – Dimon (Димон)
  • Nikolay (Николай) – Kolyan (Колян)
  • Vladimir (Владимир) – Vovan (Вован)

Patronymic

Everyone in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus is supposed to have three names, the second one being patronymic. The patronymic of a person is based on the first name of the father and is written in all legal and identity documents. Respectively, the meaning of patronymic is "the child of ...". If used with the first name, the patronymic always follows it. The patronymic can be formed accordingly the common linguistic principle:

[ the name of father ] + suffix -ович (-ovich) (-овна, -ovna for females).

For example, if the father's name was Иван (Ivan), then the patronymic will be Иванович (Ivanovich) for a son, and Ивановна (Ivanovna) for a daughter.

The common rule may be complemented with fine points which are to be considered as the exeptions because of the effect of comprehensive East-Slavonic language system:

  • if the suffix is being appended to a name ending in ''й'' ("y") or a soft consonant, the initial o in the suffixes -ович (-ovich) and -овна (-ovna) becomes a е ("ye"), and the suffixes transform themselves into -евич (-yevich) and -евна (-yevna). For example, if the father was Дмитрий (Dmitry), then the patronymic will be Дмитриевич (Dmitrievich) for a son and Дмитриевна (Dmitrievna) for a daughter, but not Дмитрович (Dmitrovich) or Дмитровна(Dmitrovna), because the name Дмитрий (Dmitry) ends on "й" ("y");
  • names ending with -слав (-slav) derive patronyms with suffix -вович (-vovich) to avoid double в ("v") in suffix. For example, if the father was Владислав (Vladislav) then the patronym will be Владиславович (Vladislavovich) for a son, and Владиславовна (Vladislavovna) for a daughter;
  • the patronymic for Илья (Ilya) is always Ильич (Ilyich), not Ильевич (Ilyevi1ch) for a son, and Ильинична (Ilyinichna) for a daughter, because the name Илья (Ilya) is one of the few name which ends with a vowel;
  • the patronymic for Яков (Yakov) is Яковлевич (Yakovlevich, male) or Яковлевна (Yakovlevna, female).
  • in the Ukrainian language the female patronymic is more likely to end with -iвна (-ivna) rather then -евна (-evna).

Patronyms are the old phenomenon in Russian society; the first reference could be found among the charts of the year 945. But patronyms were not of intensive usage until the 19th century. Originally patronyms were the feature of the royal dynasty (Рюриковичи, Ruerikovichi , Rurikids), that makes the Russian patronym in its original meaning being similar to German von. As from the 17th century, the second name with suffix -ович (-ovich) was the privilege given by tsar to commoners. For example, in 1610, tsar Vasili IV gave to the Stroganovs who were merchants the privilege to use patronyms. As the tribute for developing of salt industry in Siberia he let Pyotr Stroganov and all his issue to have and write the name with -ovich. The tsar wrote in the chart dated by May 29, literally: "... to write him with ovich, to try [him] in Moscow only, not to fee [him] by other fees, not to kiss a cross by himself [what means not to swear during any processions]"1 In the 18th century, Stroganovs were the only family of merchants who had patronyms. During the 19th century, patronyms were spread to commoners.

Traditionally, there were no patronymics in Ukrainian names (just the first name was used), partonyms may be considered as a "Russian import" that became common during Soviet rule in Ukraine then.citation needed Likewise there were no patronymics among cossacks.citation needed Hence patronymics can be regarded as purely Russian phenomena.citation needed

Nowadays, an adult person is entitled to legally change their patronymic if necessary2 at any reason, for instance in order to alienate from the biological father (or show respect for the adopted one) as well as to decide the same for their underage child.

When translating Russian-style names into English, the patronymic is not equivalent to an English middle name and follows different abbreviation conventions. The patronymic can be omitted (e.g. Vladimir Putin or V. Putin); both the first name and the patronymic can be written out in full (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin); or both the first name and the patronymic can be abbreviated (V. V. Putin).

