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Jajesniak
Created by Administrator Account in 1/17/2010 11:44:48 AM

 


...Fred, I read your book with great interest. I thought it was both informative and entertaining as well.

I'm very glad to hear it! As you can imagine, I put a lot of time and effort into it, and it's a great pleasure to hear from folks that my efforts weren't wasted and the book helped them. I particularly love it when folks say, in surprise, "Hey, this is actually funny!" I had to wade through a lot of really DRY stuff when I wrote it, and I just had to throw a little humor in there or I'd have gone nuts.

...I'm interested in knowing more about the name Jajesniak. The family originates from an area located between Kielce and Krakow. In researching the Parish Records for the town, I noticed that many common names began with a J - such as Jadamczyk. I'm wondering if this is a peculiarity to this region of Poland...

The root in this case is almost certainly jaje, "egg." My 8-volume Polish-English dictionary mentions the term jajeśnica, saying it's a dialect form of jajecznica, a food made by spreading beaten eggs on butter or bacon (sounds like a dish my daughter would like!). This shows that the -eśniak ending does not affect the root, to where we have to go searching for some other origin -- the name derives from "egg." It might have been applied originally to a person who was particularly good at fixing this dish, or loved to eat it, or from some other association not so clear. But it was surely a nickname or descriptive name -- and fortunately not nearly as embarrassing as many Polish names!

As of 1990 there were 170 Poles named Jajeśniak, living in the following provinces: Warsaw (2), Biala Podlaska (6), Czestochowa (1), Gdansk (17), Katowice (44), Kielce (51), Krakow (24), Krosno (5), Lodz (2), Olsztyn (1), Opole (3), Poznan (6), Radom (3), Slupsk (3), Szczecin (2). The numbers for Katowice, Kielce, and Krakow provinces tend to go along well with the info you provided on origins.

There definitely are certain regions in Poland where there's a distinct tendency to take an initial A- and put a J- in front of it, as you mentioned with Jadamczyk -- other examples are Jagata from Agata, Jagnieszka/Jachna from Agnieszka, Jalbert from Albert, and so on. But in this particular case that doesn't seem to be a factor. The Ja- is an integral part of the root jaje, "egg," rather than a dialect form. So what you say is right, but is not a factor with this particular name.

... PS - I've always gotten a lot of comments about my family name. From your book, I've been able to determine that it's not too common. We've always figured that the first Piekielny must have been a "hell" of a guy...

Hey, that works for me! And Piekielny is still a long way from being one of the worse names a Pole could get stuck with!

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

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