Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by Joca, Feb 19, 2007.
I am just curious. Why do many Finnish surnames end in -nen? Does -nen have any special meaning?
Ending -nen (or -lainen/läinen) has originally meant a person who lives in a certain kind of place. For example:
Mäki = hill; Mäkinen = someone who lives on a hill.
Pelto = field; Peltonen = someone who lives by a field.
The first part before -nen can also be the name of a farm or a village or a province or even a country. For example:
Karjala = Carelia, a province in eastern Finland; Karjalainen = one who lives in Carelia.
Suomalainen (Finnish), Ruotsalainen (Swedish), Venäläinen (Russian) and Virolainen (Estonian) are very common surnames in Finland.
Traditionally Finnish surnames have been conducted from names of places. Still in the 19th century it was quite usual that a person (or a family) changed surname when moving to another place to live.
Surnames meaning a profession (like Smith) are quite rare in Finland and names expressing father's name (like Johnson) are practically non-existent.
Thanks a lot for the information. By the way, are there Jews in Finland? How do they choose their surnames? In the same way as you described, that is, according to the place where they live? Or do they have distinctive surnames?
Yes, we have Jews but not too many of them, only some 1500 persons. Practically all of the Finnish Jews came from Russia during 19th century and in the beginning of the Russian revolution, and they have mostly kept their distinctive surnames that are of German/Yiddish (like Stiller) or Russian (like Zyskowicz) or Hebrew (like Smolar) origin. Some have taken a name that is easier to pronounce for Finns. And of course there are mixed marriages that have given Finnish names to Jewish families.
Thanks again. But I was rather intrigued by your saying "not too many". I know what you mean and I don't want to be a nitpicker, but I am afraid the right expression should be: "but not many of them." By saying "not too many of them", you could be implying that over 1,500 Jews in your country would be an excess, or that the number of Jews should have a ceiling, if I make myself understood, so that they don't become too many. Don't take this amiss, please, but I think it pays to explain this point, so you don't get misunderstood and unjustly accused of anti-semitism.
Sorry, I really don't know where this "too" came from. Absolutely I didn't think that there could be too many of them. On the contrary, I appreciate Jews very much for their intelligence, good habits etc.
Thanks for your attention. I appreciate your input.
As I was a bit confused for my word "too", I checked it in a dictionary and it said "not too many = not so many". So my phrase wasn't exactly wrong but I admit that it can be misunderstood.
Anyway, thanks for noticing this point.
Thanks Joca for asking this question!
Hakro, I've read this thread with a great interest. Thank you very much.
I feel a need to throw in my two cents as a native speaker. There was nothing wrong with Hakro's original phrasing. "Not too many" can simply mean "not very many."
Thanks for confirming.
I too immediately understood that "not too many" meant "not very many". But it is tricky, sometimes people can read wrong meanings into very innocent sentences. Language is like that!
I hate to ask, but does Mäntylä have any meaning in Finnish?
Thanks. Yes, that's my last name.
Mänty = pine; Mäntylä = a place name due to the pines growing there. It's a common family name in Finland.
Does Tiilikainen have a meaning? Tiili is brick, tile or something like that, isn't it? But what about the "kainen" part of the surname?
As far as I know, -kainen has no meaning in itself, but indicates a person of some kind (as -nen), such as someone from a specific place (also for gentilics). See Hakro's post #2, it goes also for your question.
Yea I had read that, but "someone who is from brick" didn't make any sense to me.... Anyway, thanks!
Well, it doesn't need to be a gentilic, that is only one of the ways it is used. Cf. "nuorukainen" (a youngster). To see what I mean, think of it as "a person of the young kind". -(i)nen is also used in formations of nouns such as "vihainen" (angry, from viha, hate) etc.
Thanks, jonquiliser! I had no idea. Do you know, by chance, if Tiilikainen means something at all???
I've no idea really. Perhaps someone lived by a brick pile and took that name
Having done some searching, I was able to dig up that Tiilikka is apparently a place name (and also a surname), and Tiilikainen could be a derivation of that, i.e. someone who lives in Tiilikka. I don't know whether Tiilikka means anything else or if it has anything to do with bricks. The Finnish word for brick is after all a loan from Swedish (tegel, Swedish for "brick").