The exponential example of comparability of second name with East Slavonic patronym sketches us Tom Clancy in his book called The Hunt for Red October. The character called Sergey Golovko calls his American counterpart, John Patrick Ryan, "Ivan Emmetovich," because his father was Emmet Ryan: as an Irish-American, Ryan had not had a patronymic before

Family name (surname)

Family names, like Путин (Putin), Ельцин (Yel'tsin) or Горбачёв (Gorbachyov), generally function in the same manner that English family names do. They are generally inherited from one's parents. On marriage, women usually adopt the surname of their husband (as with English names), or (very rarely) vice versa; both choices are voluntary. Another uncommon practice for married women is to create a double surname (for example, Mr. Ivanov and Miss Petrova in their marriage may take family names Ivanov-Petrov and Ivanova-Petrova, respectively).

Grammatically, most Russian surnames are possessive adjectives; surname-nouns (Lebed' – literally "the swan") or attributive adjectives (Tolstoy – literally "fat" in an archaic form) are infrequent, and are mainly adopted from other languages. Surnames ending in -ov, -ev, -in are short forms of possessive adjectives; ones ending in -sky are full forms.

The ending -enko is of Ukrainian origin, and used for both genders. The Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko is an example.

As with all Slavic adjectives, family names have different forms depending on gender — for example, the wife of Борис Ельцин (Boris Yel'tsin) is Наина Ельцина (Naina Yel'tsina). Note that this change of grammatical gender is not considered to be changing the name received from a woman's father or husband (compare the equivalent rule in Czech or Polish). The correct transliteration of such feminine names in English is debated: sometimes women's names are given in their original form, sometimes in the masculine form (technically incorrect but now more widely recognized).

Note that only Slavic names (possessive adjectives) are changed this way. Noun-family-names like "Lebed'" and German-style family names like "Feldmann" are not changed based on gender – the feminine form is the same as masculine.

Russian surnames usually end in -ov (-ova for female); -ev (-eva); -in (-ina). Ukrainian surnames generally end with -enko, -ko, -uk, and -ych (these endings do not change based on gender and are not subject to case declension). The ending -skiy or -sky (-skaya) is also common in both Russia and Ukraine.

Adjective-style family names are declined based on the Slavonic case system: nom.masc. "Ivanov" gen.masc. "Ivanova"; gen. fem. "Ivanovoy", etc. Ukrainian-style names ending with "-enko" are never declined in Russian (but declined in Ukrainian – "Yuschenka"=genitive of "Yuschenko", "Timashenku"=accusative of "Timoshenko"). Noun-based names like "Lebed'" and German-style names like "Feldman" are only declined if they belong to a man, but not to a woman, like "Borisu Feldmanu" (to Boris Feldman), but "Tane Feldman" (to Tanya Feldman).

The reason is that the Russian feminine nouns cannot end with an unpalatalized consonant, while masculine nouns can. Thus not only German or noun-based family names, but also foreign given names are declined if they are masculine: "Dzhonu"=genitive of "John", but not declined if they are feminine: the genitive of "Suzan" (Susan) is still "Suzan" while that of "Susanna" is "Suzanne" due to the -a ending being a declinable feminine ending.

The majority of Russian surnames are derived from personal names (Sergeyev — Sergey's son; Vasilyev — Vasiliy's son; etc.). Many surnames originate from names of animals and birds (Lebedev — the possessive of лебедь, "swan"; Korovin — the possessive of корова, "cow"; etc.), which had long ago been used as additional personal names or nicknames. Many other surnames originate in people's professions and crafts (Kuznetsov — Smith's son). In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries -off was a common transliteration of -ov when spelling Russian surnames in foreign languages such as French (e.g., the Smirnoff brand or the Davidoff brand).

Forms of address

The common rules are the further:

  • the full three-name form (for instance, Иван Иванович Петров, Ivan Ivanovich Petrov) is used in official documents only. Everyone in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus is supposed to have three names;
  • the form "first name + patronymic" (for instance, Иван Иванович, Ivan Ivanovich):
    • is the feature of official communication (for instance, students in schools and universities call their teachers in the form of "first name + patronymic" only);
    • may convey the speaker's respect for the recipient. Historically patronymic was the feature of the royal dynasty only (Рюриковичи, Ruerikovichi), that's why traditionally the form "name + patronymic" convey the respect. That custom is remained to some degree (for example, younger people may call older people "first name + patronymic"), but that's not such a persistant nowadays anyway.
  • the surename only (Петров, Petrov) is used in formal communications, but much more rare. There's some trend in informal Russian to call a recipient with his/her surname expressing the irony as well;
  • for informal communication two names are usually omitted and only the first name is used (for instance, Иван, Ivan).

