All Slavic languages: the etymology of "Bakovič"

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Oletta, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    Bakovič is a surname, seemingly Serbian/Croatian, but I need to know the roots of the surname. What does the stem "bak" or "baki" "bako", "baka" mean in your, Slavic, languages?

    Once, a university professor had told my mum that the word was rooted in "baki" meaning "eyes", but unfortunately she died long time ago, and I no longer have an opportunity to ask her what language she had meant.

    The contemporary Polish meaning "baki" does not anything to to with the surname's proper etymology. The proper meaning is Slavic, and if so, it might be rooted in the Polish old word "bakać", which I have found in Aleksander Brückner's (Słownik etymologiczny języka polskiego), meaning "wołać". In the 15 century, for instance, there existed an expression "przez bakliwość" = "z krzykiem". Brückner also mentions Czech "bakati koho k nieczemu" = namawiać.

    I wonder if there are any words in any other Slavic language that might explain the meaning of the surname 'Bakovič", in Polish Bakowicz.

  2. dn88 Senior Member

    Maybe it has its roots in Polish itself, there is a word "baczyć" - which pretty much makes sense in connection with "eyes".
  3. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    ha! yes... thank you...

    ...especially that Brückner says that the word "baczyć" comes from the very word I have searched for "oki"... and as you claim it might have the root only in Polish.... - Brückner "słowo wyłącznie nasze, u innych Słowian nieznane".

    I also know that in the past in Poland it was fashionable to add the ending "-icz"/"-wicz" to surnames, it might have been the case with "Bakowicz", the Polish stem, and the fashionable ending "-wicz")

    but still

    How come is the surname so common in Croatia and Serbia? What does it mean in these languages? Does it also exist in any other Slavic countries?

    A coincidence?
  4. winpoj Senior Member

    "Brückner also mentions Czech "bakati koho k nieczemu" = namawiać."

    Well, perhaps it is due to my lack of education, but I am Czech and never in my life have I heard the verb "bakati". What is it supposed to mean?
  5. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    because Bruckner means the 15/16 century ...

    "namawiać" = přemluvit
  6. winpoj Senior Member

    Oh, I see. However, it seems to have been a low-frequency word even in the old Czech as it can be found neither in my "Malý staročeský slovník" nor in the online dictionary of old Czech (Vokabulář webový).
  7. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    I was about to say that it isn't that common in Serbia and Croatia, but the variety of people found by the Google search proved me wrong. Glancing over those, it seems that it's frequent in Croatian Dalmatia and Dalmatian hinterland ( TO BOLIVIA.htm), and far less in Serbia: by the sound of it, I'd say that (at least) that branch originates from inland Montenegro.

    The origin of many Serbian and Croatian surnames is unclear: until the 19th century, peasantry had volatile or arbitrary surnames, sometimes merely patronymic or tribal, and only then they were forced to pick one and stick to it by the administrative actions by Austro-Hungarian and Serbian authorities. For example, my own surname Dujić, allegedly (family hearsay, y'know) comes from a grandma Duja, which was the oldest family member when the family, previously Novaković, was forced to run from one place to another after a member committed a crime against Turkish authorities; changing the surname was a means to hide the trail.

    In the case at hand, I'd venture a guess that it stems from the personal name Bako; it's not common today anymore, but it probably was in Dalmatia and Montenegro at the time. It's quite likely that Bakovići of Dalmatia and Montenegro aren't related at all, and that the surname evolved independently at two locations.

    You can get more info at e.g. the site of Serbian Genealogical Society; I haven't found a trace of Baković there though, but AFAIK they're willing to investigate.

    FWIW, the Dalmatian branch of the surname seems to be fairly ancient: in (PDF, you have to rename it), it's mentioned several times:

    "Zanimljivo je da baš u Cetini nalazimo Bakoviće, koji su na tom prostoru
    živjeli prije 1604." [117]

    (It's interesting that just in Cetina we find Bakovići, who lived in that area before 1604.)
  8. Glitz Member

    UK/Croatia - English, Hrvatski
    Baka/bakica means grandma/nanny in Croatian
  9. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    1. to winpoj - the word must have been used within the Czech - Polish border areas...

    2. to Glitz - thank you! I intend to study Croatian, thh word will be a good start for me... (but if only I had more time!)

