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Linettaj - Linette - Linettej - Linetty
Created by Administrator Account in 9/27/2010 8:23:30 AM

 


…My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Linettey. The family used many spellings in this country (Linety, Lenety, Lennety, Lenertej, etc.); only one of my grandmother's seven siblings was male, and he's elusive. On ship records (emigration) and naturalization papers (1874 and 1884), Linettey was used.

Usually with names I can make at least some guess what the derivation is, but this one baffles me. It doesn't sound Polish, but my sources on Lithuanian and German names don't mention it either. It is possible it is a Germanic variant of the first name Leonard or Leonhard -- I've seen cases where a name like that can get changed quite a bit in some German dialects -- but as I say, none of my sources mention it, so that is purely a guess on my part. However, if you've run into the form Lenertej, that kind of strengthens this hypothesis, since Lenart and Lenert are known variants of "Leonard."

If I can't help you with the name's meaning, I can at least assure you that there are Poles by this name. I have a 10-volume directory that lists all the surnames of Polish citizens as of 1990, giving how many lived in Poland and a breakdown by province (but unfortunately no further details such as first names or addresses). As of 1990 there were 2 Linettaj (1 each in Warsaw and Bygdoszcz provinces), 60 Linette's (in these provinces: Bydgoszcz 19, Koszalin 10, Opole 5, Poznan 22, Wroclaw 4), 29 Linettej's (Warsaw 1, Bydgoszcz 13, Gdansk 1, Pila 1, Skierniewice 5, Torun 8), and 100 Linetty's (Bydgoszcz 42, Pila 34, Poznan 18, Torun 6). From the viewpoint of Polish linguistics and orthography, it's a good bet these are all different forms of the same name. Looking at the distribution and frequency, it appears Bydgoszcz province in northwestern Poland is the place this name appears most often. Also, all the provinces mentioned with sizable numbers are in the western part of Poland, the area long ruled by the Germans. So some sort of Germanic linguistic influence is plausible, and again this gives a little support to the idea that this might be a variant from the name Leonard. There are and always have been large numbers of ethnic Germans living in Poland, although after a few generations many came to think of themselves, and be thought of by others, as pure Poles.

So to sum up, the name is not common in Poland, but it does exist in several slightly different spellings, and it is seen mainly in those areas with large German populations and ruled by Germany from roughly 1772 to 1945. There is some reason to think it comes from the first name Leonard or Leonhard -- many, many surnames started as references to "son of so-and-so," so the name may have first been used to refer to the kin of some prominent fellow named Leonard.

If you don't mind spending $20 or so, you might want to try writing to the
Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute in Krakow. They don't do genealogical research, but for a reasonable fee they will look in their extensive sources and see if they have information on the origins of individual names; and they can handle correspondence in English.

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

 

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