surnames of females

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by vido, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. vido Senior Member

    As is known most married Russian women's last name is formed by adding "-a" at the end of the husband's surname. I've seen plenty of exceptions where the woman keeps her maiden name, some of which is her father's surname with "-a" added at the end, some don't end with "a". I'm curious to know about the latter case, i.e. when the woman's last name doesn't end with "a". Is that name her father's name? Also, are there cases when the wife of, say, Mr. Petrov, adopts exactly the same surname as her husaband, that is, "Petrov", without the "a" at the end---for example, is there someone named "Ekaterina Petrov" (not "Petrova")? If so, is it extremely rare?

    Thank you for satisfying my curiosity :)
  2. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    The ending depends on the form of the last name, not whether it's from the husband or father, so it doesn't really matter if it is a maiden name or acquired through marriage. So Петрова will always be Петрова for a female.

    1) Endings -ов, -ев, -ин will always get and -a at the end for females. Their origin (both male and female) is from genitive case (possession). Петров сын or Петрова дочь mean Peter's son or Peter's daughter.

    2) The ending -ий, -ый, -ой will change their ending as if they are adjectives. These adjective-like surnames are less common in Russia, than in Poland and some other Slavic countries. Polish names with adjective-like ending will follow the same rule in Russian. To be exact Polish endings are not the same as Russian.

    Surnames Петровский, Калиновский, Новый, Большой will become Петровская, Калиновская, Новая, Большая (but compare with Polish: Kalinowski - Kalinowska - I highlighted the ending, not the stressed vowels)

    The surnames that do not add anything and don't change are the ones that don't fall into the 2 categories, even if they have Russian or Slavic origin. Most foreign names, ending in anything (vowel or consonant) will not change for females:

    E.g. Бондарчук, Сердюк, Кулеш, Восьмак, etc. will not change.
  3. These latter ones are mostly of Ukrainian/Belarussian origin, that`s the reason, I think. Russian surnames ending in a consonant are extremely rare and quite old , I suppose.
    And I have never heard of the surnames Новая or Большая. Do they really exist or is it just to demonstrate the rule?
  4. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Just to demonstrate the rule. There are a lot of Russian names having a consonant ending (but not -ов, -ев, -ин), but what difference does it make, the same rule will apply to English, French and whatever origin? What is you point, Setwale_Charm? IMHO, the question was if we add the ending -a or not, not what is considered a pure Russian last name. :) My point is - add -a if it's matching those ending and leave unchanged if they don't. (Plus rule number 2 for adjective-like surnames).

    Russians living overseas may adjust to local rules and both husband and wife will have the same ending in e.g.their driver's licence just to avoid confusion in the documents. She would be still called Екатерина Петрова by Russians, no matter what country they live in.
  5. ekhlewagastiR Junior Member

    Russian (languages RUS, SWE, ENG, GER, ESP)
    As far as I know in Lithuanian language the ending of the surnames changes depending if it´s a maiden name or the woman is already married. But in Russian it doesn´t depend on it at all.
  6. That`s true. Doesn`t that happen in Polish and Latvian as well, or used to?

    Anatoli, I meant simply that the surnames Большая/Новая sound strange to me. I was wondering whether they really exist or you just invented them as an example to demonstrate how the rule works?
  7. janek Junior Member

    Warsaw, Poland
    Polish, Poland
    In Polish it used to, but now it's mostly obsolete. The endings used to be:

    -ówna (or -anka) for unmarried woman (effectively it indicated a daughter of a man of given surname)

    -owa for a married woman.

    This, however, did not apply to all types of surnames: typical Polish surnames ending with -ski (which in many cases indicated someone with an upper class origin) did not follow the rule. Therefore my assumption is that it came from the social "grassroots", where it was first applied to people who were known by nickname or profession, like:

    Kowal (Smith) - Kowalowa (Smith's wife) - Kowalówna (Smith's daughter)
    Kowalczyk (Smith's apprentice) - Kowalczykowa (Smith's apprentice's wife) - Kowalczykówna (Smith's apprentice's
    Nowak (Newman, or Newcomer) - Nowakowa (Newcomer's wife) - Nowakówna (Newcomer's daughter)

    However, before taking my "revelations" for granted, I'd advise cross-checking with a specialist :)

    Today this sort of differentiation is not used anymore, unless half-jokingly.
  8. vido Senior Member

    Thank you Anatoli for the interesting information about Russian name rules :thumbsup:

    Is this more so in cases of, say, the British wife of a Russian man?
  9. Such cases have not been known to me:) , although an American friend of mine married to a Russian was always mentioned in the "male" form. I do not know what her passport said however.
  10. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Yes, I heard about those. Although they are rare, I wanted to include them to demonstrate the rule.

    If you don't like Большой, Толстой follows the same rule.
  11. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    It would be her choice. If she lived in the UK and she were not ethnically Russian she would most likely choose to be Petrov with no ending (Russians would still call her Petrova in speech, although on paper she were Petrov). In Russia she would be Petrova both in written and spoken Russian, even if she was a foreigner.

    Talking about Russians living overseas and their partners it also depends on how these people are trying to preserve the culture. Russians in Australia, for example, never use patronymics at all, it would sound very old-fashioned, besides the papers don't require them any more.
  12. vido Senior Member

    Спасибо, Anatoli и Setwale_charm. :)
  13. zaigucis

    zaigucis Senior Member

    Latvian, Latvia
    No, never.
  14. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Surnames ending in -их and -ых (they're quite common in Russian) don't cnange. For example, Гладких and Черных may be both male and female surnames.
  15. cajzl Senior Member

    It is obvious (for Slavic speakers, of course) as they are adjectives in genitive plural. But Czechs usually add the suffix -ová to such Russian surnames, for example Ludmila Ivanovna Černychová. IMHO the better choice would be Ludmila I. Černych (or Černých).

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