    3. Duya - your post is very valuable for me! Thank you for your effort and so long an answer! It fascinates me....

    In my Internet searches I have already come across the Emigrants list, but the two other links give me new information.

    I thought the surname was quite common in Serbia since this summer I travelled across Serbia and Montenegro and while travelling various people told me Baković was a typically Serbian surname. I had thought, having searched the Internet, it was rather the Croatian surname, however. A gentelman on a train told me his neighbour was Baković, five other ladies on another train told me they knew many Baković families. They suggested I should search for it in the yellow pages, but I didn't have a chance to do it then. All these people ruined my ideas on the surname being Croatian. They told me I was Serbian, for sure etc, : ).

    In spring this year I was in Essen where I met some Croatians who, on the other hand, told me that in the city of Varazdin there lived many people sharing the surname.

    It might have been that my family surname, Baković, developed on its own in Poland. But I claim that it isn't so. There's no doubt some mystery about it. I have analyzed the physical features of my family members, one of whom is 100 years old, and they look very much Croatian or Serbian or Montenegrin... as men in the family have characteristic black hair and suntan complexion. Many of us love Serbian/Croatian music, we somehow think warm about this very area of Europe.

    I have the family tree up to the 18 century, since the 18 century the family lived in Poland, but earlier they were located in Lithuania, so they could have come to Lithuania from the Balkan territories just as you have mentioned because of some reasons....

    I have also searched for the "bak" stem in the Latin dictionary, where I found "baca, bacca" - meaning "a berry" and a "pearl".
  10. dudasd

    dudasd Senior Member

    According to many sources, surnames like Baković, Bakotić and "Bakočević" seem to have a very interesting meaning. :)

    In Montenegro and some parts of Hercegovina and the Dalmatian coast, there is a verb "bakočiti se" - it's rather hard to translate it, but maybe I could say: "to perk and be ready for fight". In the Dictionary of personal names in Yugoslavia by M. Šimundić, there are no mentions of names starting with "Bak-". But from the literature we know for the nicknames made of the verb "bakočiti se" (including the famous novel "Bakonja fra Brne" by Simo Matavulj), usually given to mischievous children. The etimology (according to etymologyst Petar Skok) is most probably the word "bak" - a local variant of "bik" (bull). So "Bako", "Bakonja", "Bakota" etc. is a guy who is behavig like a young bull - looking for the ocassion to show his strength and to start a fight. But given the fact that the bull fights (competitions whose bull is stronger) were not unknown in some of those areas, it can have a positive conotation as well - mischievous but strong! :)
  11. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    wow! dudasd, thanks a lot, it gives another insight to my search for the meaning, and it's really interesting... bak, as a bull.... it has something in it...
  12. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    Ah, didn't know that... the "modern" variant is "k**čiti se" :p.

    Yes, that makes sense; "Bakonja fra Brne" struck my mind but, as I haven't read it, I thought that Bakonja was a name, not an adjectival noun. Another remnant of the old word is probably "bačila", which means, um... I don't know, something related to extensive cattle-breeding.
  13. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    Extensive cattle-breeding... hmmm how do you understand it? (breeding in large numbers?)
  14. dudasd

    dudasd Senior Member

    Bačilo or bačija is a complex of pastures, huts and paddocks on a mountain, where owners (or payed servitors) spent long months with big herds, because of the grass. Derived verb: "bačijati".

    The very word is of ancient Balkan origin and was adopted by Slavs only later. We took it from Albanians / Wallachians / Zinzars and the similarity with "bak" is coincidental.
  15. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    I see, thanks.
  16. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    No, "extensive" agriculture is the opposite of the "intensive" one, i.e. it refers to small crops or farms scattered over vast areas of land (esp. mountainous areas). See

    Dudasd, thanks for the answer. The more common synonym is "katun".
  17. OldAvatar Senior Member

    I believe in this explanation. In Romanian, baci means shepherd (used in Hungarian, too, bácsi). However, there is another word, Bâc, which still exists in some Romanian regions and may be connected with baci. Its meaning is father, master. Also, Bâcu is a common surname and exists in Aromanian too. It is considered to be of local origin, but who knows... There are also many toponymes, many villages with the name Bâcu, or even an ancient fortress, Dăbâca, meaning something like (town) of the father, (town) of the master in Old-Romanian.
    Considering that the word is an ancient one, I assume it may be of Turkik, probably Cumanic origin. Bakal, for example, as far as I know, in some Turkic languages, means rum (sheep male).

