ul. Żwirki i Wigury


English - American
There is a street in the town I lived in years ago named after these Polish aviators.

Why is the genitive form of Żwirko Żwirki and not Żwirka?
  • You may not have noticed but I wasn't referring to statistics. I mentioned a language rule, and it's irrelevant whether there is one person by that surname or one million.
    I would add that in Polish the persons' names often follow declension patterns other than the common words. To stay within the -ko suffix, let's take a look at the word 'kolanko' which literally means a small knee, but can also refer to a pipe elbow, and a handful of other things. For example:
    • N (sg.): kolanko (to jest kolanko)
    • G: kolanka (nie ma kolanka)
    • D: kolanku (przyglądam się kolanku)
    • N (pl.): kolanka (to są kolanka)
    • G (pl.): kolanek (nie ma kolanek)
    However, if the word is used as a person's name (a journalist, Michał Kolanko, for example) the pattern is different:
    • N (sg.): Kolanko (to jest Michał Kolanko)
    • G: Kolanki (nie ma Michała Kolanki)
    • D: Kolance (przyglądam się Michałowi Kolance)
    • N (pl.): Kolankowie (to są Michał i Adam Kolankowie)
    • G (pl.) Kolanków (nie ma Michała i Adama Kolanków)
    Whatever was the original reason, an obvious benefit is that this way you can immediately tell, whether the word refers to an object or to a person.