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Poles in America: How do you pronounce your Polish surname?


Peaches
7 Jan 2016  #61
My Great Grandparents came to America in 1926 from Poland. My surname was changed. My Father said he believed it was Grycelski and now it is Grycel. Can anyone help me with the proper pronunciation or the correct spelling for the original name? None of my relatives are interested in finding out.
dolnoslask
7 Jan 2016  #62
Peaches Hi I am not sure about the exact pronunciation of your grandparents name but i am trying to find out , there is a guy here polonius that will probably sort it faster than me, but i wanted to say that i understand how important this must be to you to understand your heritage , After fifty years of living in a country where no one could pronounce my name suddenly, since my returned to Poland, I no longer have to spell it out anymore. nice that you are trying to learn more about your heritage good luck.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,467
8 Jan 2016  #63
Grycelski

Pronounced: grih-TZEL-ski (the capitalised syllable gets the stress). Grycel would be: GRIH-tzel
Peaches
12 Jan 2016  #64
Thank you so much for all your help.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,467
12 Jan 2016  #65
correct spelling

The spelling is correct. Probably it'd be easier if you just pronocuned it grit-sell.
It appears derived from gryka (buckwhat) and may have been a local dialectal name for a buckwheat loaf, pancakes, porridge, soup or other dish.
WarszawaWilf 1 | 4
14 Feb 2016  #66
Hojnowski, also spelled Choynowski or Chojnowski. Pronounced: hi-NOFF-ski
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,467
14 Feb 2016  #67
Pronounced: hi-NOFF-ski

Wrong! it is hoy-NOFF-ski!
WarszawaWilf 1 | 4
14 Feb 2016  #68
Right, haha my appologies, my cell phone autocorrected to 'hi'
hannahblack26 - | 2
27 Apr 2016  #69
Hello, everyone - I'm new to this site. I've been researching my genealogy for the past two years and have discovered so much information about Polish family I didn't even know I had. (My family didn't speak of their past.)

My last name is very American because my grandfather, who hated his father, changed it from Black (which I use in most Polish-related forums) to [current name] after HIS father changed it from Błachowicz.

My great-grandfather, Karol Błachowicz, came from the village of Krasice, near Katowice, in Śląsk. He was born in 1878 and went to the United States in 1907 to work in the steel mills in Pittsburgh. In American records, his name was spelled variously "Blachowic, Blackowitz, Blachowitz, Blackovitz" etc. He Anglicized his name to Karl Stanley Black eventually.

His American-born children's birth certificates are under "Blackowitz," and his daughter was born Ewa, listed as Eva, and eventually called Caroline (Karolina, presumably) after her father.

For convenience, we use the name he chose, Black, but I try to pronounce it the Polish way even though I sound like a dolt: "Bwah-haw/hoh(?)-veech."

Karol's wife, on the other hand, was named Urszula Gielicz, from Lądek, Słupca County, Greater Poland. She also came over in 1907 and they married in 1909. I recently discovered that her half-brother, Leon, settled first in Pennsylvania and then went to Chicago - his grandson (b 1943) is able to speak decent Polish, and he pronounces the surname "Gyelleech."

In records it's spelled "Galycz," "Gillich," "Gelics," or "Grelicz." My side of the family, because we never knew what her surname looked like (until I found out) and had to rely on phonetics, generally pronounces it as "Gillich."

Interestingly, both Pittsburgh and Chicago have/had a large Polish population (especially between 1870-1920) and our dialects sound kind of similar because of it. I'm trying to at least be able to read Polish, but I stumble over the words - even my relatives in Poland are like, "Yeah, we don't understand our language much either."
Wulkan - | 3,255
27 Apr 2016  #70
It always makes me laugh how they pronounce Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager Lewandowski - Looandawski :-)))))
dmatus3
20 May 2016  #71
MATUSIEWICZ
skuridat 1 | 2
29 May 2016  #72
My great-grand parents last names were Marchiel and Miesojed. We say March-shill and Miss-oh-jed. In Polish its supposed to be something like Mar-hill and and Me-so-yet, right? My grandmother hasnt had a conversation in Polish since her siblings died in the 50s and she had strokes that affected her mouth so i have no idea if what i hear is right.
Wulkan - | 3,255
29 May 2016  #73
In Polish its supposed to be something like Mar-hill and and Me-so-yet, right?

I'm not sure because those are not Polish names, they look jewish to me.
skuridat 1 | 2
29 May 2016  #74
Shrugs. No idea. All the records my friend found for me were in the Catholic Church in Dabrowa Białostocka. And her DNA test showed no Jewish DNA.
Paulina 9 | 1,453
30 May 2016  #75
I'm not sure because those are not Polish names, they look jewish to me.

Every Pole who knows Polish would know how to pronounce those surnames because they're spelled in the Polish way.
Marchiel does look Jewish because of the suffix, but Miesojed seems Russian to me. It reminds me, for example, of the Russian name for the Samoyedic peoples indigenous to Siberia (and a breed of dogs bred by them). I would translate Miesojed as "the one eating meat".

Both surnames are rare, but they can be found in Poland judging by the maps at the moikrewni.pl site.

In Polish its supposed to be something like Mar-hill and and Me-so-yet, right?

Marchiel - pronounce it like you would pronounce names "Gabriel" or "Daniel". If you want to be really accurate then in Polish "a" is pronounced in a bit different way than in English - it's always pronounced like in the sound "ah" ("h" is voiceless here, of course). "Ch" is pronounced as "h", but I see you already know that.

So the surname is pronounced like this: "Mahrhyel".

