Eastern Slavic naming customs

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An internal passport of a citizen of Russia. The lower page includes the lines: Фамилия ("Family name"), Имя ("Name") and Отчество ("Patronymic").

Eastern Slavic naming customs are the traditional ways of identifying a person by name in countries influenced by East Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian: in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine. They are also used in some countries using South Slavic languages, including Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia, as well as some countries using non-Slavic languages (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) because of the expansion of Russia, with its Russification.

The full name uses the following standard structure:

Name Example (Cyrillic alphabet) Example (Anglicised form)
First name (given name) Илья́ Ilyа́
Patronymic Алекса́ндрович Aleksа́ndrovich
Family name (surname) Ежо́в Yezhо́v

Given names

As in many other cultures, Eastern Slavic parents select a given name for a newborn child. Most first names in East Slavic languages originate from two sources:

Almost all first names are single. Doubled first names (as in, for example, French, like Jean-Luc) are very rare and from foreign influence. Most doubled first names are written with a hyphen: Mariya-Tereza.

Here are common given names:

Males

Russian variant Ukrainian variant Belarusian variant Latin-alphabet transliteration (Russian / Ukrainian / Belarusian) Origin Comments
Ива́н Іва́н Іван, Ян Ivа́n / Jan Hebrew equivalent to John
Никола́й Мико́ла Мікалай, Мікола Nikolа́y / Mykо́la / Mikalaj, Mikola Greek equivalent to Nicholas, meaning "Victory (of the) People"
Бори́с Бори́с Барыс Borís / Borys / Barys (Bulgar) Fighter
Влади́мир Володи́мир Уладзімір Vladímir / Volodymyr / Uladzimir Slavonic meaning "Lord of the World" / "Lord of Peace"
Пётр Петро́ Пётр, Пятро, Пятрусь Pyotr / Petrо́ / Piotr, Piatro, Piatruś Greek equivalent to Peter
Андре́й Андрій Андрэй Andrе́y / Andriy / Andrej Greek equivalent to Andrew
Алекса́ндр Олександр Аляксандр Aleksándr / Oleksandr, Olexa / Aliaksandr Greek equivalent to Alexander
Дми́трий Дмитро Дзмітры, Зміцер Dmítry / Dmytro / Dzmitry, Zmicier Greek meaning "of Demeter"
Серге́й Сергій Сяргей Sergе́y / Serhiy / Siarhej Latin from the Roman nomen (patrician family name) Sergius, itself from a more ancient Etruscan name
Леони́д Леонід Леанід, Лявон Leoníd / Lieanid, Liavon Greek from Greek Leonidas, meaning "Son of the Lion"
Ви́ктор Віктор Віктар Víktor / Viktar Latin meaning "Conqueror"
Гео́ргий Гео́ргiй Георгій Geо́rgy / Hieorhij Greek the analogues are Егор (Yegor), Юрий (Yury), equivalent to George
Па́вел Павло́ Павел, Павал, Паўло Pа́vel / Pavlо́ / Paval, Paŭlo Latin equivalent to Paul
Константи́н Костянти́н Канстанцін, Кастусь Konstantín / Kostyantyn / Kanstancin, Kastuś Latin equivalent to Constantine
Кири́лл Кири́ло Кірыл, Кірыла Kiríll / Kyrylo / Kiryl, Kiryla Greek equivalent to Cyril
Васи́лий Васи́ль Васіль, Базыль Vasíly, Vassili / Vasyl / Vasiĺ, Bazyĺ Greek equivalent to Ваsіl
Poма́н Poма́н Раман Romа́n / Raman Latin -
Владисла́в Владисла́в Уладзіслаў Vladislа́v / Vladyslav / Uladzislaŭ Slavonic meaning "Lord of Fame"
Вячесла́в В'ячесла́в Вячаслаў Vyacheslа́v / Viačaslaŭ Slavonic meaning "Growing Fame"
Михаи́л Миха́йло Міхал, Міхась Mihaíl / Myhа́ilo / Michal, Michaš Hebrew equivalent to Michael
Оле́г Олег Алег Olе́g / Olе́h / Alieh Old Norse derivative from Scandinavian "Helgi"
И́горь Ігор Ігар Ígor / Ihor / Ihar Old Norse derivative from Scandinavian "Ingvar"
Макси́м Макси́м Максім Maxím / Maksym / Maksim Latin meaning "Greatest"

