The BEST Guide to POLAND
Unanswered  |  Archives 
 
 
User: Guest

Home / Life  % width posts: 87

Do Polish names generally have a meaning to them or a particular structure?.


Chleb 1 | 25
12 Apr 2012  #1
Hello everybody! This is my first ever thread, so go easy on me!

Basically, I'm planning on writing a book in years to come and one of the characters happens to have Polish descent. I want to give her a Polish last name but I have no idea! All I need to know is if Polish names generally have a meaning to them or a particular structure. I'll be very grateful for any replies.

That is all!

Do widzenia!!!
pawian 153 | 8,430
12 Apr 2012  #2
Polish last name

Brzęczyszczykiewicz?
noreenb 7 | 557
12 Apr 2012  #3
"Olszewska" was always my favourite surname.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,467
12 Apr 2012  #4
What is the gender and social class of your character?
OP Chleb 1 | 25
12 Apr 2012  #5
Brzęczyszczykiewicz?

Go anything a little bit shorter? :)

"Olszewska" was always my favourite surname.

A lot seem to end in 'ska' or 'ski'. Does the part before that have anything I should know about?
Vincent 9 | 800 Moderator
12 Apr 2012  #6
Hello everybody! This is my first ever thread, so go easy on me!

All I need to know is if Polish names generally have a meaning to them or a particular structure.

I can see that you're a man who doesn't believe in searching the forum for information or gives any thought for a good thread title. There are 93 pages on Polish surnames here
OP Chleb 1 | 25
12 Apr 2012  #7
What is the gender and social class of your character?

Female and middle class

I can see that you're a man who doesn't believe in searching the forum for information or gives any thought for a good thread title. There are 93 pages on Polish surnames here

Yeah, Noobs in forums tend to have a knack at missing things like this. Thankyou, very helpful indeed.
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
12 Apr 2012  #8
Brzęczyszczykiewicz?

Grzegorz? ;)

Female and middle class

End it in SKA. ska is female,ski is male, plus ska/ski can often mean a connection to the landed gentry in the past without being totally upper class.

The British/Polish actress Rula Lenska is of noble stock for instance.
( if you want to know who she is google *rula lenska george galloway cats*)
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,467
12 Apr 2012  #9
isthatu2
Brzęczyszczykiewicz is a joke. There's no such name in Poland. it appeared in the 1970s comedy 'Jak rozpętałem II weojnę światoweą' ('How I unleashed the Second World War').

There's a slew of -ska ending names including Milewska, Sokołowka, Kowalska, Nowacka, Rybińska, Kaczorowska, Olszewska, Staszewska, Mikołajska, Adamska, Wacławska, Piotrowska, Pawłowska, Alska, Romanowska, Kopczyńska, WIśniewska,, Rutkowska, Makowska,, Ostrowska, Witkowska, Kwiatkowska, Lewandowska , Kopińska, Nowińska, Różycka, £azewska, Tarnowska, Rozalska, Zembrzuska, Orłowska, Orlińska and a great many more.
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
13 Apr 2012  #10
Brzęczyszczykiewicz is a joke. There's no such name in Poland. it appeared in the 1970s comedy 'Jak rozpętałem II weojnę światoweą'

In case you hadnt noticed I gave Franek his full name...I kinda knew that lol
Still looking for a version of the DVD with subtitles as some of it is way too fast for me to follow the Polish, I end up with the same facepalm look of confusion as the gestapo guy :)
jon357 64 | 14,382
13 Apr 2012  #11
The British/Polish actress Rula Lenska is of noble stock for instance

Aristocratic even. Not just some nobody describing themselves as 'szlachta' (which does NOT mean nobility, or even gentry). I understand she was a Tarnowska before her marriage.
Des Essientes 7 | 1,292
13 Apr 2012  #12
Not just some nobody describing themselves as 'szlachta' (which does NOT mean nobility, or even gentry).

The szlachta were all nobles. You think they needed alot of land and gold to be considered members of the nobility because you are afflicted by a disgustingly snobbish British perspective. Too bad for you. You just don't understand the meaning of the First Republic's Golden Freedom.
jon357 64 | 14,382
13 Apr 2012  #13
The szlachta were all nobles.

No they weren't. They were between 12 and 18% of the population - too large to be a nobility. They were farmers. Very few could be considered noble in any sense.

Too bad for you. You just don't understand the meaning of the First Republic's Golden Freedom.

Golden Misgovernment and Self-destructive Chaos might be a better description. Read Carlyle on the matter.

Going back to the topic - surnames in Poland don't really give any indication of social status. I know people with illustrious surname's from history who are as rough as a bear's arse and penniless with it and people with the most plebeian sounding names who are perfect gentlemen in every sense.
Alligator - | 261
13 Apr 2012  #14
Not just some nobody describing themselves as 'szlachta' (which does NOT mean nobility, or even gentry)

Szlachta means nobility (not gentry). The difference between Polish and other European nobility is that it was not wealth or lifestyle that constituted nobility, but hereditary juridical status. Nobility belonged to those of "noble birth" that is those whose parents were of the same noble origin (since 1505 at least the father had to be a noble).

