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Huratiak - Kuziak
Created by Administrator Account in 10/18/2009 8:01:10 AM


... I received your book on Friday and I am very happy with it. Of course I haven't had time to read it yet. Of course I immediately looked up my surnames and found the root for both names. Now come the questions.

... 1) The original Rusyn Cyrillic transliteration of my name from the Shematizm for Greek Catholic Diocese - Lemko from 1787 was: H u r e j t j a k. I have the marriage records of my 2 Great uncles from this country in 1898 and 1908, and my father's baptism record from 1905 and the name is spelled H u r e t i a k. My Grandfather's tombstone and Great Uncles's tombstone both spell the name H u r a t i a k. The root of my name is Hur-, as your book suggests. Am I correct? The biblical version is listed as Khur, since I can only find Hur in my biblical reference books, should I assume Khur and Hur are the same? Should I use H u r e j t j a k in trying to search for relatives in Poland, Slovakia, or the Ukraine? If not what spelling would be used today? My Grandfather came from the village of Uscja Ruskie, Horlyci county, Galicia. Today that village is Uscie Gorlickie, Poland.

With names transliterated from Cyrillic it can get awfully tough to know for sure the "right" spelling and even the right root. I will say that Khur and Hur can be the same -- the original sound is most often spelled kh in English to indicate a guttural much like that in German "Bach"; but it is also sometimes spelled h -- the original Hebrew letter looks a lot like the letter for h, and is often rendered as an h with a dot under it, and the dot can easily get forgotten. So think Khur and Hur are probably the same. But given the East Slavic confusion of h and g sounds, even origin from a root Hur- or Gór- is not impossible.

Having said that, I have to waffle even more on you. It is very hard to say for sure what the ultimate root of your name is. The problem is that last syllable -tiak or -tjak -- I don't see how it fits into any of the possible roots. Huratiak, Hurejtjak, Huretiak, these are all just variant spellings trying to capture in letters the sound of the name, which probably sounded almost like "Hurray-chok"; the key question is, what's the source of the first part of the name? It could come from a East Slavic-influenced form of Polish góra, mountain (? "son of the mountain-man"?), or from the Khur/Hur name, it might even be an East Slavic-influenced name from Horacy, "Horace" (son of Horace?). None of these is certain, and I don't have anything that would give me reason to favor one over the others as the most likely.

I hope you won't get disgusted with me if I suggest this is a prime case for discussing with the folks at the Pracownia Antroponimiczna [Anthroponymic Workshop] of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow (for more information see my introduction, or click here for the address: Institute address). I knew my book would not be able to answer everybody's questions, and that's why I want people to know the Workshop exists -- for those who really want to know the answer, the Workshop's staff are the people best suited to supply it.

... 2) My Grandnother's name was Kuziak. I have the birth records of the Kuziak family back to the 1780's. In fact I have found a second cousin in Poland who I communicate with via email, so the name is not the problem. My question is: In your book the root is Kuz, Kuziak is listed after the meaning of carabus beetle. Is that the meaning of the name?

Kuz- is also tough because kuz- itself doesn't seem to be a popular root in Polish. I noticed in the Slownik Warszawski (an 8-volume Polish-language dictionary) that most words (as opposed to names) starting with kuz- were dialect variants of words with guz- in standard Polish. If this applies to names as well -- and generally that's a reasonable assumption to make -- Kuziak would be a variant of Guziak, a fairly common name from a root meaning "bump, swelling, button." If the K is right, however, not just a variant of G, then my best guess is that the name derives from kuza, old cow, or kuzaka, the carabus beetle.

I'm sorry I couldn't give you a straighter answer, but a lot of the time a simple, straight answer just isn't possible -- there are too many variables, an honest man can't ignore them. As you probably know, anyone who claims to have all the answers is usually a charlatan. The notions I discuss above are my best insights, but if you're not satisfied with them (and I won't blame you if you're not), it would probably be pretty cheap to contact the Anthroponymic Workshop in Krakow and see if they can help. If they can't, well, I don't know who can. But I think they're worth a try.

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




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