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Kurdziel - Pawłowicz
Created by Administrator Account in 9/27/2010 6:48:20 AM


... In your "free time" :-) would you graciously provide whatever information you might have about the following two surnames: 1. Pawlowicz (really Pawłowicz), my paternal surname; and 2. Kurdziel, my maternal surname.

Pawłowicz just means "son of Paul" -- the suffix -owicz means "son of," and Paweł is the Polish form of the name we call "Paul." So this surname is an exact equivalent of the English name "Paulson" or "Paulsen." Surnames formed as patronymics from popular first names are usually quite common, and as of 1990 there were 3,816 Polish citizens named Pawłowicz (in fact, I'm a little surprised there weren't more). As is obvious from the nature of the name, it could develop independently anywhere they spoke Polish and had guys named Paweł, so there's no one part of Poland this name is especially common -- it shows up all over the country.

Kurdziel is an odd one, because it's also rather common -- as of 1990 there were 2,234 Poles named Kurdziel -- but you would never expect that from its meaning. According to Polish surname expert Kazimierz Rymut in his book Nazwiska Polaków, this name comes from the term kurdziel, which means "ulcer on a horse's tongue"! A massive 8-volume Polish-language dictionary that Rymut recommended to me as being particularly helpful with old words and their meanings adds that it is a popular term for a growth under any animal's tongue due to infection or irritation from a foreign body -- and that's the only meaning it gives for it. How this got to be anybody's name, let along a name borne by 2,234 Poles, is beyond me! But that clearly seems to be the derivation -- and I have to suppose it was not originally meant as a compliment. However, as Polish names go, this one is a lot better than many others I have seen!

This name appears all over Poland, but it is particularly common in the provinces of Bielsko-Biala (110), Katowice (289), Kraków (790), Rzeszów (111), and Tarnów (147). So these days, at least, it is found most often in Małopolska or "Little Poland," the western half of Galicia, from the southcentral part of Poland eastward.

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



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