Females

Russian variant Ukrainian variant Belarusian variant Latin-alphabet transliteration
(Russian / Ukrainian / Belarusian)
Origin Comments
Анастаси́я Анастасія Настасся, Наста Anastasía / Anastasíya / Nastassia, Nasta Greek meaning "The Resurrected One"
Áнна Анна / Ганна Ганна Ánna / Hanna Hebrew equivalent to Anne or Hannah
Еле́на, Алёна Oле́нa Алена Yelе́na, Alyо́na / Olе́na / Aliena Greek equivalent to Helen; in Russian Alyona can be both a pet
version of Yelena and a name in its own right
Ната́лья / Наталия Наталя / Ната́лія Наталля Natа́l'ya / Nataliya / Natallia Latin equivalent to Natalie
Óльга Ольга Вольга Ólga / Olha / Voĺha Old Norse derivative from Scandinavian Helga
Алекса́ндра Олекса́ндра Аляксандра Aleksа́ndra / Oleksandra / Aliaksandra Greek equivalent to Alexandra
Ксе́ния, Окса́на Окса́на Ксенія, Аксана Kséniya / Oksа́na / Ksiénija, Aksána Greek in Russian Oksana is a separate name of the same origin
Екатери́на Катери́на Кацярына Yekaterína / Kateryna / Kaciaryna Greek equivalent to Catherine
Татья́на Тетяна Тацяна, Таццяна Tatyána / Tetiana / Taciana, Tacciana Latin derivative from the Latinized name of a Sabine king - see Titus Tatius
Людми́ла Людми́ла Людміла Lyudmíla / Lyudmyla / Ludmila Slavonic meaning "Dear to the People"
Светла́на Світла́на Святлана Svetlа́na / Svitlа́na / Sviatlana Slavonic meaning "The Shining One"
Юлия Юлія Юлія Yúliya / Julija Latin equivalent to Julia or Julie
Ве́ра Віра Вера Vе́ra / Vira / Viera Slavonic meaning "Faith"; a calque of the Greek Πίστη
Наде́жда Надія Надзея Nadе́zhda / Nadiya / Nadzieja Slavonic meaning "Hope"; a calque of the Greek Ελπίς
Любо́вь Любо́в Любоў Lyubо́v' / Lyubо́v / Liuboŭ Slavonic meaning "Love"; a calque of the Greek Αγάπη
Софи́я, Со́фья Софія Соф'я Sofíya, Sо́fya / Sofia / Sofja Greek equivalent to Sophia, meaning "Wisdom".

Forms

Being highly synthetic languages, Eastern Slavic treats personal names as grammatical nouns and apply the same rules of inflection and derivation to them. That means that it is possible to create many forms with different degree of affection and familiarity by adding corresponding suffixes to the special auxiliary stem derived from the original name. The auxiliary stem may be identical to the word stem of the full name (the full name Жанна Zhanna can have the suffixes added directly to the stem Жанн- Zhann- like Жанночка Zhannochka), and most names have the auxiliary stem derived unproductively (the name Михаил Mikhail has the auxiliary stem Миш- Mish-, which produces such name-forms as Миша Misha, Мишенька Mishenka, Мишуня Mishunya etc., not *Михаилушка Mikhailushka).

Unlike English, in which the use of diminutive forms is optional even between close friends, in East Slavonic languages such forms are obligatory in certain contexts because of the strong T–V distinction: the T-form of address usually requires the short form of the counterpart's name. Also, unlike other languages with prominent use of name suffixes, such as Japanese, the use of derived name forms is mostly limited to the T-addressing: there is no way to make the name more formal than the plain unsuffixed full form, and no suffixes can be added to the family name.