The choice of addressing format is closely linked to the choice of second-person pronoun. Russian language distinguishes between informal ты (ty, "you") and formal вы (vy, "you"), the latter also being the plural of both forms, used to address a pair or group. (Respectful Вы ("Vy", "You") may be capitalized, while plural вы ("vy", "you") is not.) Historically that feature was borrowed from German during the Peter the Great age (the full analogue is German addressing format "du - Sie".) Excluding the usage of patronymics, forms of address in Russian are very similar to the English ones.

Second person forms

Forms used with ty, formalness increasing:3

  • <First name, diminutive form> — very informal. There are wide range of hypocorisms in Russian. As opposed to full and short forms, they are emotional. They can demonstrate a warm and tender attitude towards the addressee, although some diminutive forms can bear slighting or pejorative emotions. The neo-vocative case can be used for certain names and forms. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Ronnie.
  • <First name, full or short form> — the most widely used informal address. Full form is used for some, usually one- or two-syllable, names like Andrey, Gleb, Igor, Oleg, Vera, Inna, Nina; for most names, the short form is used. Colloquial neo-vocative case can be used instead of standard nominative case, but there are names for which it does not exist. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Ron, Ronald.
  • <Patronymic, full or short form> — can be used among close friends (usually older people), shortening of the next form. The diminutive is formed by turning -ovich into -ych for males, and -ovna into -na for females. For example, if Vasiliy Ivanovich Chapayev is a good friend, one can call him just Ivanych (from Ivan[ov]ich). Some patronymics are abbreviated even further: Pavlovich becomes Palych and Aleksandrovich turns into Sanych, while some are never abbreviated, like Petrovich and Ilyich. This form is now considered somewhat old style and used very rare, mostly among elderly people. One widely known example is Lenin, who in Soviet propaganda was often referred to as Ilyich.
  • <First name, full or special short form> <Patronymic, full or short form> (at least one is short). Some names have special short form, used only in this form of address. Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (Александр Александрович) may be called San Sanych (Сан Саныч) and Pavel Pavlovich (Павел Павлович) may be called Pal Palych (Пал Палыч). For example, in the film Chapaev, Vasiliy Ivanovich Chapayev was called by his subordinates Vasiliy Ivanych or Vasil' Ivanych. It is a colloquial variation of formal address with full names, and can be used with either ty or vy. It is also considered old style.
  • <Last name>. It is usually used by the elders when addressing subordinates (for example, teachers addressing students, or sergeant addressing soldiers), while it is not considered very polite, showing that the speaker doesn't bother remembering the first name; rarely used among friends in informal situations (often used in situations like the army barrack, school class or student campus where the people do know the surnames of one another, often hearing them in official situation). Sometimes it can be considered rude or aggressive. In the third person, its usual form in journalism and colloquial speech about someone without family or business relations to the interlocutors but known to them. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Reagan.

Forms used with vy, formality increasing:3

  • <First name, full form> — formal use. This form emerged in the last 20 years due to Western influence; it is now gradually superseding the next one, especially in business practice.4 English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Ronald.
  • <First name, full form> <Patronymic, full form> — formal and respectful, could be used to address an older colleague or a mentor. The most widely used formal address. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Mr. Reagan (not the same in structure, but used in the same situations).
  • <Prefix> <Last name> — highly formal. During the Soviet era, a prefix 'tovarishch' (comrade, gender-neutral when used as a prefix) was universally used; since then it has fallen out of general use. Nowadays, common prefixes are gospodín (господин, Rus.) or pan (пан, Ukr.) for sir, and gospozhá (госпожа, Rus.), or páni (пані, Ukr.) for ma'am. In some situations (e.g. by police officers) grazhdanín/grazhdánka (citizen) has been used since Soviet times, but now it is considered rude by many people (the criminals and inmates were prohibited from using "tovarisch" when addressing the police or correction officers, and vice versa, so this style has a connotation of one being addressed as a jail inmate). Gospodin/gospozha can be used in business conversations, but given the negative connotations these words had in Soviet period (as it means master/mistress or lord/lady), politically neutral <First name> <Patronymic> form is usually preferred.

