Russian surnames in "-oй"

Michael Zwingli

Senior Member
English - American (U.S. - New England)
Hello, and good day.

I find myself curious about the meaning of those Russian surnames with the "-oй"/"-oy" suffix, such as: Бережной, Сухо́й, and most famously Толстой. I believe that the suffix "-oй" allows for the creation of a surname from an adjective, but I am not entirely sure beyond that. There seems to be no cognate to this suffix in Polish, as far as I can tell. Perhaps there is in Bulgarian or Ukrainian, though. Any information that i can have about this seemingly unique suffix and the meaning that it imparts in the creation of a surname will be much appreciated. Thanks much.
 
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    -ой is actually a standard adjectival suffix. It has essentially the same origin as -ый (< *ъj). In modern standard Russian the stressed suffix is always -ой and the unstressed one is -ый (-ий after soft consonants) respectively. .

    (However, one must bear in mind that post-tonic -ой and -ый would be phonetically indescernible, and Church Slavonic, which has heavily influenced Russian orthography, has only -ый regardless of the stress.)
     
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    Vronsky

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    "Сухой" is an ordinary adjective: сухой корм, сухой кашель.

    "Бережной" and "Толстой" are adjectives grammatically, but they are not ordinary adjectives, although they might have been used in the past (they might even be used as adjectives now, but it would be considered as non-standard usage). Their equivalents in modern Russian are "бережный / бережливый"* and "толстый".

    * "Бережной" is also may be a form of "береговой"; I'm not sure about it.
     
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    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    Thanks, fellas.

    "Бережной" and "Толстой" are adjectives grammatically, but they are not ordinary adjectives, although they might have been used in the past (they might even be used as adjectives now, but it would be considered as non-standard usage). Their equivalents in modern Russian are "бережный / бережливый"* and "толстый".
    I assume, then, that the type of adjective created by "-ой/-ый" would have the meaning "pertaining to" or "belonging to" (perhaps among others meanings), much in the same way that "-ius/-ia" the adjectival suffix used by the Romans to create nomen gentilicum (the names of the various gens of Rome) rendered that meaning.
    (However, one must bear in mind that post-tonic -ой and -ый would be phonetically indescernible, and Church Slavonic, which has heavily influenced Russian orthography, has only -ый regardless of the stress.)
    The more I experience Russian, the more I marvel at the nuances of the language. I recently read a novel entitled "The Yid", within which some of the nuances of Russian were evidenced. I have always been hesitant, though, to attempt the systematic study of Russian because of the Cyrillic script; such a study would be my first for a language which employs a non-Latin script, and i am a bit daunted by that...
     

    KatSyKat

    New Member
    Ukrainian
    In the Ukrainian language there is a tradition when adjectives become surnames. Such surnames are of adjective origin. They usually have the following endings: -ий, -ій (masculine) and -a, -я (feminine). For example, Холодний (masculine) or Холодна (feminine), Чепурний (masculine) or Чепурна (feminine).
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    In the Ukrainian language there is a tradition when adjectives become surnames. Such surnames are of adjective origin. They usually have the following endings: -ий, -ій (masculine) and -a, -я (feminine). For example, Холодний (masculine) or Холодна (feminine), Чепурний (masculine) or Чепурна (feminine).
    I may very well be mistaken, but might the Russian cognate of said -ий be -ин, as in Mr. Ulyanov's assumed surname Ле́нин?

    I do like very much the fact that the Cyrillic Alphabet employs symbols for a wider variety of phonemes than does the Latin Alphabet as used in English. In particular, the purist in me dislikes a combination of two consonants to represent a single phoneme, such as English "sh" and "th". That being said, you have no idea how strange it is to see letters like и and я, which make an English speaker feel as if he is viewing the text dyslexically! :)
     

    KatSyKat

    New Member
    Ukrainian
    I may very well be mistaken, but might the Russian cognate of said -ий be -ин, as in Mr. Ulyanov's assumed surname Ле́нин?
    No :) As a rule, Ukrainian ending -ий often corresponds to Russian -ый. Холодний (in Ukrainian) - Холодный (in Russian). The suffix here is -н. Both words mean the same thing. Ленин (in Russian) - Ленін (in Ukrainian). Here we have zero ending. The suffixes -ин(rus) and -ін(ukr) indicate the possessive adjectives.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I assume, then, that the type of adjective created by "-ой/-ый" would have the meaning "pertaining to" or "belonging to"
    It is possible in some cases, it depends on the general morphology. Consider "Дико́й", which would mean simply "Wild" (dialectal, mostly North Russian; cf. Rus. "ди́кий"); "Сухо́й" means "Dry", etc. In general, such adjectival surnames are pretty atypical in Russian.
    I may very well be mistaken, but might the Russian cognate of said -ий be -ин, as in Mr. Ulyanov's assumed surname Ле́нин?
    -Ин is a suffix of possessive adjectives formed from nouns of the first declension paradigm (and possessive adjectives are the main source of Russian surnames). E.g. Lena (a familiar form of Yeléna, i.e. Helen) > Lenin ("Lena's", "one belonging to Lena"). Possessive adjectives don't have the typical -ый/-ий/-ой nominative adjectival inflections attached to them.
    In particular, the purist in me dislikes a combination of two consonants to represent a single phoneme
    I suppose it still beats specifying a consonant phoneme by the following vowel letter, for example. :)
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    Thanks, all. This has been an informative and enlightening discussion.
    -Ин is a suffix of possessive adjectives formed from nouns of the first declension paradigm (and possessive adjectives are the main source of Russian surnames). E.g. Lena (a familiar form of Yeléna, i.e. Helen) > Lenin ("Lena's", "one belonging to Lena"). Possessive
    And here I have always assumed that Mr. Lenin assumed his surname from the River Lena (indicating a desire to include all of Russia through to the Pacific within the new order that he was attempting to create)! That's what I get for making assumptions...
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    And here I have always assumed that Mr. Lenin assumed his surname from the River Lena (indicating a desire to include all of Russia through to the Pacific within the new order that he was attempting to create)!
    Not exactly. There are various versions of this alias origin, but it was just one of more than a hundred of his pseudonyms (Н. Ленин actually), chosen as the main one more or less occasionally.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    And here I have always assumed that Mr. Lenin assumed his surname from the River Lena
    Well, there could be such associations regarding Vladimir Ulyanov's alias, but speaking about the real surname - it just couldn't have such origin, not directly at least (possibly through the moniker "Lena" originating from the river's name, - cf. Volgin, for example, - although the female name is a much more likely source, especially considering that the vicinities of the Lena are poorly populated even now).
     
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