Most commonly, Russian philologists distinguish the following forms of given names:

Name form Example Formation Comments
Full Анна Anna full name stem + case ending -
Short Аня (Anya) short name stem + II declension ending most common for informal communication, comparable to Western name-only form of address (Ann, John), or Japanese surname-only, or surname/name -kun
Diminutive Анька (Anka) short name stem + -к- -k- + II declension ending expresses familiarity, may be considered rude when used between people who are not close friends. Comparable to English diminutives (Annie, Willy) or Japanese unsuffixed names
Affective diminutive Анечка (Anyechka) short name stem + -ечк/очк/оньк/усь/юсь/уль/юль- -echk/ochk/on'k/us/yus/ul/yul- + II declension ending most intimate and affectionate form, comparable to German diminutives (Ännchen) or Japanese -chan suffixes

Short forms

Marina Tsvetaeva, a Russian poet. The name "Marina" traditionally has no short form.
Руслан (Ruslan), a character in Alexander Pushkin's poem Ruslan and Ludmila. The short form for Руслан (Ruslan) is Руся (Rusya).
Николай II (Nicholas II), the last Russian emperor. In private communication, his wife called him in the German manner, "Nicky", instead of the East Slavic short variant Коля ("Kolya").

The "short name" (Russian: краткое имя kratkoye imya), historically also "half-name" (Russian: полуимя poluimya), is the simplest and most common name derivative. Bearing no suffix, it is produced suppletively and always has the declension noun ending for both males and females, thus making short forms of certain unisex names indistinguishable: for example, Sasha (Russian: Саша) is the short name for both the masculine name Aleksandr (Alexander) and the feminine form Aleksandra (Alexandra).

Some names, such as Zhanna (Jeana) and Mark have no short forms, and others may have two (or more) different forms. In the latter case, one form is usually more informal than the other.

Full name (Cyrillic script) Full name (Latin script) Short forms (Cyrillic) Short forms (Latin)
Александр Aleksandr (m) Саша, Саня, Шура, Сашко (укр.), Лесь (укр.) Sasha, Sanya, Shura, Sashko (ukr.), Les' (ukr.)
Александра Aleksandra (f) Саша, Шура, Леся (укр.) Sasha, Shura, Lesya (ukr.)
Алексей Aleksey (m) Алёша, Лёша Alyosha, Lyosha
Анастасия Anastasia (f) Настя, Стася (редко) Nastya, Stasya (rare)
Анатолий Anatoly (m) Толя Tolya
Анна Anna (f) Аня, Анюта, Нюта, Нюша Anya, Anyuta, Nyuta, Nyusha
Борис Boris (m) Боря Borya
Дарья Darya (f) Даша Dasha
Дмитрий Dmitry (m) Дима, Митя Dima, Mitya
Галина Galina (f) Галя Galya
Геннадий Gennady (m) Гена Gena
Георгий Georgy (m) Гоша, Жора Gosha, Zhora
Григорий Grigory (m) Гриша, Гриць (укр.) Grisha, Gritz (ukr.)
Евгений, Евгения Yevgeniy (m), Yevgenia (f) Женя Zhenya
Иван Ivan (m) Ваня Vanya
Ирина Irina (f) Ира Ira
Константин Konstantin (m) Костя Kostya
Ксения Ksenya (f) Ксюша Ksyusha
Лариса Larisa (f) Лара, Лёля (редко) Lara, Lyolya (rare)
Леонид Leonid (m) Лёня Lyonya
Лев Lev (m) Лёва Lyova
Лидия Lidiya (f) Лида Lida
Любовь Lyubov' (f) Люба Lyuba
Людмила Lyudmila (f) Люда, Люся, Мила (редко) Lyuda, Lyusya, Meela (rare)
Мария Mariya (f) Маша, Марічка (укр.) Masha, Marichka (ukr.)
Михаил Mihail (m) Миша Misha
Надежда Nadezhda (f) Надя Nadya
Наталья Natalya (f) Наташа Natasha
Николай Nikolay (m) Коля Kolya
Ольга Olga (f) Оля Olya
Павел Pavel (m) Паша, Павлик Pasha, Pavlik
Полина Polina (f) Поля, Лина (редко) Polya, Lina (rare)
Пётр Pyotr (m) Петя Petya
Роман Roman (m) Рома Roma
Сергей Sergey (m) Серёжа Seryozha
София Sofia, Sofya (f) Соня, Софа Sonya, Sofa
Светлана Svetlana (f) Света Sveta
Станислав Stanislav (m) Стас Stas
Тамара Tamara (f) Тома Toma
Татьяна Tatyana (f) Таня Tanya
Валентин / Валентина Valentin (m) / Valentina (f) Валя Valya
Валерий Valery (m) Валера Valera
Валерия Valeriya (f) Лера Lera
Василий Vasily (m) Вася Vasya
Виктор Viktor (m) Витя Vitya
Виктория Viktoriya (f) Вика Vika
Владимир Vladimir (m) Вова, Володя Vova, Volodya
Владислав, Владислава Vladislav (m), Vladislava (f) Влад, Влада Vlad, Vlada
Вячеслав Vyacheslav (m) Слава Slava
Елена Yelena (f) Лена, Алёна Lena, Alyona
Елизавета Yelizaveta (f) Лиза Liza
Екатерина Yekaterina (f) Катя Katya
Евгений / Евгения Evgeniy (m) / Evgeniya (f) Женя Zhenya
Юлия Yuliya (f) Юля Yulya
Юрий Yury (m) Юра Yura