Miesojed - pronounce the endining of this surname just like it's pronounced in the name of the Russian breed "Samoyed". Normally I would think it should be "Mięsojed" ("mięso" means "meat" in Polish) but I googled the surname and it's always "Miesojed". "E" in Polish is pronounced as in the sound "eh" or, for example, in the word "technology". Both "i" and "j" are pronounced as "y" is in English. "O" like in the words "not", pot", etc. "D" at the end of words can be often heard as "t" and it's natural, but I would say that in this case, taking into account the Russian origin, the "d" at the end should be pronounced more like "d" than "t".

So "Miesojed" is pronounced like this: "Myehsoyehd" (with "h" being voiceless, of course).
Wulkan - | 3,255
30 May 2016  #76
Every Pole who knows Polish would know how to pronounce those surnames because they're spelled in the Polish way.

Not necessarily, I can read any word phonetically in Polish but it doesn't mean it has Polish spelling. I'm sure those two names are pronounced differently in the languages they originate from to what you would read phonetically in Polish.
Paulina 9 | 1,453
30 May 2016  #77
Not necessarily, I can read any word phonetically in Polish but it doesn't mean it has Polish spelling.

But skuridat's great-grand parents' surnames have Polish spelling - this is pretty obvious to me (and I'm born, bred and living in Poland), so it doesn't matter how they were pronounced (or written - Hebrew and Russian have different alphabets than Polish, after all) in their original languages. So, as I wrote, any Pole who knows Polish would know how to pronounce surnames "Marchiel" and "Miesojed" because the spelling of those surnames got "polonized".

Just like every Pole knows how to pronounce names like Gabriel, Daniel, Józef or Dawid or Iwan and Natasza or surnames like Blumsztajn (which is the polonized version of "Blumstein") or Prokofjew - despite their different origin they all have Polish spelling. I think it's pretty straightforward :)
Wulkan - | 3,255
30 May 2016  #78
or written - Hebrew and Russian have different alphabets than Polish, after all

Yes, they also could be from languages written in Latin alphabet.

I have come across surnames in Poland where the pronunciation was not polonized. I know person who has surname "Benoit" but he pronounces it in French "Benuła"

Most likely those names were pronounced phonetically in Polish but I can't be sure.
Paulina 9 | 1,453
30 May 2016  #79
I have come across surnames in Poland where the pronunciation was not polonized.

Yes, there are plenty of not polonized surnames in Poland and there are plenty of polonized ones. For any Polish person born, bred and living in Poland with half a brain it's usually pretty easy to tell them apart. "Benoit" isn't polonized and people who didn't study French probably wouldn't know how to pronounce it but if it was written "Benuła" then it would be polonized and everyone would know how to pronouce it. "Blumstein" isn't polonized but "Blumsztajn" is just like "Marchiel" and "Miesojed" are polonised. I understand that maybe there are some unusual cases in which people may be confused but, as I wrote, "Marchiel" and "Miesojed" are pretty straightforward.

Most likely those names were pronounced phonetically in Polish but I can't be sure.

It doesn't matter how they were pronounced, written or spelled at a given time in history or in whatever place. They're polonized now, they're clearly spelled in the Polish way and skuridat asked how they're pronounced in Polish and not in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian or whichever language. Since those surnames have clearly Polish spelling it's a piece of cake for a native speaker of Polish to pronounce them in Polish, imho.
Cholewinski
30 Jul 2016  #80
Cholewinski
Ha-lo-vin-ski?
Wulkan - | 3,255
30 Jul 2016  #81
Ho-le-vin-ski
Crow 143 | 7,507
30 Jul 2016  #82
Best thing that happened to Poles in America is that they are born as Poles. That is how they immediately, from birth, know that God loves them.

Ho-le-vin-ski

i just now noticed this.

It happened that i cooperated with some work inspector `Levinski`, here in Serbia. He is ethnic Pole. Are these two surnames in connection (originate from each other)?
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,724
30 Jul 2016  #83
`Levinski`

Sounds Jewish to me.....
Crow 143 | 7,507
30 Jul 2016  #84
Jewish? He mentioned only that is he Polish. Proud Polish. His family was during Austro-Hungaria moved from Poland to what was back then Serbian Voivodeship (Serbian Voivodina).
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,467
30 Jul 2016  #85
Grycel

Interestingly, the Grycel surname exists in Poland but the Grycelski one does not. It's source could have been the word gryka (buckwheat) or the first name Grzegorz (Gregory).
pixierayne
9 Sep 2016  #86
how would you say Szewka?

Also, does anyone know was Szewka means? And where it originates? I had a fight with my uncle because he told me is means "case" and my polish professor told me it meant "shoe maker" or "shoe cobbler"
Looker - | 1,008
9 Sep 2016  #87
say Szewka

Maybe something like 'Chevka', where 'Che' is pronounced like in Cher (this singer) name.

means "case"

For me the Szewka surname may come rather from the Polish word "szew" which means the seam, I suppose.
terri 1 | 1,603
9 Sep 2016  #88
Szewka - most likely it is connected with a seamstress/dressmaker, however, it is also likely that this is a name for something like a bag/case. This all depends on the region your uncle came from. Do a bit of digging on the internet. I have come across the word 'necesser' for a formal briefcase, so szewka maybe also a bag to carry.
Amigoat
20 Nov 2016  #89
In my family tree searches in Galicia the name 'Wojciechowski' pops up frequently. The 'cie' part I don't know how to pronounce. Anyone?

Thanks
Ernie
Wulkan - | 3,255
20 Nov 2016  #90
you'll probably never be able to say it


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