THANK YOU SO MUCH DR WATSON!!!!!!!!!!
I kept wondering, because I'd heard it was very common surname in Finland...
Hey, my boyfriend's last name is Rakkolainen or Räkköläinen and I was wondering if it meant anything.
I did a google and ancestry search and came up with nothing.
Hi Kati, and welcome to the forum!
I would guess that Rakkolainen means a person who lives in Rakkola (a village in Karelia, nowadays on the Russian side of border).
In a similar way, Räkköläinen could mean somebody who lives in Räkkölä, but I couldn't find such a place name. Possibly it's just a name of a farm.
Anyway, both Rakkolainen and Räkköläinen seem to be originally Karelian family names.
I live on the wrong shore of the Gulf of Finland (i.e. in Estonia), but here the remnants of this suffix have some deminutive meaning:
nuorukkeine < nuor(i) = young (& little) [in a dialect close to Ingrian Finnish and Votic]
poiskõnõ < poiss = a little boy [in the southernmost dialect]
(like English: "frog" > "froggy")
I feel something similar, when I hear Finnish words "pienokainen" (< pieni = small) or "paksukainen" (< paksu = fat / thick).
"Tiilikainen" seems to be a surname derived from the word "tiili" = brick. May be the first person, who got this surname was somehow related to producing bricks or simply lived in the very first brickhouse in his village ..
"Tiilikäinen" would sound a bit better to my ears.
Thank you for your participation to the thread and for your interesting post.
When searching the etymology of Rakkolainen/Räkköläinen I also found some contacts to Estonia. But that's another story.
If we think of the ending -kainen/-käinen, we note that usually the basic word is an adjective. On the other hand, most of the place names in Finland are older than the time of Swedish influence. That's why I believe that the name Tiilikainen has nothing to do with bricks; as Dr. Watson said, it probably means somebody living in a place named Tiilikka. And that's why the name is Tiilikainen and not Tiilikäinen which would be a more logical form, as you said, Astlanda.
Besides, I would guess that the name of the family who was the first to live in a brick house would have been "Tiililäinen", but there is no such Finnish name.
By the way, it's nice to see that you call your language as "maamurre". Only a few people here can understand it. Why don't you tell more about yourself to the WR forer@s?
You're probably right about the etymology of "Tiilikainen" (vs "Tiililäinen") and I saw Dr. Watson's post only after I had posted mine already, beacause it was on the second page.
I just noticed, that jonquiliser said, that the -kainen suffix has no meaning.
He may be right about modern Finnish. Though I believe, that it's not the whole truth.
Moreover, if the surname is derived from a toponym Tiilikka, then only the second part of the suffix i.e. -inen was used, which usually makes adjectives from nouns indeed (even here).
They may have relations with a very narrow subdialect of North-Eastern Estonia only (near Narva-Jõesuu). They sound more Ingrian or Karelian.
I don't know either, why jonquiliser calls his native language: ruoŧagiella (Suopma), which I can guess although I don't speak any saami, but I just feel that the modern Estonian has chosen the direction (in the current century), which I don't want to follow any more and I'm not the only one (J.Kaplinski is a much better known example).
I am here to learn Arabic and I don't know yet, what WR forer@s is. I'll find out.
Hello. I'm new at this but will do my best.
My family name is KERKKONEN, does anyone know what it means?
Kerkkonen may be derived of Finnish "kirkko", which means "church".
The same word in South-Estonian Tartu dialect is "kerkko", which is closer, but the "nen" suffix has been abbreviated to "ne" in Tartu.
Thank you astlanda, this is what we thought, but were'nt sure.
jonquiliser, wish I could understand what you wrote.
The name Karkkila belongs to a Germanic name group (Gericke, Kercho, Garko) which has been transformed i.a. into the parish names Karkku and Karkkila and also the surnames Karkkola, Kerkkonen and Karkkonen. Source: Sukunimet (Surnames) / Pirjo Mikkonen and Sirkka Paikkala. - Helsinki: Otava, 2000. - p. 200-201
Thank you very much sakvaka.