Legally in Poland, there was no distinction between higher and lower nobility, the differences lied only in wealth. The system of nobility democracy in I RP equated the rights of all of noble birth.

Polish nobility can't be compared to it's counterparts in other countries. Unlike the Polish nobles they were divided into layers with distinct rights.

Read Carlyle on the matter.

He clearly had no idea about Polish nobility.
Read something else, preferably something written in XX or XXI c.

Golden Misgovernment and Self-destructive Chaos might be a better description

Since second half of XVII c. and because of continuous and destructive wars. In earlier times it worked well.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,725
13 Apr 2012  #15
because you are afflicted by a disgustingly snobbish British perspective.

that's rich coming from an American.
p3undone 8 | 1,135
13 Apr 2012  #16
Rozumiemnic,I would hope your insinuating that all Americans are disgustingly snobbish.
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
13 Apr 2012  #17
The szlachta were all nobles. You think they needed alot of land and gold to be considered members of the nobility because you are afflicted by a disgustingly snobbish British perspective.

Dessi,please dont get yourself suspended again with this irational and ill educated distaste of all things British..
You obviously know far far less on these subjects than you would wish others to think.

Do you seriously think its somehow more *noble* to keep slaves(serfs) in utter poverty,to use them as animals if the *noble* doing this abusing is some semi literate living in a slightly larger wooden shack than his serfs?

For disgusting maybe you should do some research on the percentage of Freemen in the respective countries. Most Polish nobility were no more than Gentlemen Farmers with a documented family history ,Britain had those types too,but they had to pay their workers who had the right to leave whenever they want.

If the word disgusting is being thrown around Id be a bit carefull here Dessi as everyone knows Poland only freed its slaves hundreds of years after most of western Europe.....

Any hoo, OP. Its much like in Britain,where you can get scummy chavs with double barrel names or seriously posh people called Smith. ( Kowalski in Polish ;) )
p3undone 8 | 1,135
13 Apr 2012  #18
I had meant to write not insinuating.
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
13 Apr 2012  #19
That threw me too lol.
Cant say Ive met many Snobbish Americans.
Though the ones I have met like that are world class at it :)
No, America IMHO has been much influenced by real British values of judging someone on deeds and actions rather than percieved status :)
Tourists seem obbsessed with our "Nobility" but we natives could give a fig. Ive worked with with a direct descendant of the Plantagenet Kings ,nobody cares beyond historical curiosity :)
Ironside 47 | 9,574
13 Apr 2012  #20
Do you seriously think its somehow more *noble* to keep slaves(serfs) in utter poverty,to use them as animals if the *noble* doing this abusing is some semi literate living in a slightly larger wooden shack than his serfs?

Gee some more of your ill educated generalization. Sometimes I think that havening some knowledge of a subject is worse than havening no clue. At lest you are aware of your dumb-ass status :)
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,725
13 Apr 2012  #21
Cant say Ive met many Snobbish Americans.
Though the ones I have met like that are world class at it :)

that's what I meant....

Tourists seem obbsessed with our "Nobility"

yeh esp. Americans innit?

It's an interesting thread though. I remember for instance a girl here in UK called 'Balinska' and she did go on about about how her dad had been a 'Count' in Poland.

When you meet very 'normal' people called, say, Seymour or Howard, you wonder who their ancestors were....
not that it's really very important, just interesting.
It must be borne in mind that those who claim to be descended from nobility or whatever don't really have anything to be proud of, just that they had an ancestor who was the King's bumboy.(or something)
jon357 64 | 14,382
13 Apr 2012  #22
Szlachta means nobility

It isn't a perfect analogy - for this reason:

The difference between Polish and other European nobility is that it was not wealth or lifestyle that constituted nobility, but hereditary juridical status. Nobility belonged to those of "noble birth" that is those whose parents were of the same noble origin (since 1505 at least the father had to be a noble).

Even 'gentry' is stretching it - Freemen is a better translation - the ones in the UK had (at the time Poland had its 1st Republic) an analagous legal status to Polish szlachty, were often affluent in relation to their neighbours and during that same period were gentrifying.

Polish nobility can't be compared to it's counterparts in other countries.

Exactly - nobility is the wrong word and the wrong concept.

He clearly had no idea about Polish nobility.
Read something else, preferably something written in XX or XXI c.

Carlyle was pretty definitive, however Norman Davis compares them to a caste rather than a stratum - this is perhaps the best analysis of the situation.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

For disgusting maybe you should do some research on the percentage of Freemen in the respective countries.