Diminutive forms

Veruschka, a German model, actress and artist. The name "Vera" is Slavic and literally means "Faith". "Veruschka" is one of the typical diminutive variants for the name.

Diminutive forms are produced from the "short name" by means of various suffixes. Unlike the full name, a diminutive name carries a particular emotional attitude and may be unacceptable in certain contexts. Depending on the nature of the attitude, nameforms can be subdivided in three broad groups: affectionate, familiar and slang.

Affectionate diminutive

Typically formed by suffixes -еньк- (-yenk-), -оньк- (-onk-), -ечк- (-yechk-), -ушк (-ushk), as illustrated by the examples below. It generally emphasises tender, affectionate attitude and is roughly analogous to German suffixes -chen, -lein, Japanese -chan and -tan and affectionate name-derived nicknames in other languages. It is often used to address children or intimate friends.

Within a more official context, this form may be combined with the honorific plural to address a younger female colleague.[citation needed]

Full form of first name (Cyrillic) Full form of first name (Latin) Short form (Cyrillic) Short form (Latin) Diminutive form (Cyrillic) Diminutive form (Latin)
Анна Anna Аня Anya Анечка Anyechka
Виктор Viktor Витя Vitya Витенька Vitenʲka
Дмитрий Dmitry Дима Dima Димочка Dimochka
Ольга Olga Оля Olya Оленька Olyenka
Степан Stepan Стёпа Styopa Стёпочка Styopochka
Colloquial diminutives
In the Soviet movie Чапаев ("Chapaev") Анка-Пулемётчица (Anka the Machine Gunner) is depicted as a bold, active and resolute girl who takes part in the Russian Civil War, shoulder-to-shoulder with her male comrades-in-arms. In this case, Анка (Anka) is vernacular variant of the name Anna to emphasise "being one of the guys".

Colloquial diminutives are derived from short names by the -к- ("-k-") suffix. Expressing a highly familiar attitude, the use may be considered rude or even pejorative outside a friendly context.

Full form of first name (Cyrillic) Full form of first name (Latin) Short form (Cyrillic) Short form (Latin) Colloquial diminutive form (Cyrillic) Colloquial diminutive form (Latin)
Анна Anna Аня Anya Анька Anʲka
Виктор Viktor Витя Vitya Витька Vitʲka
Дмитрий Dmitry Дима Dima Димка Dimka
Ольга Olga Оля Olya Олька Olʲka
Степан Stepan Стёпа Styopa Стёпка Styopka
Slang forms
Колян (Kolyan), a character in the sitcom Реальные пацаны (Realʲeniye patsany, The Real Guys). Kolyan shows to viewers the ridiculous sides of gopniks, a special social class of Russian society, which has some common features with London Cockney in their social life.

Slang forms exist for male names and, since a few decades ago, female names. by being produced with the suffixes -ян (-yan), -он (-on), and -ок/ёк (-ok/yok). The suffixes give off the sense of "male brotherhood" that was once expressed by patronymic-only form of address in Soviet Union. Originating in criminal communities[citation needed], such forms came into wide usage in Russia in the 1990s.

