Немов and its meaning

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Asabrag, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Asabrag

    Asabrag New Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden
    The word, as written in the title, is Немов (Nemov). This surname has caused me a great amount of confusion, as I initially thought "Nem" was a real, given name (Nem + ov = son of Nem, like Romanov, Simonov) and searched fruitlessly for it in Russian name-lists. Finally, asking a Russian friend, who told me that endings don't really matter in surnames: they're often composed of words that form a different meaning. An example being Bogolyubov (lover of God).
    His best bet, and he said he wasn't sure, was that Немов either meant "silent" or had something to do with Germans (who, interestingly, were called "the silent" because they did not speak proto-Slavic).

    So what's bugging me? In the few dictionaries online that I can find a result, they always suggest немой, meaning "dumb" - an odd choice of a surname, as would "German" be, but I'm not an expert on this. So I'm wondering if, being a surname and having the в rather than the й which makes it a whole new word, that alters the meaning as well?
     
  2. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Немов < немой is very natural for the surname of the son of a dumb one. Originally it could be just a nickname (cf. Вдовин < вдова - widow; Сироткин < сирота - orphan and so on).
    As for origin from немец, it would be rather Немцов.
     
  3. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Just a small addition: "dumb" means mute here, not "stupid".
     
  4. Asabrag

    Asabrag New Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden
    So he was right... I need to thank him properly then =) Thanks a bunch!

    Ah, I see.

    Aha, so the surname most likely didn't arise from an insulting nickname but just a tendency to be quiet or actually mute?
     
  5. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Note quiet, but just mute, not able to speak.
     
  6. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    From Wordreference dictionary:

    [h=3]dumb /dʌm/ adj[/h]
    • lacking the power to speak, either because of defects in the vocal organs or because of hereditary deafness
    • lacking the power of human speech: dumb animals
    • temporarily lacking or bereft of the power to speak: struck dumb
    • refraining from speech; uncommunicative
    • producing no sound; silent: a dumb piano
    • made, done, or performed without speech
    • informal slow to understand; dim-witted
    • foolish; stupid
      See also dumb down
    Etymology: Old English; related to Old Norse dumbr, Gothic dumbs, Old High German tump

    ˈdumbly adv ˈdumbness n
     
  7. Asabrag

    Asabrag New Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden
    Oh, I see. What a strange surname to have... then again, it's just a name and I don't think anyone Russian goes "that means mute" today.

    Thanks guys! Can finally put this to rest =)
     
  8. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Russia did not abolish slavery until 1860s, and before that many peasants did not have family names, so some names developed from nicknames, so Немов is "one who belongs in a mute person't family / mute person's son". Check this thread for more info. The most common Russian last name is Смирнов(Smirnov) - son of a person nicknamed “quiet one”.
     
  9. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    What would you say about Feuchtwanger then? To say nothing about Неудачин, Плохов, Нехорошев, Дураков, Идиотов, Кретинов, Дебилов and many other very strange Russian surnames which you can easily find in the phone book?
     
  10. Avanpost Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    Many words came in our language from many cultures, so it's difficult to clarify senses of them. We don't take into account meanings of surnames, and we often do not know -- most of us -- what they mean and where they came from. Just a word without any special 'colour' so to speak; however, names of animals and craftsmen are common in our surnames.
     
  11. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    I'm afraid I cannot agree. The most part of Russian surnames are quite clear in their original sense, and the meaning of the most part of the rest of them can be easily found out. And of course many surnames are strongly "coloured", best of all this is known by the schoolchildren.
     
  12. e2-e4 X Senior Member

    Русский
    I agree. :)

    As for "most common Russian surnames", there is a word to say. :) While most common they may well be, according to some or other calculations, their 'commonity' is not at all evident, they do not look more popular than other surnames; still, this 'commonity' is very often mentioned by people for some reasons. Each Smirnov of this kind goes in the Russian urban folklore as a typical example for a typical person, but in reality there are real people and not examples. So, when someone decides to write fiction with Smirnovs as its characters, my mind immediately gets the image of a person that doesn't exist. Somehow it reminds me of the surname Doe in American English. ;-)
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  13. Avanpost Junior Member

    Russia
    Russian
    You cannot agree, I see; but a person who educated and brought-up better would agree -- they would never think whether the surname is coloured or not. They would never think. But if your intellect like a schoolboy's one, you would. Sorry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  14. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Nothing to be sorry about, actually. Children are ingenious and cruel at the same time. With age they learn to restrain cruelty due to the social customs and lose ingenuousness due to the natural reason. If there is still anything to regret, is that adults can be so incurious that can be not interested in the origin even of their own surname.
     
  15. Asabrag

    Asabrag New Member

    Sweden
    Swedish - Sweden
    As I don't know what those mean, I cannot answer you: to me, they are no stranger than the next one. To me, however, it is strange because we, where I live, don't have surnames like it. Won't find any Stumberg or Dumqvist here, nope.

    I can totally understand that - like every Swede or Scandinavian person is named "Olafsson" or some variant thereof, when there's very few of those to begin with^^
     
  16. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Well, they "mean" exactly what they seem to mean, with the only exception, maybe, for Дебилов, which really can mean nothing in Russian for being of the Caucasus origin.
     

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