This is spot on - the best way to describe them is as Freemen who due to an antiquated system surviving developed entrenched customs and marriage rules - there are interesting parallels with Mauretanian society today.

As far as surnames go, it was possible to join the szlachta - even foreigners could join, like the British Makalski family - the name doesn't necessarily give a clue to origin, nor does the ending -ski imply that the holder's ancestors were Polish Freemen.
OP Chleb 1 | 25
13 Apr 2012  #23
I hate the snobs in England. In the country-side near wear I live, there are loads of them. They all have names such as 'Miles' and 'Beatrice'. Bleughgh
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,725
13 Apr 2012  #24
They all have names such as 'Miles' and 'Beatrice'. Bleughgh

lolzzzz....does Beatrice wear flowery wellies?
jon357 64 | 14,382
13 Apr 2012  #25
They're drying next to the Aga.
Ironside 47 | 9,574
13 Apr 2012  #26
Even 'gentry' is stretching it - Freemen is a better translation.

Freeman had no the same rights. If you have to make ill suited comparisons I can propose more suitable one - by comparing status of the Polish nobles to that of the Roman citizen.
OP Chleb 1 | 25
13 Apr 2012  #27
Okey dokey, thanks everyone!

You can all get a signed copy in 10 years!!!!
Alligator - | 261
13 Apr 2012  #28
Even 'gentry' is stretching it - Freemen is a better translation - the ones in the UK had (at the time Poland had its 1st Republic) an analagous legal status to Polish szlachty, were often affluent in relation to their neighbours and during that same period were gentrifying.

Exactly - nobility is the wrong word and the wrong concept.

You are trying to define Polish nobles by using English definitions and this is wrong approach. In case of Polish nobility you will never get the same or even close result to British, French, Spanish etc. nobility. You can't compare noble classes of those countries and claim which was more "noble". Every country, although they are European, had distinctily different social, political history. What was considered noble in Poland, wasn't necessarily in any other country and vice versa.

Norman Davis compares them to a caste rather than a stratum

If we agree that nobility is a high social class, to which one belonged by virtue of hereditary or honorary rank; possessed privileges and rights not granted to members of other classes in a society, then Polish szlachta and British nobility were the same.

In Poland the wealth of a noble didn't matter. Even if he was poor as peasant, he still had the same privileges and rights as other nobles.

I don't know why Davis is using such silly comparisons,... maybe because British can't get that wealthy doesn't mean noble ;)

Szlachta (nobility:) within it's class was very democratic. The principle of equality within the nobility was almost sacred. And it has been adopted by all Poles. Panowie bracia! :) Many of the principles which governed the Ist Republic of nobility, are also a modern democracy principles.

This is spot on - the best way to describe them is as Freemen who due to an antiquated system surviving developed entrenched customs and marriage rules - there are interesting parallels with Mauretanian society today.

If you will use the definitions used in other countries you will always get the wrong result. With those definition comes theirs original meaning, which is always to some degree different from the thing you want to apply it that comes from another country.

Any comparisons, be it British nobility, gentry, Roman citizen etc will always fail. Szlachta is nobility in Poland, end of story.
jon357 64 | 14,382
13 Apr 2012  #29
You are trying to define Polish nobles by using English definitions and this is wrong approach. In case of Polish nobility you will never get the same or even close result to British, French, Spanish etc. nobility.

This is exactly my point. However the szlachta can't be considered nobility - there were simply too many, and the socio-economic situation in Poland allowed a system to perpetuate over a century after it ended in the UK. That's why I drew an analogy to today's Mauretania - a stratified society with one principle caste who are considered free.

Szlachta (nobility:) within it's class was very democratic. The principle of equality within the nobility was almost sacred

Szlachta weren't nobility - they were Freemen.

Szlachta is nobility in Poland, end of story.

Very far from it. They may have been descended from a nobility (though most weren't) they may have aspired to nobility (though most didn't) they may have drawn a distinction between themselves and their ziemianin neighbour - but to describe them as nobility implies that there was a sense of nobless oblige, a noble code governing behaviour and a socio-economic distinction between themselves and those around them. It's tempting - especially for someone today whose ancesters were szlachta (Freemen) to draw that distinction, however it is essentially imposing a comparison with other cultures who have a genuine nobility and romanticising a past that was far from romantic. Norman Davies describes the situation rather well.
Ironside 47 | 9,574
13 Apr 2012  #30
but to describe them as nobility implies that there was a sense of nobless oblige, a noble code governing behaviour and a socio-economic distinction between themselves and those around them.

Of curse there were all those things. As for noblesse oblige depends what you understand by that, if you give it a classic meaning you should be remained that that concept was born in XIX century.


Home / Life / Do Polish names generally have a meaning to them or a particular structure?.
BoldItalic [quote]
 
To post as Guest, enter a temporary username or login and post as a member.