Slovak (and Czech): Marečák (and Mareček)

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by DMMD, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. DMMD New Member

    English (UK) -- Canada
    Greetings from France and Canada!

    I am a Canadian studying at the University of Paris IV - Sorbonne and I was hoping someone might be able to help. My surname is of Czechoslovakian origin: I say Czechoslovakian because my family immigrated to North America prior to 1992-3, and have thus always been told it is 'Czechoslovakian,' as opposed to Czech or Slovak. That being the case, my grandfather has done genealogical research and determined that our family originated from a village called Betlanovce, near Poprad, in what is now Slovakia.

    I was just hoping that there might be someone who could help clarify the meaning and pronunciation of our family name. My grandfather's family immigrated to Ohio in the North-Eastern United States, and from there my grandfather immigrated to Canada after marrying my Canadian grandmother. Understandably, with all of this moving around, over the years I am sure the pronunciation has changed from the original, or what it should be.

    It is spelled Marecak, and it is my understanding that in the original language it is spelled with the following accents: Marečák

    The Americanized pronunciation sounds like: "Mare-uh-sack" with the emphasis on the first syllable. The spelling was never changed, only (I presume) the pronunciation.
    My mother's father is British, and he along with every other Briton I have met pronounces it: "Mare-uh-chack" with a slight emphasis on the third syllable.
    My grandfather himself pronounces it "Mar-sack" with the emphasis on the first syllable.

    Does anyone know what the name means? How it would be pronounced in Czech or Slovak? How it should be pronounced properly in English, or how to anglicise it? I'm sick and tired of not knowing how to pronounce my own name!

    Any and all help would be enormously appreciated. As you can imagine, it is particularly difficult to pronounce in French and I was hoping to get a definitive answer. Thank you very much in advance for your time and consideration.

    : )
  2. marsi.ku Member

    The czech pronounciation of your surname is 'marecha:k - the accent is in the first syllable but the last "a" is prolonged.
    For the moment I didn't find what it means but maybe someone knows it.
  3. Gnoj Senior Member

    I'm not Slovak nor Czech, but if the spelling "Marečák" is the correct one, I'm confident that the pronunciation would be Mah-reh-chu:ck (á = aa), with stress on the first syllable. You can hear it here: I think "Marechack" (Mare-uh-chack) would be the closest spelling match you can get for a correct pronunciation in English.
  4. francisgranada Senior Member

    The Slovak standard pronounciation of Marečák is the same as the Czech. In the dialects spoken around Poprad it could sound like ma'rechak (with the accent on the penultimate syllable).

    As to the meaning, it may derive from the christian name (given name) Marek as there are also other surnames of this kind, e.g. Peterčák, Matuščák ...
  5. bibax Senior Member

    Marečák is definitely Slovak, the Czech equivalent is Mareček (= little Marek; Marek = Marcus, Mark (the Evangelist)).

    Pronuntiation (in French transcription and IPA):

    Marečák: Marais-tchaque, ['marɛʧaːk]
    Mareček: Marais-tchèque (the Czech marsh :)), ['marɛʧɛk]

    Stress is on the first syllable both in Standard Slovak and Standard Czech.
  6. francisgranada Senior Member

    I am not sure about the original meaning or function of the ending -čák. The Slovak diminutive should be Mareček (as chlapček, domček etc ...). There is also a dialectal version -čok (e.g. chlapčok) but I've never heard diminutives like *chlapčák, *domčák :) ... In Slovak surnames we can find all the mentioned endings, e.g. Martinček, Martinčok, Martinčák.

    Spontaneousely, I could interprete this -čák as "originating, beeing associated to, coming from" the family of Marek, Martin etc ... Finally, there are also surnames like Vargovčák, Sabolčák ... where Vargov (probably from Hung. Varga) and Sabol are not given names (but rather surnames).
  7. NotNow Senior Member

    Shouldn't the r be rolled? My last name is Bartos, and we always roll the r.
  8. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    MOD EDIT: I've merged two threads (thanks to Azori for the heads-up), so some of the posts appear in a somewhat different context than originally written.
  9. Gnoj Senior Member

    In Slavic languages? Always.
  10. Azori Senior Member

    I'm not sure if one can really say that the Slovak pronunciation here is the same as (or fully identical with) the Czech one.
    Is the original language Slovak? (if yes, how relevant is it to know the Czech pronunciation?)
  11. vianie Senior Member

  12. francisgranada Senior Member

    Isn't the Slovak pronunciation also ['marɛʧaːk]?
  13. Azori Senior Member

    I don't know. Perhaps it is. I was reading this article on the IPA and Slovak (pdf, p. 87 - 109) and there are also some notes about Czech.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  14. Kyle Butler New Member

    Slovak, English
    I know some people in Slovakia with the last name Mareček, never met any Marečák though.
  15. Just a small note: surnames with the suffix -ák are far more usual in the Eastern Slovakia (Andrejčák, Varholák, etc.) > that might be where DMMD's surname comes from. Pronunciation in the eastern dialect would be [mar'ɛʧak], with the accent on the paenultima and short last a.
  16. vianie Senior Member


    That is true.

    Likely you meant [ma'rɛʧak].

    Yet, I don't suppose the contenporary Easterners are that rigorous in their accentuation.
  17. ThessMousie New Member

    Slovak, Czech
    As far as I see it the accent should be put on the penultimate syllable.
  18. francisgranada Senior Member

    Yes, when you are speaking in dialect or Polish. But when you speak in standard Slovak or Czech, it would be quite unnatural to put the stress/accent on penultimate syllable, because the stress is always on the first syllable.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  19. bibax Senior Member

    You were right.

    However the suffix is in fact -ák. If a (place) name ends in the suffix like -ek, -ec, -ice, -ka, -ky, etc. then the compound with -ák always ends in -čák.

    Vargovčák is from Vargovec, Sabolčák is from Sabolec. etc.

    In Czech we have e.g. Frýdečák (Frýdek), Liberečák (Liberec), Lhotečák (Lhotka or Lhotky), Vizovičák (Vizovice), and Lobečák (not Lobečečák, from Lobeček).

    Thus Marečák is hypothetically derived from Marek, Marka, Marky, Marec, Mareček, Marečky by the suffix -ák.

    Whilst Mareček is a diminutive, derived from Marek by the common diminutive suffix -ek.
  20. DMMD New Member

    English (UK) -- Canada
    WOW. I am overwhelmed and very grateful to everyone for their detailed and informative answers! I was very interested in learning about the name's roots in the name 'Marek,' as well as the definitive pronunciation. The Google translate site was a brilliant idea, and the French pronunciation of "Marais-tchaque" was perfectly understandable. I will start using that at once:)

    A profound THANK YOU to you all, marvellous forum experts!

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