    Best regards!
  18. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    thanks Duya (I thought you meant cattle breeding rather than farming in general) and OldAvatar! the whole thread is very interesting to me, thank you all for your answers!

    OldAvatar, what is the pronunciation of "â"in "Bâc"? And of both "ă" and"â" in "Dăbâca"?
  19. OldAvatar Senior Member

    Your are welcome! However, I'm not sure if my contribution is really a good one, but could be a path to further searching.

    â and ă are pronounced as follows (sorry, I don't know the Polish equals):

    â = ы (in Kirillic alphabet), I guess it is y in Polish, if I'm not mistaken
    ă = ъ (in Kirillic alphabet), like e from English the, for example
  20. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    yes, it has, for me it is very interesting, as in general I am interested in languages...

    yes "ы" is equal to "y" in Polish,

    but do you mean the Russian "ъ"? If so, it isn't for sure the "the" sound, "th" is pronounced "ð", like in Icelandic "hlið", or "ð" in accordance with the English phonetic transcription. As far as I know, "ъ" in Russian is the "hard sign", did you mean the hard sign, then?
  21. OldAvatar Senior Member

    I didn't mean the hard sign. It is a vowel, that's why I said like e from English „the”. I wasn't talking about „th” :).
    ă is like the first vowel from България, for example, right after the initial letter :).
  22. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    For whatever it is worth:
    "Bakala - od bakati = fákati, odtud v dětské mluvě bakaný, bekaný = zamazaný. Osada Bakov "

    The website is dedicated to the origin of last names. "Bakala" comes from "bakati", which means "fákati", from here in childspeak "bakaný, "bekaný" - dirty, soiled. There's a village called Bakov.

    I don't have the slightest idea what "fákati" means. I have never seen "bekaný" either but I am familiar with "bakaný" - ugly, nasty in childspeak.
  23. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    hmm, so it's "ə" like in the phonetic transcription of the English language...!! :) I don't know Bulgarian, or my knowledge of Russian isn't enough to know about "ъ" sounding "ə".

    thanks Jana337, the Czech meaning is similar to the Silesian children's' talk as well, but is slight different "zbeczany" = zapłakany
  24. dudasd

    dudasd Senior Member

    In South Slavic area verb "bakati" is uknown, and isn't related to "bak", "bakočiti se" and derived nicknames/surnames. But it leads to an interestring digression that maybe deserves a separate thread.

    Generally, in spite of having rich assortment for different nuances of "dirt", seems that Slavs are inclined to adopt foreign words as euphemisms. For example, in "children language" of Balkan countries we mostly use Greek word "kaka" (bad, unpure, like in "cacophony") for excrement, with derived verb "kakiti" or "kakati", but the adjective "kakan/a/o" means "dirty, not good for touching". That makes me speculate (but only speculate) about "bakati" and "bekany" - sounds very similar to Turkish word "bakiye" from Arab root "baqiyya", meaning "residuum" (root *bqy). Toponyms derived from nouns meaning "dirt", "mud" are very common in all Slavic areas (Balaton, Blate, Glibovac, Kaona=Kalna etc.), so I wouldn't be surprised if "Bakov" meant "muddy place". And about "bakaný" being borrowed from Turks - your opinion?
  25. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    it's quite probable, dudasd...

    I searched for some "bak" word in the Turkish dictionary just out of curiosity:
    1. to look at; to gaze at; to look; to gaze.
    2. (for a place, a building) to face, overlook, look out on, or have a view of.
    3. to look after, take care of (a child, a sick person, a thing).
    4. to look to, depend upon (someone) (for nurture and material support).
    5. to look (someone, something) over, have a look at, take a look at, examine, check, check out; to test, try.
    6. to attend to, tend to, see to, mind etc...

    and it's funny as in old Polish "baki" meant "eyes"....
  26. dudasd

    dudasd Senior Member

    In "bakmak", "bak-" is a pure Turkish root (not Arabic or Persian); in Montenegro it was used (probably not anymore) in its optative form "baka" (instead of imperative "bak!") as exclamation meaning "Look!".

    But there are some more information on "bak" and its derived words amongst South Slavs, with names of etymologists and linguists who documented them (with as accurate translation of quotations as I can manage).

