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Do women in Poland change their surnames to a feminine form of their husbands' surnames?


hellothere
20 Apr 2016 #1
For example, if a Polish woman named Kasia married a British guy named John Adams, would Kasia change her name to Kasia Adam or Kasia Adamska?
jon357 63 | 14,547
20 Apr 2016 #2
Adams. It's a British name which doesn't have -ski on the end.
Atch 17 | 3,057
20 Apr 2016 #3
A Polish woman living in England would just use Adams. If she returned to Poland she'd have to continue to use Adams as that would be her official name on her existing documents eg passport, driving licence. But I don't know what would happen if she wanted to change it to a Policized form when her documents were due for renewal. Because of the weirdness of Polish grammar where peoples' names take grammatical cases in the same way as any other nouns, it is possible to apply those grammatical cases to English surnames and I've seen it done but that's not the same as changing the name itself from an English to a Polish form. Any Polish woman whom I know that married a British or Irish man just uses the same form as her husband.

doesn't have -ski on the end.

That's an excellent point. You can't just choose a random ending for a name. The rules of Polish language have to apply.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,720
20 Apr 2016 #4
Any sensible woman would just keep her own name but that's another story..;)
OP hellothere
20 Apr 2016 #5
In general, do most women in Poland use their husbands' surnames after getting married? Or do they usually keep their own names?
Wulkan - | 3,251
20 Apr 2016 #6
They usually use their husband's surname
terri 1 | 1,665
20 Apr 2016 #7
Sometimes they have double-barrel surnames, their maiden name first then their husbands.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
20 Apr 2016 #8
I know of one Polish professional who retained her family name and simply tacked on her husband's last name, much as we do it here in the States, Zarda-Rodriguez.
Olaf 6 | 956
20 Apr 2016 #9
It's a matter of Polish grammar, nothing unusual. As Polish language is inflective, and all names (where possible) ARE subject to proper inflexion just as other nouns. A name is a noun too. That simple. Kowalski, Kowalska (fem.), Kowalskiemu/Kowalskiej, z Kowalskimi and so on. Foreign names also DO conjugate if possible, no matter what some people are saying. So if you speak in Polish and use e.g. the name Adams you should say: Poszedłem z panem Adamsem do biura. (or z panią Adams because feminine forms are like that).
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
20 Apr 2016 #10
Foreign aka (in an individual personal case) German/German-Jewish surnames ending in "-er", such as "Heller", "Faerber", a married woman bearing such a non-Polish name, might be called "Pani HellerOWA", "FaerberOWA" etc....

Is this basically correct?
OP hellothere
21 Apr 2016 #11
I think that system applies to other countries in eastern europe like slovakia and russia.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
21 Apr 2016 #12
Of this I'm also aware, yes, it certainly does:-)

I was watching an old Czech film from the 60's at our local Slavic film festival, "Obchód na korze" (The Shop on Main Street), with Ida Kamińska.

When a younger man enters the store, upon whose location the plot is based, and doesn't readily see the owner, he calls out "Pani Lautmanova, Pani Lautmanova!"
JanekP
23 Apr 2016 #13
System applies to pretty much all slavic countries, Lithuania and Greece.

Also in many anglophone countries wives change their surname in the husband's one.
kpc21 1 | 763
23 Apr 2016 #14
Foreign aka (in an individual personal case) German/German-Jewish surnames ending in "-er", such as "Heller", "Faerber", a married woman bearing such a non-Polish name, might be called "Pani HellerOWA", "FaerberOWA" etc....

It used to mean "the wife of Mr Heller", regardless of her real surname. And "Hellerówna" - "the daughter of Mr Heller", especially when she is not yet married.

The thing you are writing about from the beginning refers only to the surnames ending with "-ski". Maybe some others as well. Let's say Kowalski. When a woman marries a Kowalski, she will be called Kowalska (unless she decides to stay with her original surname or take a double surname, but the tradition is that the wife takes the husband's surname). But this is exactly the same surname as Kowalski. Just in a different grammatical form. Look at it as at an adjective - because it behaves like an adjective. "Ten mężczyzna jest bardzo ciekawski", but "ta kobieta jest bardzo ciekawska". In the same way it works with surnames. And - it seems, that it works so with all the surnames looking like adjectives.

"Kowalski" and "Kowalska" are exactly the same surname, just in different grammatical forms. Which is sometimes not understood in the countries where in their main languages the adjectives don't change their form depending on the noun gender, and then in the credits of an American movie you can see female names with surnames ending with "-ski". And this looks just wrong. Although I have heard that Polish people living abroad sometimes decide to do so to avoid difficulties with public administration. But it's wrong and I really don't like that.