Full form of first name (Cyrillic) Full form of first name (Latin) Short form (Cyrillic) Short form (Latin) Slang form (Cyrillic) Slang form (Latin)
Анатолий Anatoly Толя Tolya Толян Tolyan
Николай Nikolay Коля Kolya Колян Kolyan
Дмитрий Dmitry Дима Dima Димон Dimon
Владимир Vladimir Вова Vova Вован Vovan
Александр Alexander Саша Sasha Санёк Sanyok
Татьяна Tatiana Таня Tanya Танюха Tanyukha

Early Soviet Union

During the days of the October Revolution, as part of the campaign to rid Russia of bourgeois culture, there was a drive to invent new, revolutionary names[citation needed]. As a result, many Soviet children were given unusual or atypical names[citation needed], often being initialisms.

Ksenya Kimovna Borodina, the TV presenter of reality show Dom-2. Her patronymic, "Kimovna", refers to the name of her father, "Kim", which is atypical for East European languages and is the initialism from the phrase Коммунистический интернационал молодёжи (Kommunistichesky Internatsional Molodyozhi, "Youth Communist International").
Name (Cyrillic) Name (Latin) Origin Comments
Вил, Вилен, Владлен, Владлена Vil, Vilen, Vladlen (m) / Vladlene (f) Владимир Ильич Ленин (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin) -
Мэл(c) Mel(s) Маркс, Энгельс, Ленин Сталин) (Marx, Engels, Lenin (and Stalin)) -
Баррикада Barricade - Refers to the revolutionary activity
Ревмир, Ревмира Revmir (m) / Revmira (f) Революция мира (Revolyutsiya mira) Means "The revolution of the World"
Гертруда Gertrude Герой труда (Geroy truda) Means "The Hero of Labour"
Марлен Marlene Маркс и Ленин (Marx and Lenin) -
Стэн Stan Сталин и Энгельс (Stalin and Engels) -
Ким Kim Коммунистический интернационал молодёжи (Kommunistichesky Internatsional Molodyozhi) Youth Communist International

Patronymics

The patronymic name is based on the first name of the father and is written in all legal and identity documents. If used with the first name, the patronymic always follows it.

Derivation

The signature of the Great Prince Dmitry Donskoy: "by Great Prince Dmitry Ivanovich".

The patronymic is formed by a combination of the father's name and suffixes. The suffix is -ович (-ovich) for a son, -овна (-ovna) - for a daughter. For example, if the father's name was Иван (Ivan), the patronymic will be Иванович (Ivanovich) for a son and Ивановна (Ivanovna) for a daughter. The standard rules for the suffix have some exceptions like the following:

  • If the suffix is being appended to a name ending in a й ("y") or a soft consonant, the initial o in the suffixes -ович (-ovich) and -овна (-ovna) becomes a е ("ye") and the suffixes change to -евич (-yevich) and -евна (-yevna). For example, if the father is Дмитрий (Dmitry), the patronymic is Дмитриевич (Dmitrievich) for a son and Дмитриевна (Dmitrievna) for a daughter. It is not Дмитрович (Dmitrovich) or Дмитровна (Dmitrovna) because the name Дмитрий (Dmitry) ends on "й" ("y");
  • For some names ending in a vowel, the suffix is -ич (-ich) for a son and -ична (-ichna) or -инична (-inichna) for a daughter;
  • The patronymic for Яков (Yakov) is Яковлевич (Yakovlevich, male) or Яковлевна (Yakovlevna, female).
  • In Ukrainian, the female patronymic is more likely to end with -iвна (-ivna) rather than -евна (-evna).
Father's name (Cyrillic) Father's name (Latin) Patronym for son (Cyrillic) Patronym for son (Latin) Patronym for daughter (Cyrillic) Patronym for daughter (Latin)
Анатолий Anatoly Анатольевич Anatolyevich Анатольевна Anatolyevna
Иван Ivan Иванович Ivanovich Ивановна Ivanovna
Владимир Vladimir Владимирович Vladimirovich Владимировна Vladimirovna
Дмитрий Dmitry Дмитриевич Dmitriyevich Дмитриевна Dmitriyevna
Николай Nikolay Николаевич Nikolayevich Николаевна Nikolayevna
Яков Yakov Яковлевич Yakovlevich Яковлевна Yakovlevna
Лев Lev Львович Lʲvovich Львовна Lʲvovna
Илья Ilya Ильич Ilyich Ильинична Ilyinichna
Савва Savva Саввич Savvich Саввична Savvichna
Владислав Vladislav Владиславович Vladislavovich Владиславовна Vladislavovna
Олег Oleg Олегович Olegovich Олеговна Olegovna
Константин Constantin Константинович Constantinovich Константиновна Constantinovna

