Sorbian: Names Ending in -o


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I believe characters in Krabat by Preußler are given Sorbian names. E.g., Hanzo, Kubo, Juro. I'm wondering where the ending -o come from. If possible, I'd also like to know what they mean. Other names like Lyschko, Staschko, Irko may have hypocoristic suffix -ko (Mirko is derived as a peaceful person), but the first three cannot be this.

Thanks in advance.
  • jasio

    Senior Member
    Makes sense, since - as far as I am aware - the story is located in Lusatia inhabited by the Sorbians. The -o and -ko suffixes are or were known in other Lechitic languages (in Polish at the least), so the assumption that the names come from the Sorbian language is quite feasible. Besides, the names have some resemblance to existing Polish names.
    • Hanzo - this does not seem to sound Slavic to me, but resembles Honza - a diminuitive of Jan used in Czech. Both are probably influenced by a German diminuitive of Johann (Hans).
    • Kubo - looks like Kuba, a diminuitive of Jakub (Jacob), still used in modern Polish
    • Juro - resembles Ukrainian Jurko, ie. diminuitive of Jerzy (George)
    • Lyschko - doesn't resemble any name to me, only a common noun meaning spoon ("łyżka" in Polish)
    • Staschko - is certainly a diminuitive of Stanisław (Staszko in old Polish and Staszek in modern Polish; note that the German "sch" and Polish "sz" basically denote the same consonant)
    • Irko - looks like a diminuitive of Ireneusz, or "Irek" in modern Polish (Irenaeus)
    • Mirko - a diminuitive of Mirosław (Mirko in old Polish and Mirek in modern Polish),
    Note that albeit the latter is derived from "the one who praises the peace" (from "mir" - "peace" and "sław" - "to praise" in Slavic languages) or "is praised for bringing the peace", it has nothing to do with the characteristic of the name bearer. Just like the name "Christoph" which comes from Greek "Christophoros" - the one who is bearing the Christ - in fact does not mean that the person is particularly religious. Of course in literature it's different and it's not unusual to give the characters the names which refer to their role in the narration or describe them.

    Similarly Stanisław (Staszko) comes from "stan" - "to become" and "sław" - and can be understood as "the one to become famous". Both of these names come from pre-Christian times, they were and still are very popular.

    Also note that albeit all the names you listed sound hipocristic, it actually says next to nothing about the bearers' age or social status. Compare to "Joe", "Bill", or "Johnny" in modern English. They are commonly used and one "Bill" (short for 'William') was even a president of the US. To my ear it only give a sense of being among good friends, nothing more (albeit I have also an impression that at the time the story is located these forms were more commonly used, and the full names were kind of reserved for official situations). I recall quite a bunch of similar names - "Janko", "Zbyszko", "Jurko" - from classical literature set in old times, and there are also modern names that take this form (Mirko Filipović – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia), so I suppose that it's an old Slavic - and perhaps pan-Slavic - way of creating diminutions.

    PS. I do not speak Sorbian, so please take my notes with a grain of salt.
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    Senior Member
    Properly speaking, these -o and -ko are not separate suffixes: they are emphatic forms of the ordinary Slavic masculines rendered as neuters (in most Slavic languages) or a-nouns (in Standard Russian and many dialects). The declension of these o-nouns is the same as in masculines except in the nominative singular (that is Juro, Jura etc., Jurko, Jurka etc.; in Russian respectively as ordinary a-nouns: Jura, Jury etc., Jurka, Jurki etc.).