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Czajka - Grucza
Created by Administrator Account in 12/22/2009 9:55:03 AM


...Would you please tell me about two more Polish surnames? Pretty please?

No need to beg, I enjoy doing this, as long as people are reasonable -- I get upset when someone sends me a list of 12 names and expects complete family histories. But a reasonable request like yours, I'm only too happy to do.

...I would like to know about Grucza and Czajka.

Czajka, according to Polish surname expert Kazimierz Rymut, comes from the term czaja or czajka, "lapwing" (a bird, sort of like a gull), or from the verb root in czajać, "to lie in wait for." I would think Czajkawould usually come from the bird rather than the verb -- there are many popular Polish surnames derived from names of birds. It's tough to say exactly why such a name got started; it was probably a nickname. Perhaps something about a fellow reminded people of a lapwing, or he kept lapwings, or lapwings were common in the area where he lived. This is an extremely common name, as of 1990 there were some 16,245 Czajka's living in Poland; I see no real pattern to the distribution, the most Czajkas live in the provinces with the largest populations, which suggests it is more or less evenly distributed. There are quite a few other popular names from the same root, especially Czajkowski, which is the Polish way of spelling the name of the popular composer Tchaikovsky (he was Russian, but that spelling is German-influenced, I guess because his name became known to Europeans mainly through German conductors and experts on classical music).

Grucza, according to Rymut, can come from gruca, "oats, groats," or from grucza, "bump, swelling." In Polish the c and cz often switch, depending on dialect pronunciations and other factors, so we can't say for sure the name came from the word for "bump" rather than the word for "oats." This name is not so common, as of 1990 there were only 198 Poles named Grucza (as opposed to 3,924 named Gruca!). The distribution by province was: Warsaw (8), Elblag (13), Gdansk (124), Katowice (27), Legnica (2), Slupsk (12), Torun (12), so the Gdansk area is the big one for this name.

Copyright © 1998 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.




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