Historical grounds

The name Rurik on a Viking Age runestone. All the kings of Kievan Rus had the patronymic Ruerikovichi.

Historical Russian naming conventions did not include surnames. A person's name had the father's name: Иван Петров сын (Ivan, son of Peter). That is the origin of most Russian -ov surnames.

Modern -ovich- patronyms were originally a feature of the royal dynasty (Рюриковичи, Ruerikovichi, Rurikids), which makes the Russian patronym in its original meaning being similar to German von. 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 a tribute for developing the salt industry in Siberia, Pyotr Stroganov and all his issue were allowed to have a name with -ovich. The tsar wrote in the chart dated on May 29, "... 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 [which means not to swear during any processions]"[1] In the 18th century, it was the family of merchants to have patronyms. By the 19th century, the -ovich form eventually became the default form of a patronymic.

Legal basis

Everyone in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is supposed to have a tripartite name. Single mothers may give their children any patronym and does not have any legal consequences. Foreigners who adopt Russian citizenship are exempted from having a patronym. Now, an adult person is entitled to change patronyms if necessary[2] such as to alienate from the biological father (or show respect for the adopted one) as well as to decide the same for an underage child.

Family names

Family names are generally used like in English.

Derivation and meaning

Eastern Slavic languages, being synthetic languages, use special linguistic tools to form a family name. In Russian, the most common suffixes are -ов (-ov), -ев (-yev) or -ский (-sky), meaning "belonging to". For example, Медведев (Medvedev) implies belonging to a bear, and Разумовский (Razumovsky) implies belonging to the mind.

In the 19th and the early 20th centuries, -off was a common transliteration of -ov for Russian family names in foreign languages such as French (like for the Smirnoff and the Davidoff brands).

Ukrainian and Belarusian use the suffixes -ко (-ko), -ук (-uk), and -ич (-ych). For example, the family name Писаренко (Pisarenko) is derived from the word for a scribe, and Ковальчук (Kovalchuk) refers to a smith. Some family names have no suffix, e.g. Lebed, meaning swan, and Zhuk, meaning beetle.

Double-barrelled family names like Иванов-Петров (Ivanov-Petrov) are rare but allowed.

Grammar

The Coat of Arms of the Романовы (Romanovs), the last Russian royal dynasty. The family name Романов (Romanov) means belonging to Roman (name).

Eastern Slavic languages are synthetic languages and have grammatical cases and grammatical gender. Unlike analytic languages like English, which use prepositions ("to", "at", "on" etc.) to show the links and relations between words in a sentence, Eastern Slavic suffixes are used much more broadly than prepositions. Words need the help of some suffix to integrate them into the sentence and to build a grammatically-correct sentence. That includes names, unlike in German. Family names are declined based on the Slavic case system.

As with Slavic adjectives, family names have different forms depending on gender. For example, the wife of Борис Ельцин (Boris Yel'tsin) was Наина Ельцина (Naina Yel'tsina). Only family names with neutral grammatical gender stay the same (like those ending with -енко (-yenko)).

That change of grammatical gender is not considered to be changing the name that comes from a woman's father or husband (compare the equivalent rule in Polish, for example). The correct transliteration of such feminine names in English is debated: the names technically should be in their original form, but they sometimes appear in the masculine form.