Third person forms

The third person in speech can be referred to in any form used with the second person, if all the interlocutors know him/her. Naturally, the form used in personal conversation with the mentioned individual person is used; if the interlocutors are in different levels of relations with him/her, they often resort to the most formal name.

Third person only forms, formalness increasing:

  • <First name, short or diminutive form> <Last name> — very informal, used exclusively for children or persons much younger than speaker. Also, modern performers, such as Dima Bilan and Natasha Koroleva, sometimes adopt that form as their stage name. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Ron Reagan.
  • <First name, full form> <Last name> — formal. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Ronald Reagan.
  • <Title> <Last name> — usually used for soldiers, like general Lebed, scientists, like akademik (academician) Pavlov, or, formerly, noblemen, like knyaz (prince) Potemkin. For monarchs, usual title-name-number-nickname was used, like tsar Aleksandr II Osvoboditel (Alexander II the Liberator), sometimes with addition of patronymics after number.
  • <First name> <Patronymic> <Last name> — used either to provide full name of not previously mentioned person (e.g. to introduce him/her to the auditory), or to show very high respect (this is quite rare now even for the President of Russia). English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Ronald Wilson Reagan. Preposition with titles makes it as formal as possible; used in grand ceremonies like state holidays and inaugurations.

Finally, there is the <Last name> <First name> <Patronymic> (or without patronymic) form, which is used for alphabetical sorting purpose or not, in legal and official documents, databases, government paperwork, and the like. Such form is commonly referred to as FIO (short for familiya, imya, otchestvo, i.e. "last name, first name, patronymic"). Although also found in English, this form is much more common in Russia. For example, the Russian Wikipedia uses this form for titles of all articles about persons. English analogue for Ronald Reagan: Reagan, Ronald Wilson.

Adjectives

In Russian, adjectives before name are generally restricted to written forms of communication. Adjectives like lyubimiy/lyubimaya (beloved) and miliy/milaya (sweet or darling) are informal, while uvazhayemiy/uvazhayemaya (respected) is highly formal and is used to prepend <First name> <Patronymic> in formal addresses and personal appeals. Some adjectives, like dorogoy/dorogaya (dear), can be used in both formal and informal letters.

Slavicized names of non-Slavic people

In the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian languages, non-Slavic patronymics and family names may also be changed according to the above-mentioned rules. This is widespread in naming people of ethnic minorities and citizens of Central Asian or Caucasian republics of the former Soviet Union, especially if a person is a permanent resident and speaks the local language. For example, Irina Hakamada, a popular Russian politician whose father was Japanese, has a patronymic "Mutsuovna" (strange-sounding in Russian) since her father's first name was Mutsuo. The ethnicity of origin generally remains recognizable in russified names.5

Bruno Pontecorvo, after he emigrated to the USSR, was known as Бруно Максимович Понтекорво (Bruno Maximovich Pontekorvo) in the Russian scientific community, because his father's given name was Massimo (corresponding to Russian Максим (Maksim)). Pontecorvo's sons have been known by names Джиль Брунович Понтекорво, Антонио Брунович Понтекорво and Тито Брунович Понтекорво (Dzhil/Gil Brunovich, Antonio Brunovich, Tito Brunovich Pontekorvo).

In several Tom Clancy novels, Sergey Nikolayevich Golovko calls his American counterpart, John Patrick Ryan, "Ivan Emmetovich," because his father was Emmet Ryan: as an Irish-American, Ryan had not had a patronymic before.

Such conversion of foreign names is unofficial and optional in many cases of communication and translation.

Foreign name forms

Doubled first names (to a French style) are a very rare foreign-influenced instance. Russian filmmaker Valeriya Gai Germanika was registered at birth as just Valeriya by Soviet authorities but legally demanded her first name to be changed to Valeriya Gai upon reaching adulthood in the new Russia (contrary to the popular view that this is her pseudonym).6 Most doubled first names are spelled with the dash (e.g., Mariya-Tereza).

