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Czerner - Tscherner
Created by Administrator Account in 12/23/2009 5:59:09 AM



...If you would please, I would like to know what my Czerner surname means and its possible origin in Polish history. I have heard that it might be related to nobility of the 14th or 15th century in current central Poland...


Czerner is a rather unusual name, because the root czern- or czarn- in Polish (and most other Slavic languages) means "black, dark," but the suffix -er is rare in Polish -- it usually indicates German origin. Hans Bahlow's Deutsches Namenlexikon mentions this name under the German phonetic spelling Tscherner; the tsch in German is pronounced like cz in Polish, like our "ch" in "church." Bahlow says that name indicates place of origin, which makes sense -- in German -er is often added to a place name to indicate "person from, native of," as in Berliner, "native of Berlin," Hamburger "native of Hamburg." Bahlow says Tscherner comes from place names such as Tscherna, Tscherne, Tschirnau, and this is the final piece of the puzzle: those names are German renderings of Polish place names such as Czernow, Czarnow, and so forth. So the name means the family probably came from a place that was ruled by Germans for a long time but originally had a Polish name. Once the Germans had taken over such a place, they would modify the Polish names Czernow, Czarnow, etc. to German forms (Tscherne, Tschirnau) and then the -er suffix could be added. This makes sense, and explains how a Polish root czern- could end up with a German suffix -er.


We would expect such a name to be most common in areas once ruled by Germans but now in either eastern Germany or western Poland. I looked in a source that gives the total number of Polish citizens bearing particular names as of 1990 and tells how many lived in each province of Poland. As of 1990 there were 720 Poles named Czerner, and the overwhelming majority lived in the provinces of Katowice (377) and Opole (289), with a few scattered in other provinces. Katowice and Opole are both in Silesia, the area of southwestern Poland that was long ruled by Germany, so that all fits.


Unfortunately there are a great many towns and villages with names coming from the root czern-, so it's impossible to tell which particular one your family might have been associated with, and my source for the info given above does not provide details such as first names or addresses. So what I've given you is all I have.


I know very little about Polish nobility. When I have questions on the subject, I contact the Polish Nobility Association Foundation and editor of the PNAF's journal White Eagle.


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




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