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Jakisz - Kępka - Kempka
Created by Administrator Account in 5/11/2010 2:04:45 PM

 


...I am interested in the origins of two names. The first is Kempka and the other is Yackish. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Kempka comes from the Polish word kępa, "cluster of trees; holm" (ę is the Polish nasal vowel written as e with a tail under it and pronounced much like "en" or, before b or p, "em"); in other words, Kępka and Kempka are alternative spellings of the same name. The -ka is a diminutive suffix, "little __." So this surname probably started as an indication of where a family lived, kind of a shorthand for "the folks who live by the little cluster of trees." There must have been a lot of folks who lived near such clusters -- as of 1990 there were 5,213 Polish citizens named Kępka, and another 814 who used the spelling Kempka. They lived all over Poland, I see no significant pattern to the name's frequency and distribution; that just makes sense, this name could get started anywhere people spoke Polish and lived near trees, that is, anywhere in Poland!

Yackish is a tough one because the name has obviously been Anglicized -- for instance, Polish doesn't use Y at the start of words, also it doesn't use the combination "sh." Going strictly by phonetics, the Polish spelling would be Jakisz, and there is such a name, but it's quite rare; as of 1990 there were 24 Poles named Jakisz. They lived in the following provinces: Warsaw 7, Białystok 1, Katowice 2, Kraków 1, Lublin 2, Opole 2, Szczecin 5, Wroclaw 4 (unfortunately I have no access to further details such as first names or addresses). The name Jakisz appears in records as far back as 1579, and is one of many surnames that started out as a nickname for people with first names beginning with Jak-, including Jakub (Jacob), Jakim (= Joachim), etc. Poles loved to make nicknames by taking the first part of a popular first name, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes. So basically Jakisz would be kind of like "Jake's son" in English.

Of course, without further research there's no way to tell if Jakisz is the name you're looking for -- it just seems to be the best match, based on the info you've given me. Whatever the original form was, it probably originated the same way. In any case, if the name starts Yack- in English, it probably was Jak- in Polish.

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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