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Thread: Signification of ov, ev, sky and in in last names

  1. #1
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    Signification of ov, ev, sky and in in last names

    What is the signification of the differents letters in the russian last names: "ov", "ev", "sky", "in"

    I saw somewhere that "ov" means something like "son of". An "a" would be added for a girl. So the name "Petrov" would means that you're father first name is Petr.
    Petrov for boy
    Petrova for girl
    Am I right?

    Does that means that Kovalev = father first name is Koval?
    Or Tverdovsky = father first name is Tverdov?
    Or Malakhov = father first name is Malakh?

    Another question is why not Petrev or Petrin or Petrsky instead of Petrov?


    These are good questions!
    Thank you!

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    I'm sure the experts will correct me if I'm wrong, so here it goes:
    1. You've got it all backwards; Russians typically have 3 names -- first, patronymic, and family.
    2. First name is self-explanatory: Petr, Ivan, Anna, etc.
    3. Patronymic refers to "paternity", ie the father: thus someone whose name is Petr and whose father is named Ivan is called: Petr Ivanovich; a female, Anna Ivanovna.
    4. Family name is like an English last name -- this is your -ovs, evs, etc.
    Example: Medvedev (literally "bear"); Petr Ivanovich Medvedev or Anna Ivanovna Medvedeva (female -a).
    So a literal translation of this would be Peter, son of Ivan, of the Medveds. Female would be: Anna, daughter of Ivan, of the Medveds.

    I can't remember where I read it, but you can roughly get an idea of the ORIGINAL ethnic origins of a name by the ending of the family; -ski's tend to be Polish/Belarussian/Western Russian; -ev/ovs Russian, -o Ukrainian, -dze/vili Georgian etc. (If someone has more info on this I'd like to know too!).
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    I think originally the ov ending might have been there to point out paternity, but in modern Russian this function is taken over by the patronymic name... This might be especially true for the last names based on the first names such as Ivanov, Petrov, etc. There are however tons of names not based on any first name (many are based on trade, place, birds, animals) and still ending on ov. According to this theory of mine they must have been invented later... But what do I know?

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    Sufficses -ов, -ев don't exactly mean "son of". They mean that smb/smth belongs to smb/smth. Thus Ivanov "belongs" to Ivan (Ivan's family), Гончаров (from "гончар" - potter) "belongs" to potters (like group of people with the same occupation), Полковников (from "полковник" - colonel) could be colonel's son or servant or even neighbour.

    People in Russia began to use last names in 14th century.
    First who had their own last names were princes and boyars. Often their last names came from the names of their domains + suffics -ск (Коломенский, Вяземский).
    In 16th-18th cent. were created last names for noblemen. Some of then are of turkic or other nonrussian origin (ex. Куракин - from turkic word "kuraka" - scraggy or Кирьянов - from tatar first name Кирьян). Others came from russian words (Живаго - from "живой" - alive).
    Most last names for people of the official class (17th-18th cent.) came from names of places where they lived or were born (Ростовцев - from Ростов (city)).
    Peasants had no official (permanent) last names till 19th cent. (some of them till the October revolution (1917)). They created their own last names (they were more like nicknames) from the name of the
    head of family (Иванов, Петров, etc.), or from person's/family occupation (Кузнецов (smith), Плотников/Плотник (Carpenter), etc), or from person's nickname/appearance (Шустров - from шустрый - nimble, Горбатых/Горбатов - from горбатый - humpbacked).

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    I agree, originally it probably was often the case, quite often it was probably derived from nicknames, etc., and in Bulgarian it still denotes the patronymic.
    It can still indicate belonging, "petrova kniga"=petr's book, or "kovalev syn"="a son of a/the smith" (from Ukrainian koval=smith), etc.

    As for why not -in, etc. -- i have really no idea, but for any given noun or name there would be a particular most typical adjectival suffix associated with it, i guess... probably there are some rules, but for me it's just intuitive

    edit: adding an example after looking at your other post.

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    Thank you for your explanation!

    Does everyone in russia use the "son of" or "belong to" rule?
    I mean:
    If your name is Petr Medvedev, will you name your son "Ivan Petrov" and you daughter "Anna Petrova"?
    Or can you just name them "Ivan Medvedev" and "Anna Medvedev", using your own family name as people do here in Canada or in France?

    Does everyone add "a" for a girl, getting a different family name for your daughter than for your son (ex: Ivanov and Ivanova).

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    The always keep the same last name, the middle name changes

    Ivan Petrovich Medvedev
    Anna Petrovna Medvedeva
    Hei, rett norsken min og du er død.
    I am a notourriouse misspeller. Be easy on me.
    Пожалуйста! Исправляйте мои глупые ошибки (но оставьте умные)!
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    Quote Originally Posted by snorkyller
    Does everyone add "a" for a girl, getting a different family name for your daughter than for your son (ex: Ivanov and Ivanova).
    Ethnic Russian names, yes. Others, no.
    Thus you'll find plenty of Ivanovas, Kuznetsovas, and Medvedevas, but names like Chernenko, Tymoshenko, Netrebko, etc. won't change.
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kalinka_vinnie
    The always keep the same last name, the middle name changes

    Ivan Petrovich Medvedev
    Anna Petrovna Medvedeva
    Ok. But the second name is not written if I understand well
    So we would get:
    Ivan Medvedev and Anna Medvedeva

    Except for the names that won't change, as Barmaley said, like: Gonchar for example...

    Thank you!!! I know now why so much russian names has "ov", "ev" or "in" at the end....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by snorkyller
    Quote Originally Posted by kalinka_vinnie
    The always keep the same last name, the middle name changes

    Ivan Petrovich Medvedev
    Anna Petrovna Medvedeva
    Ok. But the second name is not written if I understand well
    So we would get:
    Ivan Medvedev and Anna Medvedeva

    Except for the names that won't change, as Barmaley said, like: Gonchar for example...

    Thank you!!! I know now why so much russian names has "ov", "ev" or "in" at the end....
    Middle names are often written, it depends. And it's polite to address someone with first name and Patronymic.

    Like in schools, kids call their teachers by their first and middle name. Using just the first name would be too informal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TATY
    Using just the first name would be too formal.
    Mmm.. What do you mean?

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    It would be strange or rude in schools.
    «И всё, что сейчас происходит внутре — тоже является частью вселенной».

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    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka
    Quote Originally Posted by TATY
    Using just the first name would be too formal.
    Mmm.. What do you mean?
    It's a typo, I'm sure. INformal is what he meant to say. Would you walk up to your teacher and say "What's up, Anna?" No. You'd say "Hello, Mrs. Smith." It's the same idea in Russian, just expressed in a different way. You'd say "Добрый День Анна Николаевна."
    Заранее благодарю всех за исправление ошибок в моём русском.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barmaley
    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka
    Quote Originally Posted by TATY
    Using just the first name would be too formal.
    Mmm.. What do you mean?
    It's a typo, I'm sure. INformal is what he meant to say. Would you walk up to your teacher and say "What's up, Anna?" No. You'd say "Hello, Mrs. Smith." It's the same idea in Russian, just expressed in a different way. You'd say "Добрый День Анна Николаевна."
    Yep, typo!
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