The example of Иванов (Ivanov), a family name, will be used:

Grammar case Example of question Masculine form (Cyrillic) Masculine form (Latin) Feminine form (Cyrillic) Feminine form (Latin)
Nominative Who? Иванов Ivanov Иванова Ivanova
Genitive [to bear] Whom? Иванова Ivanova Ивановой Ivanovoy
Dative To whom? Иванову Ivanovu Ивановой Ivanovoy
Accusative Whom? Иванова Ivanova Иванову Ivanovu
Instrumental By whom? Ивановым Ivanovym Ивановой Ivanovoy
Locative (Prepositional) About whom? Иванове Ivanove Ивановой Ivanovoy

Family names are generally inherited from one's parents. As in English, on marriage, women usually adopt the family name of the husband, as in English, or vice versa very rarely occurs. Rarely, both spouses keep their family name.

Anglicisation

Joseph Stalin with his daughter Svetlana. After she moved to the United States, she simplified her name to "Lana", which sounds like other American names. "Lana" is not a frequent short form for the name "Svetlana" in Eastern Europe, which usually uses "Sveta".

When names are written in English, the patronymic is not equivalent to an English middle name. When the name is written in English, the patronymic may be omitted with the given name written out in full or abbreviated (Vladimir Putin or V. Putin), both the first name and the patronymic may be written out in full (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin), both the first name and the patronymic may be abbreviated (V. V. Putin) or the first name may be written out in full with the patronymic abbreviated (Vladimir V. Putin).

Slavicisation of foreign names

By law, foreign persons who adopt Russian citizenship are allowed to have no patronymic.[3] Some adopt non-Slavonic patronymics as well. For example, the Russian politician Irina Hakamada's patronym is Муцуовна (Mutsuovna) because her Japanese father's given name was Mutsuo. The ethnicity of origin generally remains recognisable in Russified names.

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

Such conversion of foreign names is unofficial and often optional.

Some Turkic languages also use patronymics with the Turkic word meaning 'son' or 'daughter'. The languages were official in the countries in the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.

For example, Kazakh ұлы (ûlı; transcribed into English as -ulı, as in Nursultan Äbishulı Nazarbayev) or Azeri оглы/оғлу (oğlu) (as in Heydər Əlirza oğlu Əliyev); Kazakh қызы (transcribed into English as -qyzy, as in Dariga Nursultanqyzy Nazarbayeva). Such Turkuc patronymics were officially allowed in the Soviet Union.

Some surnames in those languages have been Russifiec since the 19th century: the surname of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has a Russian "-yev" suffix, which literally means "of Nazar-bay" (in which "bay" is a Turkic native noble rank: compare Turkish "bey", Uzbek "beg", and Kyrghyz "bek"). The frequence if such Russification varying greatly by country.

Some ethnic groups use more than one name: one official, another unofficial. Official names have Russian patronymics, and unofficial names are noble or tribal names, which were prohibited after the Russian Revolution. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some people returned to using these tribal or noble names as surnames (Sarah Naiman, a Kazakh singer, has a surname means that she is from Naimans). Some Muslim people changed their surnames to Arabic style (Tungyshbay Zhamankulov, a famous Kazakh actor who often plays role of khans in films, changed his name to Tungyshbay al-Tarazy).

Forms of address

Common rules

  • The full three-name form (for instance, Иван Иванович Петров Ivan Ivanovich Petrov) is used mostly for official documents. Everyone in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus is supposed to have three names. This form is also used on some very formal occasions and for introducing oneself to a person who is likely to write down the full name, like a police officer. Then, the family name is often placed first (Петров Иван Иванович, Petrov Ivan Ivanovich).
  • 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, patronymics were reserved for the royal dynasty (Рюриковичи, Ruerikovichi)
  • The family name alone (Петров, Petrov) is used, much more rarely, in formal communications. It is commonly used by school teachers to address their students. Informally, Russians are starting to call people by their surnames alone for irony.
  • For informal communication, only the first name is used: Иван Ivan. Even more informally, diminutives (several can be formed from one name) are often used.
  • In rural areas, the patronymic name alone ('Петрович Petrovich, Ивановна Ivanovna) is used by old people among themselves, but young people sometimes use the form for irony. Also, younger people can use the form for much older people for both respect and informality. For example, a much younger man with a very good relationship with his elder colleague may use a patronymic and the "ty" form, but using first name alone is generally inappropriate. Using a diminutive (like in most informal communication) would nearly always be very impolite.