    - Diminutive "bačić" (Stulić): small, young bull; also surname Bačić at Croatian coast.
    - Augmentative "bakonja" (Stulić): big bull; "metaphorical humoristic meaning 'a strong man, man of a high rank'".
    - Adjective "bakov" (Skok): bull's.
    - Derived noun from "bakov": "bakovina" (Skok) - plants viburnum lantana and salix vitellina (relation unexplained).
    - Qualificative adjective "bakovit" (V. Karadžić): like a bull.
    - Parallel word in foreign languages (Skok): only in Furlanian baco: "uomo corpulento, grasso soverchiamente" (almost the same definition as Stulic's definition of "bakonja")
    - Denominal "obakoviti" (Skok): in Dalmacija, "to become as hard as bull hide".

    Common assumption: Bak becames, through inflection, from pra-Slavic *bъkъ that diverged to bik, byk, bak. Ie (onomatopoeical) root *bu- , verb bukatь(to bellow), abstract noun buka (noise), probably buk (waterfall). (Note: inflections ъ>y>u, ъ>y>i, ъ>a are amongst the most common ones in Slavic languages.)

    My notes:
    - surnames of Bak-group are older than existance of Turkish language in these areas, so Turkish influence is practically excluded.
    - "bakulja" - sometimes given as name for a cow. (Though V. Karadžić gives it as "white layer under tree bark, especially oak", meaning unexplained.)
    - diminutive "bače" (neutrum) - "little bull", source: Petar Kočić, story "Jablan", in a quoted traditional song ("Oj lige, dolo-lige, jače moje malo bače...") - possible derived Croatian surname Bačić (rather than from "bačija").

    There is another (older) group of borrowed South Slavic bak- words, like "bakva", "baklja", "bačin", "baćun", "bačilj" etc., meaning "container" (in range from vat to flagon) are of Roman/Mediterranean origin (lat. bucar, bacarium, ital. bacara (wine container), iber. bacca (wine), maybe related with Bakhos), but can't be related with Baković, Bakotić, Bačić, Bakonjić etc. because common Slavic inflections don't support such a divergence.
  27. tkekte Senior Member

    It could be borrowed into Polish from Turkish (Ukrainian as proxy).

    I wanted to post about this earlier
    Brückner is wrong. :p

    Бачити [baczyty] is the most common Ukrainian word for "to see". Parts of Ukraine used to be under Turkish rule for a long time... maybe this word was borrowed from the Turks and then brought to Poland by Ukrainian immigrants?
  28. Oletta

    Oletta Senior Member

    I can't find a proper words to thank you dudasd !!!! and tkekte..Will try to respond to your posts when I find some more time.

    Languages are wonderful, and indulging into the MEANING of certain words, their origin is comparable to detective searches.

    Nice to read that the word Бачити exists in Ukraine!!!
  29. KnezIvan New Member

    Very interesting theme.
    My father surname and my mother surname have -bak in it. For example father and my surname Andabak, and from my mother side Bakota. I have master's degree in History and Ethnology so naturally i was interested in my own heritage. While i was researching my family backgrounds i found that both of side families have their own family myths about their surname. Father side said that it had connections with bulls and oxes. In past (4-5 generations ago), father side of family (Andabak) were cattle herder. When i talked with my grandad he said to me that old word for bull/bik (croatian/slavic) was bak. So he was aware about the meaning of the word. Family traditon about surname is saying that Andabak is connected with bak/bik. Even today i could hear bak instead of bik. Story is more interesting after i have contacted linguistic expert. He said to me that my surname could be combination of venetian word for go in imperativ plus slavic word for bull. My ancestors have indeed sell their bulls to Venetians and other merchants. This surname is very young. Before 1812./1813. it was a nickname in my family. My ancestors before 1812. were Rogulj also known as Andabak (in archives in churches "Rogulj drugačije Andabak"). If it was a nickname it could be possible that had some connections with people jobs or other things. Kovač/Smith, Glavaš/Bigheaded :) etc.
    Regarding Bakota. You wrote a lot of things regarding word bak so i have not to add anything special. They are from Dalmatian hinterland, they "know" that they have some connections with the word bull/bik/bak.
    "guy who is behavig like a young bull - looking for the ocassion to show his strength and to start a fight" description with the most sense for me.
    In folk poetry can be found a Turk named Bakota. His discription fit the description mentioned above. That Turk is mentioned in battle between Turk Bakota and croatian hero Miloš under the city of Klis.
    I hope this can help someone.

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