Exceptions for some post-Soviet countries

In the local languages of the non-Slavic CIS countries, Russian rules for patronymics were either never used or abandoned after gaining independence. Some Turkic languages, however, also use patronimics, formed using the Turkic word meaning 'son' or 'daughter'. For example, Kazakh ұлы (ûlâ; transcribed into English as -ulı, as in Nursultan Äbishulı Nazarbayev) or Azeri oğlu (as in Heydər Əlirza oğlu Əliyev); Kazakh қызы (transcribed into English as -qyzy, as in Dariga Nursultanqyzy Nazarbayeva). Such kinds of patronymic for Turkic peoples were officially allowed in the Soviet times.

Some surnames in those languages have been russified since the 19th century and remain so; e.g. the surname of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has a Russian "-yev" suffix, which literally means "of Nazar-bay" (where "bay" is a Turkic native noble rank – compare Turkish "bey", Uzbek "beg", and Kyrghyz "bek"). This surname russification practice is not common, varying greatly by country.

Some ethnic groups use more than one name, one official, another unofficial. Official names are made with Russian patronymics, unofficial names are noble or tribal names, which were prohibited after the revolution. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some people returned to using these tribal or noble names as surnames (e.g. Sarah Naiman — a Kazakhstan singer, whose surname means that she is from Naimans). Some Muslim people changed their surnames to an Arabic style (e.g. Tungyshbay Zhamankulov — famous Kazakhstan actor who often plays role of Khans in movies, changed his name to Tungyshbay al-Tarazy).

News and other information regarding CIS states is frequently written in Russian (and then translated to English) with names using the Russian patronymics, regardless of the person's preference or common usage.

Early Soviet Union

During the days of revolutionary enthusiasm, as part of the campaign to get rid of bourgeois culture (and, specifically, of religious heritage, manifest in many Russian first names), there was a drive to invent new, revolutionary names. This produced a large number of Soviet people with bizarre names. Commonly the source were initialisms, as "Vil", "Vilen(a)", "Vladlen(a)" and "Vladilen(a)" for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. A common suffix was -or, after the October Revolution (Oktyabr'skaya Revolyutsiya) as seen in "Vilor(a)" or "Melor(a)" (Marx Engels Lenin). Sometimes children were given names after aspects as Barrikada ("barricade") or Revolutsiya ("revolution"). Some of these names have survived into the 21st century.

This tendency was referenced in Polar Star, the second book of the Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith. The character Dynama (from dynamo) was so named by her father to celebrate the 1950s electrification of her native Uzbekistan. By the 1980s, however, this name was colloquially used refer to opportunistic women who cultivated serial lovers for financial gain – a practice utterly alien to the faithfully married and traditionally-minded Dynama of the novel.

A number of books about this tendency mention some other unusual names such as Dazdrapertrak for Da Zdravstvuyet Pervy Traktor ('Hail The First Tractor!'), Dazdraperma Da Zdravstvuyet Pervoye Maya ('Hail May Day!') (May Day – International Workers' Day), Revmir(a), for Revolutsiya Mirovaya ('World Revolution') and Oyushminald, for Otto Yulyevich Shmidt na Ldine" (Otto Schmidt on the ice floe').

Some parents called their children the German female names "Gertrud(a)" (Gertrude), reanalyzing it as "Geroinya Truda" ('Hero of Labour'), "Marlen(a)" (Marlene), reanalyzing it as "Marx and Lenin", or "Sten" (Stan), reanalyzing it as "Stalin and Engels".

A number of Russians with the name "Kim", were not of Korean descent, but rather were named after the "Kommunistichesky International Molodyozhi" ('Youth Communist International').

People with such names usually use the short form of the closest classic Russian name, and represent themselves using it – like "Vlad" for "Vladlen" ("Vladlen" is "Vladimir Lenin", while "Vlad" is also a short form of "Vladislav").

See also

References

Specific references:

  1. ^ «писать его с вичем, судить только в Москве, излишних пошлин с товаров не брать, креста самому не целовать». Собр. Гос. Грам. II, № 196. 
  2. ^ Federal Law of Russian Federations on Acts of Civil Statements, Ch.: 58, 59. 
  3. ^ a b http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RussianNamingConvention
  4. ^ М.А. Кронгауз (March 2001). "Новое в речевом этикете" (in Russian). Русский язык. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  5. ^ Tsarnaev Brothers: The right kind of Caucasian
  6. ^ Трудный мир подростков

Further reading (in Russian)

External links








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