A primer on Slovakian names

Just FYI: Though there will be a fair amount of overlap between this post and my previous post about Czech names, there will be still be differences. Contrary to popular perception, Czechs and Slovaks aren’t one and the same, just as Russians and Ukrainians aren’t one and the same in spite of their geographical proximity and similar languages.

As I’ve stated many times before, I’m very proudly one-quarter Slovakian, or Hunky, as we’re also called. I’m so privileged as to live in a time and place where that former slur has been reappropriated as a positive term of endearment instead of used as a cruel, hateful, menacing, abusive word. No one’s ever called me a dumb Hunky. The Czech and Slovak languages are at least 90% mutually intelligible, but again, we’re still different peoples.

Božidar Brinarsky, the progressive, left-handed tutor in my second and third Russian historicals, is half-Slovenian, half-Slovakian. Mr. Brinarsky was a schoolteacher in Slovenia for 15 years, taught in various Manhattan schools after immigrating in 1913, and ends up as the home tutor to three of my left-handed characters. Fedya and Dmitriy are lefties from birth, but Violetta is rendered a lefty after her polio ordeal. Her right arm isn’t paralyzed, but it’s too weakened to use anymore. Mr. Brinarsky also teaches Ivan proper left-handed writing methods, better late than never.

Slovakian alphabet:

Slovakian uses the Roman alphabet, with a few extra additions: Č (like the Russian CH and Polish CZ), Š (Russian SH and Polish SZ), Ž (Russian ZH), Ď d’ (DY), DZ, DŽ, Ĺ, L’ (LY as in “million”), Ň (like the Spanish Ñ or Italian GN), Ŕ (a trilled R), and Ť ť (TY). CH is pronounced like the guttural sound in loch or Chanukah, C is pronounced like the Russian TS, and J is of course pronounced like a Y.

Slovakian surnames:

Like many other Slavic surnames, Slovakian surnames too differ by sex. The feminine form is typically formed by adding the suffix -ová, just as with Czech names. If the masculine form ends in Y or Ý, it’s replaced by an Á. Given the region’s history, there are a fair amount of surnames of Hungarian, German, and other ethnic origins, and those names don’t adhere to the native naming conventions.

Surnames can be derived from profession (Rybár [fisher], Mäsiar [butcher], Kľúčiar [key-maker], Sklenár [glass-maker], Mlynár [miller]), adjectives (Malý [small], Čierny [black], Surový [raw]), food (Malina [raspberry], Polievka [soup], Slanina [bacon]), and Nature (Medvedík [little bear], Komár [mosquito], Dolina [valley]). Some names also end in ský/-sky (ská/-ska).

Common Slovakian names and their nickname forms:

Female:

Adriana
Agnesa
Albína
Alexandra (Saša)
Alica
Alojzia
Alžbeta (Eliška) (Elizabeth)
Amália
Anastázia
Anna
Antónia
Apolena
Božena (Divine)
Branislava (Braňka)
Bronislava
Cecília
Danica (Morning star)
Daniela (Dana)
Darina (Gift)
Dominika
Dušana (Soul)
Edita
Emília
Estera
Eva
Gabriela
Hana
Hedviga
Helena, Elena (Alena, Lenka)
Jana (Janka)
Jarmila
Jaroslava
Jolana (Yolanda)
Jozefína
Judita
Júlia
Justína
Kamila
Katarína (Katka)
Klára
Klaudia
Kristína
Ladislava
L’uba (L’ubica) (Love) (Amy)
Lucia
Lýdia
Magdaléna (Alena, Lenka)
Margita, Markéta
Mária (Maja, Marika)
Marta
Martina
Matilda
Melánia
Miroslava
Monika
Nadežda (Hope)
Natália
Nikola
Ol’ga
Olympia
Paulína
Petra, Petronela
Renáta
Romana
Sára
Silvia
Simona
Sofia, Žofia (Soňa)
Stanislava
Štefánia
Svetlana
Tamara
Tatiana
Terézia
Valentína
Valéria
Veronika
Viktória
Vladimíra
Zdenka (Build; Create)
Zlata (Zlatica) (Golden)
Zora (Zorka, Zorica) (Dawn)
Zuzana (Zuza, Zuzanka, Zuzka)

Male:

Adam
Alexander (Aleš)
Alexej (Aleš)
Alojz (Aloysius)
Andrej
Augustín
Aurel
Benjamín
Bohumil (Favored by God)
Bohumír (God is famous/great; God’s peace; God’s world)
Bohuslav (Glory of God)
Branislav (Branko) (Protection and glory)
Ctirad (Willing/happy honor)
Cyril
Dalibor (To fight distance)
Dalimil (Gracious distance)
Daniel
Dávid
Dominik
Drahoslav (Precious glory)
Dušan (Soul)
Eduard
Eugen
Filip
Gabriel
Gregor
Havel
Henrich
Jakub
Ján (Janko)
Jaroslav (Fierce and glorious)
Jonáš
Jozef
Július
Juraj (George)
Karol
Kazimír
Krištof
Ladislav
L’ubomír (L’uboš) (Love and peace)
Lukaš
Marían
Martin
Matej, Matúš (Matthew)
Michal
Mikuláš (Nicholas)
Milan
Miloš (Gracious; dear)
Miloslav (Miloš)
Miroslav (Mirek)
Oliver
Pavol (Paul)
Peter
Radovan
Roman
Slavomir (Slavo)
Šimon
Slavomír (Glory and peace)
Stanislav (Become glory)
Štefan (Pišta)
Tadeáš
Teodor
Tibor
Timotej
Tomáš
Václav (More glory)
Valentín
Vavrinec (Lawrence)
Viktor
Viliam (William)
Vincent
Vladimír (Vlado) (Great/famous rule)
Vladislav (Vlado) (To rule with glory)
Vojtech (Vojto)
Vratislav (To return glory)
Zdenko (Zdeno) (Build; Create)
Žigmund

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3 thoughts on “A primer on Slovakian names

  1. Interesting stuff. My maternal grandparents were Slovakian, although since they adopted my mother I don’t have any Slovak blood myself (as far as I know). I remember a few words they used to say. Doopa (bum), koofee (face), zoobies (teeth).

    Pardon my literal spellings; I never saw these in print.

    Like

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