If, even in Poland, a woman marries a man called, say, Jan Adams, she will be still called Adams. Adams looks in Polish like a noun, not like an adjective. And there is many such surnames in Poland, I would even say most of them work like that. Even the most popular one - Nowak.

When she marries Jan Adamski, then she will be Adamska. Adamski looks like an adjective (even though it's a noun, like each name) and is declined like an adjective. A woman just cannot be called Adamski, she must be called Adamska. And the second most popular one (Kowalski) works in this way, although I would say there is less of them.

If a man is called Kowalski - his wife will be Kowalska. Jan (jaki?) Kowalski
If a man is called Kowal - his wife will be also called Kowal. Jan (kto?) Kowal

What is also interesting. A noun-type name being a male noun (e.g. Nowak or Kowal) is subjected to the declination in case of a man, but not in case of a woman.

M. Jan Nowak
D. Jana Nowaka
C. Janu Nowakowi
B. Jana Nowaka
N. z Janem Nowakiem
Msc. o Janie Nowaku
W. Janie Nowaku!

but:
M. Anna Nowak
D. Anny Nowak
C. Annie Nowak
B. Annę Nowak
N. z Anną Nowak
Msc. o Annie Nowak
W. Anno Nowak!

In case of women only the surnames being female nouns, and, of couse, those of the "-ski" type, will be declined.

In case of men - surnames are declined always. If the surname is a female noun - then it's declined like a feminine noun. After a masculine first name.

M. Jan Pluta
D. Jana Pluty
C. Janu Plucie
B. Jana Plutę
N. z Janem Plutą
Msc. o Janie Plucie
W. Janie Pluto! (about this one I have some doubts, but theoretically it should be so)

The exception was in the surnames of the nobility - the coat of arms names weren't declined, but now it's allowed to decline them as well.

So the old version is:
M. Janusz Korwin-Mikke
D. Janusza Korwin-Mikkego
C. Januszowi Korwin-Mikkemu
B. Janusza Korwin-Mikkego
N. z Januszem Korwin-Mikkem
Msc. o Januszu Korwin-Mikkem
W. Januszu Korwin-Mikke!

There is no much nouns in Polish that end with "e", so their declination is a bit awkward and people tend to avoid it, often leaving the name of this guy undeclined (or decline only the Korwin part, leving Mikke undeclined), but it's an error.

This version is now also allowed:
M. Janusz Korwin-Mikke
D. Janusza Korwina-Mikkego
C. Januszowi Korwinowi-Mikkemu
B. Janusza Korwina-Mikkego
N. z Januszem Korwinem-Mikkem
Msc. o Januszu Korwinie-Mikkem
W. Januszu Korwinie-Mikke!

Apart from surnames, to the nouns ending with "e" belong also geographical names. But the geographical names can end with "e" and look like adjectives. Like the town name Zakopane. What do we do then? IThe declination looks as follows:

M. Zakopane
D. Zakopanego
C. Zakopanemu
B. Zakopane
N. w Zakopanem
Msc. o Zakopanem
W. Zakopane!
The difference between the declination of a noun ending with "e" and of an adjective is only in the Narzędnik and Miejscownik cases - for nouns there is "e" in the suffix, for adjective there is "y" in the suffix.

And still all these refers only to those nouns ending with "e", which really cannot be declined in any different way, I mean, you cannot change the stem of the word. For example Zaosie declines normally:

M. Zaosie
D. Zaosia
C. Zaosiu
B. Zaosie
N. w Zaosiu
Msc. o Zaosiu
W. Zaosiu!

Or some of them behave like a plural noun:
M. Bratoszewice
D. Bratoszewic
C. Bratoszewicom
B. Bratoszewice
N. w Bratoszewicach
Msc. o Bratoszewicach
W. Bratoszewice!
jon357 63 | 14,547
23 Apr 2016 #15
There seems to be some flexibility. A lady I know whose name ends in -wicz (let's call her Bartosiewicz for the purpose of this post) herself uses as far as I know Bartosiewicz, however I've heard others refer to her in a formal context as Bartosiewiczowa.
Wulkan - | 3,251
23 Apr 2016 #16
however I've heard others refer to her in a formal context as Bartosiewiczowa.

change "formal" to "informal" and that would be correct
jon357 63 | 14,547
23 Apr 2016 #17
No, I'm talking about a formal situation where someone reads out a list of attendees and absences plus the minutes of a previous meeting; very cultured people too. And not being flippant about the lady either.
Wulkan - | 3,251
23 Apr 2016 #18
very cultured people too.