The choice of addressing format is closely linked to the choice of second-person pronoun. Russian language distinguishes:

  • informal ты (ty, "you", "thou" in old English);
  • formal вы (vy, "you"); respectful Вы ("Vy", "You") may be capitalized, but plural вы ("vy", "you") is not.

Вы ("Vy") is the plural of both forms to address a pair or group. Historically, it comes from German, under Peter the Great, which uses "du and Sie" similarly.

Other than the use of patronymics, Russian forms of address in Russian are very similar to English ones.

Also, the meaning of form of address strongly depends on the choice of a V-T form:

Vy or ty Form Male example Female example Use
Using "Vy" Full three-name form Anatoliy Pavlovich Ivanov Varvara Mikhailovna Kuznetsova Official documents, very formal occasions (when necessary)
First name + patronymic Anatoliy Pavlovich Varvara Mikhailovna General formal or respectful form
Surname Ivanov Kuznetsova Formal. Often used by a person of a higher social position (like a teacher talking to a student)
Informal first name + informal patronymic Tol' Palych Varvara Mikhalna Respectful but less formal
Full first name Anatoliy Varvara
Diminutive first name Tolya Varya Friendly but still somewhat formal
Affectionate first name Varechka Used almost exclusively towards women, showing fondness but still keeping some formality (like to a younger colleague)
Using "Ty" First name + patronymic Anatoliy Pavlovich Varvara Mikhailovna Can used between friends on semi-formal occasions or ironically
Informal patronymic Palych Mikhalna Combining familiarity and respect
Surname Ivanov Kuznetsova Similar in use to a "vy" form but less formal
Full first name Anatoliy Varvara Friendly but with a tone of formality. If the name has no diminutive form (Yegor), also used informally
Diminutive first name Tolia Varya General informal form
Colloquial first name Tolik Var'ka Very familiar form
Slang first name Tolyan Varyukha
Affectionate first name Tolen'ka Varechka Tender, affectionate form

Using a "ty" form with a person who dislikes it or on inappropriate occasions can be an insult, especially the surname alone.

Adjectives

Other Eastern Slavic languages use the same adjectives of their literal translation if they differ from Russian analogue. All Eastern Slavic languages are synthetic languages and grammatical genders are used,. Thus, the suffix of an adjective changes with the sex of the recipient.

In Russian, adjectives before names are generally restricted to written forms of communication. Adjectives like Любимый / Любимая (lyubimiy / lyubimaya, "beloved") and Милый / Милая (miliy / milaya, "sweetheart") are informal, and Уважаемый / Уважаемая (uvazhayemiy / uvazhayemaya, literally "respected") is highly formal. Some adjectives, like Дорогой / Дорогая (dorogoy / dorogaya, "dear"), can be used in both formal and informal letters.

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 the Russian Federation on Acts of Civil Statements, Clauses: 58, 59. 
  3. ^ Family Code of the Russian Federation, Article 58.2 "A child's patronym is formed from the father's [first] name unless otherwise [decreed by] national custom". 

External links

In Russian

  • Балановская Е. В., Соловьева Д. С., Балановский О. П. и др. «Фамильные портреты» пяти русских регионов[permanent dead link] / Медицинская генетика. 2005.№ 1. С. 2–10.
  • Таблицы и рисунки к статье «Фамильные портреты» пяти русских регионов[permanent dead link]
  • Подробный популярный пересказ Report in the journal «Химия и жизнь»
  • Article in «Коммерсантъ ВЛАСТЬ» № 38 от 26 сентября 2005 г. и реакция на нее авторов работы.
    • Article in «Коммерсантъ ВЛАСТЬ»"Лицо русской национальности". 38 (641) (Власть ed.). 2005: 54–60. 
    • Commentaries
      • Комментарии Е. В. Балановской, руководителя работы.
      • Комментарии в.н.с. лаборатории популяционной генетики человека МГНЦ РАМН Олега Балановского.
      • Комментарии н.с. лаборатории популяционной генетики человека МГНЦ РАМН Андрея Пшеничного.

In English

  • Paul Goldschmidt's Dictionary of Russian Names; discussion of patronymics; also interesting historical exceptions to the current pattern
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