I have just been tracing the Finnish side of my family tree, and some research brought me to this page. I think it would be very interesting to know the meanings and roots of some surnames, especially as many are repeated a lot in my family tree.
My grandfather's surname was Riekkinen and he was from Kaavi. I have not been able to trace his ancestors as yet, despite a large number of Riekkinens in Kaavi.
My grandmother was a Kuoppa from Metsäpirtti and most of her side of the family were from the Sakkola region. Here are more surnames from her ancestors:
Sorry for the long list! There are surprisingly few names considering the number of people in my tree. As I said, they are mainly all from the same region of Finland/Russia/Karelia. Any information would be gratefully received.
Well, if no Finn is willing to help:
Peldoin/Peldoinen < pelto (field)
Pohjalain < pohjalainen (northener)
Kallonen/Kalloin ~ I don't think, it's related to "kallo" (scull)
Ahtiain ~ Ahti the water deity
Lemmytt ~ lemmitty (the loved one)
Hämäläin < the one from Häme
Heickoin ~ heikko (weak)
Nujia = truncheon, club
Löytöin ~ löytää (to find)
Nurminen ~ nurmi (meadow)
Ulkolain = outsider
Would like to know if the Surname Trinkala is finnish.
I doubt it --
1) Finnish words (including names) very rarely begin in a consonant cluster, such as the Tr- of Trinkala.
2) I Googled a combination of "trinkala" and "suomi" (the Finnish word for "Finland") and there were only four results, none of which seem to mention a Finnish person named Trinkala.
The Google search shows that Trinkala is the name of a place in Greece, so maybe it's also a Greek surname.
Does anyone know the origin of the name Tergujeff? It seems to be a fairly common name, but it doesn't sound very Finnish to me (it ends in a consonant and has the sounds g and f).
Tergujeff doesn't sound Finnish at all. I'd say it's a transliteration from the Russian name Тергуев.
I agree. A quick Google search of Тергуев gives some 400 results. Many people with that surname seem to live in Karelia, although I did see some Dagestani mentioned as well. Nevertheless, the origin is not Finnish. And I suppose most Finnish surnames ending with -jef(f) or -of(f) are originally from Russia, like Terentjef(f) and Akimof(f).
You're probably right -- still, it's odd that Tergujeff brings up so many search results (most or all of which seem to be Finnish) but Тергуев brings less than half as many.
Izhora, does the name Тергуев have a transparent meaning in Russian?
I don't see any transparent meaning in Russian, sorry Gavril.
Is it possible to find out what "Antilla" (I think it is "Anttila" in Finnish) means? I have no idea where they were from. Also, the surname, "Pavola" (or Paavola)? Sounds almost Russian. I was barred from a trip to Finland in 2010, so am earnestly seeking answers. Thanks!
Hi Hoosic, and welcome to the forums, especially to the Finnish forum!
Both Anttila and Paavola are very common Finnish surnames. They become from the Finnish first names Antti (Andrew) and Paavo (Paul). Most probably "Anttila" has been a farm where Antti was the proptietor, and in a similar way "Paavola" was a farm owned by some "Paavo". So the name of the farm often became the family name. The children kept the name even when they moved to somewhere else, but also the family may have changed their last name when they moved to another farm that already had a name - maybe a name due to the type of the place, for example a lake (Järvi), a hill (Mäki) and so on.
Probably you're not interested what "Antilla" is but I'll tell it anyway:
A famous Finnish boatbuilder Eino Antinoja passed away a few months ago at the age of 89. (His last name could be translated "Antti's ditch".) Anyway, he started building wooden boats in the fifties but moved on to GRP in the sixties and had a contract with the famous Sparkman&Stephens. One of his first S&S design yachts was a 30-footer that was named "Antilla", the name of his daughter, and of course the name of the girl became from the Antilles islands -- that's where we all would like to sail.