Looks like not, that is not what you do formally.
kpc21 1 | 763
23 Apr 2016 #19
The correct form also for a woman is Bartosiewicz, or if she really has surname Bartosiewiczowa, then her husband would be Bartosiewiczowy. But as for me, it looks like someone wanted to have a little bit of fun reading this list. Cultured people also sometimes need fun.
jon357 63 | 14,547
23 Apr 2016 #20
The correct form also for a woman is Bartosiewicz

Indeed.

But as for me, it looks like someone wanted to have a little bit of fun reading this list. Cultured people also sometimes need fun.

This is very possible. A nice lady too.
3A11polusa09
24 Apr 2016 #21
They don't "change" it. It automatically takes on the female form (which usually means that there is an "a" at the end).

If they marry an non-Pole who has a non-Polish last name, usually, the grammatical and societal rules of their husband's culture/country/grammar apply. If a Polish woman were to marry a man whose last name is Adams, her last name would officially be Adams, both in Poland and abroad. I supposed if she really wanted to policies it, she could have it officially changed to "Adamska," but this would mean that her official legal last name would be "Adamska" in countries other than Poland.

If a Polish woman with the last name "Dabrowska" (i.e. the female form of "Dabrowski") were to go to the USA, for example, her legal name would still be Dabrowska. However, there are instances where a Polish citizen is born in another country, and in those cases, the Polish citizen usually retains the male version of the last name, regardless of this person's gender. For example, I am female, but I was born in the US, so my last name ends with "ski" instead of "ska" because the english language does not have male and female forms for last names, and "ski" was entered into my birth certificate and other documents.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
25 Apr 2016 #22
Then how about, for instance, the surname "Nowak"? Should the correct form(s) therefore be?
Pan Nowak
Pani Nowak(-owa if married)
Panna Nowak(-ówna if unmarried)

Very helpful as always, kpc21:-)

Then I should have written "Nowak(-OWSKA)"
:-)
kpc21 1 | 763
25 Apr 2016 #23
Yes. Nowakowa is somwthing with which you can informally call a woman in a talk, especially if you tell some bad things about her. "Ta Nowakowa, to zawsze chodzi w tym ochydnym zielonym swetrze". "That Nowak woman, she always wears this hideous green sweater". Or even neutrally, while you are talking about her and you don't want to be overcultural saying "pani Nowak" - but not if she is listening (and not if some her good friends are). It's not nice with respect to her to call her so. Generally, there are three possibilities:

- pani Nowak - which my sound too cultural in a talk with friends or relatives
- Nowakowa - which is a bit pejorative about her, although in an informal talk where she doesn't listen and she isn't exceptionally important for anyone participating in the conversation, it will be ok

- use her first name - but it doesn't sound good if you don't know her so well to call her with her name

Sometimes none of this possibilities fits well in the situation. And you cannot do much with it, sorry for that - you must choose one of these options or try to avoid telling her name.

The official surname of the woman is, of course, still Nowak. Nowakowa is only an informal way of expressing that you mean a Nowak woman, not a Nowak man.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
25 Apr 2016 #24
Wonderful, kpc21!

Appreciate the infos:-)
Englishman 2 | 278
29 Apr 2016 #25
Any sensible woman would just keep her own name but that's another story..;)

+1. I think it's demeaning that we still have a tradition of women changing their surnames to their husbands' when they marry.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
29 Apr 2016 #26
In some countries, Germany for example, the husband may choose to take his wife's family name IN ADDITION to his own surname, e.g. Arndt Braun marries Annette Mueller, thence becoming "Arndt Braun Mueller":-)

Normally though, this is only done where both of the couple are working professionals.

I know of a woman from Kraków, married to a man with a different family name, yet the woman still identifies herself as "Jola Adamowa", instead of "Jola Adamowa Pocztowska" or even "Jolanta Pocztowska", thus assuming only her husband's surname "Pocztowsky".
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,720
30 Apr 2016 #27
I think it's demeaning that we still have a tradition of women changing their surnames to their husbands' when they marry.

I agree, mind you if my name was Pigg or Smellie or Hoare I might be delighted to change my name...;). Plus it is nice to share a name.
kpc21 1 | 763
1 May 2016 #28
In some countries, Germany for example, the husband may choose to take his wife's family name IN ADDITION to his own surname

In Poland it's also possible and maybe not very popular but some people do so. Then it looks like: Anna Kowalska-Nowak.
It's also possible that the husband takes wife's surname, although I haven't heard about such cases.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
1 May 2016 #29
Probably because Germany has been more socially emancipated than Poland, and for a considerably longer time:-)
Englishman 2 | 278
2 May 2016 #30
I agree, mind you if my name was Pigg or Smellie or Hoare I might be delighted to change my name...;). Plus it is nice to share a name.

True, though it can also work the other way round. I once met a woman called Jenny who was very pleased her Italian boyfriend Roberto Talia wasn't upset she wanted to keep her original surname when they married...


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