Your name is your history

Personal names as common cultural heritage of the V4 region

Your name is your history
An onomastic project supported by the Visegrad Fund 
 
The aim of the project is to provide openly accessible knowledge about the family name stocks of the V4 countries.
 
Personal names preserve information about cultures and societies. The common history of the V4 region resulted in similarities in our personal name stocks. For example, occupational family names (e.g. ‘smith’ CZ Kovář, HU Kovács, PL Kowal, SK Kováč) or ethnonymic ones (e.g. those meaning ‘Hungarian’, ‘Czech’, ‘Polish’, ‘Slovak’) are typical of all the four countries. Moreover, there are Slavic names in Hungary (e.g. Novák, Petrovics) and Hungarian names in the three Slavic countries of the V4 region (e.g. Nagy, Horváth). Similarly, our first name stocks contain equivalents due to common religious-cultural sources and to borrowing. Since family names are hereditary, recognising their origins helps to understand our common history. Moreover, our personal names are part of our national identities. However, reliable scholarly information about names rarely appears in school or even university curricula, while the constantly growing body of misleading information is available on the book market and on the Internet. This is a problem with registration, too: errors of registration may offend the name bearers’ national identities, similarly to incorrect addressing in international communication (e.g. confused male and female names or the inverted order of first and family names).
 
The main results of the project will be an online family name dictionary of the four languages and an online university course.
 

About the online dictionary of family names of the V4 countries

 
The online dictionary will contain the most frequent family names of each of the four countries. Along with their etymology (linguistic origin and meaning), spelling, variants (e.g. Kovács and Kowacz), name types (e.g. patronymic, ethnonymic) and frequencies by countries will also be added. Information will be given in the national languages respectively (e.g. for Czech names in Czech, Polish names in Polish, etc.) and also in English. The sources of the information are print family name dictionaries of the four countries and official statistical data.
The dictionary may help to find out whether a name is used in the other V4 countries, which language it comes from, or how it is spelled. Information will make name registration easier (e.g. official family name changes, naturalisation). The dictionary would unquestionably facilitate genealogical research for V4 citizens, especially for those whose names are of foreign origin, having emerged from one of the other three of V4 languages. It can promote the awareness that our family name stocks are closely related to one another, due to the historical co-existence and cultural, economic, religious, political etc. connections of our nations for centuries. English as a working language also promotes genealogical research for the users from outside the V4 countries whose ancestors used to live in the region.
 

Project leader:

HUNGARY
Department of Hungarian Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics and Dialectology
Budapest, Hungary
 
Project coordinator:
 
Members:
 
Kitti Hauber PhD student
 

Project partners:

CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech Academy of Sciences
Praha, Czech Republic
 
Members:
 
Czech Academy of Sciences
Czech Language Institute
Department of Onomastics
 
Czech Academy of Sciences
Czech Language Institute
Department of Language Cultivation
 
POLAND
Poznan, Poland
 
Members:
 
Justyna Walkowiak
Adam Mickiewicz University
Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures
Department of Language Policy and Minority Studies
 
Małgorzata Rutkiewicz-Hanczewska
Karolina Galewska PhD sudent
Adam Mickiewicz University
 
SLOVAKIA
Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
Faculty of Central European Studies
Nitra, Slovakia
 
Members:
 
Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
Faculty of Central European Studies
Institute for Teacher Training
 
Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra
Faculty of Central European Studies
Institute of Hungarian Linguistics and Literary Science