I'm sorry to disturb you with this off-topic story, but I had to tell it just because I'm interested in the names behind the words and the words behind the names. Maybe somebody can pick up an idea from this story.
I always thought my last name, Owens, was Welsh, or something similar. Imagine my surprise when I found out my earliest ancestor in America was Johan Oinoinen from Finland. He settled in Wilmington Delaware around 1694. Somewhere along the way the name was changed to Oins, then finally Owens.
The research I found says he was christened in Pielisjärvi, Ita-Suomen Laani, Finland.
Can anyone tell me anything about the name Oinoinen? Thanks
According to this webpage, there's a connection between Oino(i)nen and oinas (ram; "Aries" in the astrological signs of the Zodiac).
I know this thread is quite old, but since SerenaTodd asked about these names I thought I'd try to answer as well as I can. I was especially interested in
translating the names because you mentioned that some of your ancestors were from Kaavi. I live quite close to Kaavi myself, and my father-side family has been living in this area for hundreds of years. I'm a history student and we are currently trying to study our own genealogy too. So I'm happy to help in any way I can.
Riekkinen comes from the bird riekko, in English willow grouse.
Kuoppa means a hole or a pit, usually a hole in the ground.
Metsäpirtti is a place name, but it means "A forest cabin"/"Little house in the forest"/"forest home".
Korkka - I'm not sure about this, it doesn't mean anything directly, at least not anything that I know of. But there are some pretty similar-sounding words like korkki = bottlecap/cork/plug. But korkki is not such and old word, I personally would suggest that Korkka has something to do with the word korkea = high. Korkka might be a derivative of korkea, meaning a high place or something.
Kurri/Kurrin - kurri is an old word which means milk mixed with water, in other words "thin milk", or nowadays skimmed milk
Hyytiä/Hytiä - Sounds to my ear like "freezing", because hyytyä = freeze/congeal/coagulate hyytävä = freezing etc. Probably a derivative of those words.
Eva - I've never heard this one as a surname before, but neva = bog or swamp, and Eeva is a common female first name
Tirri - Savonian people have used this word from a greasy pig roast, or strips of pork cooked in it's own grease. (Kinda like bacon, but thicker and tougher) But I'm not sure if it has that same etymology as a name.
Lattin/Lattuin - Not sure, sounds pretty strange to me. But words lattia = floor, lati = old word for "coin", lastu = chip, and lätti = pigsty come to my mind. I've also heard of the old surname Lattu but I don't know what it means.
Peldoin/Peldoinen - I believe you mean Peltoinen? That would mean someone from a field, or a place where there are lots of fields. (a place full of farms, in other words) Or it could be that the spelling was indeed Peldoinen, but then it sounds a little estonian, in that case they probably had some eastern heritage or something. Normal Finnish words have T instead of D.
Pohjalain - In this case I believe the name is Pohjalainen, since Pohjalainen is a surname still in use and somewhat common today, but "pohjalain" sounds really weird, like an unfinished word lacking the last letters. Pohjalainen = someone from the north, "northener". Literally means someone from the northern parts of Finland, like Lapland. Nowadays it's just a name though, and does not necessarily mean that a person is actually from Lapland.
Kallonen/Kalloin - kallo = skull, kallio = solid rock. If used from a skull (like, you find a dead animal's skull and call it "kallonen") kallonen could also be like "little skull" or a "funny"-sounding version of the word. ("skully") But I don't think it works that way as a person's name though. Kallonen could have been a name someone got because he/she had something to do with skulls, or was somehow remembered of something that included a skull of some sort.
Ahtiain - Again, probably Ahtiainen as Ahtiain would sound incomplete. I'm not sure about this name, but I have three theories. Firstly, Ahtiala is an old village in Finland, people have been living in there since the Iron Age. First writings that mention the village are from 1400s and the name of the village is said to be from the 1200s. So the name could simply mean "someone from Ahtiala". Secondly, Ahti is one of the old Finnish gods. A god of waters, like lakes, rivers and seas. He was one of the most important gods, (often even thought to be second or third in importance, topped only by Ukko the supreme sky-god or sometimes also Tapio, the god of the forests) because he decided and granted the luck and success of the fishermen and the ships. The name ahtiainen could have something to do with Ahti, maybe the people using the name were worshipping Ahti as their main god or something. And thirdly, it could be a derivative of the word ahtaa = pack/squeeze. Could be a name given to people who were forced to move to a little area.
Pauku - sounds like a dialect-word that might have same kind of meanings with "paukku" =bang, blob, lump, clump, clot, knot etc. I've heard "pauku" being used that way. Or it could be an old version of pauhu (roar/peal/loud noise or sound) or something similar.
Hatacka - Hatacka sounds foreign but hatakka is a surname still in use. Not sure what it means, because it isn't a modern word and I've never heard it being used in speech but it sounds to me like it has a meaning of "rush", "fast" or "busy".
Lemmytt - Probably Lemmitty, means "loved-one".
Hämäläin - again, lacking the last letters -en. Hämäläinen would be "someone from Häme". Häme is one of the provinces of Finland. Hämäläinen is still a common surname, I know a bunch of people by that name. My biology teacher is named Hämäläinen.
Toricka - today the spelling would be Torikka. Quite a common Finnish name. I have heard that it is an old word that meant a market vendor, someone selling their goods on the marketplace. (tori = marketplace, torikka = "someone who spends a lot of time in the marketplace"/works in the marketplace)
Heickoin - I've never heard this one before, but "heikoin" means "the weakest".
Mendu - Sorry, this I have no idea of. It doesn't sound like any Finnish word I know. Also, Finnish words don't really use the letter D, so it sounds quite foreign and eastern, more like karelian or estonian again.
Laitinen - This is a very common name. One of the most common Finnish surnames. There are two theories for the etymology of the name - "laita" (edge/side/border) and "laidun" (pasture). So, it has meant either a person who was living on the edge/border of some place, or a person living near pasture lands.
Nujia - means mace/mallet/club
Löytöin - Löytöinen. I understand it is a name formed from the word "löytö" = find/trove/discovery. Maybe it meant "finder" or "discoverer".
Jäppin - Jäppinen, a common surname in Savonia province. I'm from Savonia myself and I've heard that Jäppinen is somewhat newer name with a biblical origin, that it would be a Savonian version/adaptation of some biblical name, but I don't remember which one.
Nurminen - A name formed from the word nurmi, which means grass. So was used as a name for someone from a grassy place.
Ulkolain - Ulkolainen, means "foreign". Was used as a neutral epithet and is still often used in common language when talking about people from abroad.
I hope you see this and that this might be of some help.
I'm sorry for commenting despite having no definite knowledge but I think the place name Tiilikka might have a Sámi origin? A lot of "strange" Finnish place names do even though it's been studied very little and people often try to invent more Finnish explanations for them (even professionals sometimes). This might be an unconscious attempt to downplay the Sámi influence outside of Lapland (most Finns don't even know that the Sámi people used to inhabit all of the modern Finland before we came here. And it makes people uncomfortable.)
Don't take this too seriously, though. I don't have an actual theory of which Sámi word it could be or anything (actually I do but it's stupid and I don't have enough experience of this sort of thing so I should keep my mouth shut). It's just a possibility.
Actually, the suffix -nen indicates that the word is an adjective.
For example resu (a rag) would be transformed into an adjective by adding the suffix "inen" like this --> resuinen (raggy)
So for example the last name "Tamminen" means "oaky" (tammi is finnish for oak)
"ainen", on the other hand, is pretty much the same thing as nen/inen. However, it has an extra-twist to it: "inen" is commonly used to refer to someone coming from somewhere or belonging somewhere. For example: ranskalainen (French), lukiolainen (an upper secondary school student) and koululainen (a school kid). Thus, for example the last name Ristolainen (Risto is a Finnish male name) means pretty much "someone belonging to a group whose head is someone called Risto).
More than half a century ago I learned that the adjective ending is -inen, not -nen. I believe it hasn't changed.
Instead, the ending -nen means something small, for example kukkanen = pieni kukka = a small flower.
Separate names with a comma.