A primer on Medieval Slavic names

In the Middle Ages, there were many Slavic tribes across a wide stretch of land. A large portion have long since been consigned to the history books, but a fair number live on in their descendants.

From these disparate tribes came modern-day Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Bulgarians, Moldovans, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Sorbians (mostly found in Germany today), Goryuns (a minority group in Ukraine), Silesian Germans, Kashubians (an ethnic group in Poland), Moravians, and Croatians.

Some of the extinct tribes also lived on lands which are today part of Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Hungary, and Bosnia.

Linguistic history:

Until about 500 CE, there was a Proto–Slavic language, descended from Proto–Balto–Slavic and ultimately Proto–Indo–European. Then, by the 7th century, it splintered into many dialects. When Orthodox Christians were compelled to use Church Slavonic, much vernacular was lost.

The Slavic language family eventually broke into East, West, and South branches. Some linguistics believe there also once existed a North branch.


If you can read any of the modern Cyrillic alphabets, you can decipher a good portion of the Early Cyrillic alphabet, which is still used to write Church Slavonic. The trickiest thing is how the letters are formed. It’s more like artsy calligraphy than plain block printing.

It’s quite a bit harder to decipher Glagolitic script, the oldest known Cyrillic alphabet. It was created by Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century. There are almost no letters in that alphabet I can recognize.

History of naming patterns:

In the pre-Christian era, children under the age of 7–10 had “substitutional names” meant to trick evil spirits. This was a result of high childhood mortality. Kids who managed to survive at least to age 7–10 were considered special, worthy of a real name and adult status. This new adult name was bestowed during a ritual haircut.

Non-Christian names were banned by the Council of Trent, but Polish nobility (esp. Protestants) tried to preserve their real names. Commoners mostly chose names from the Church calendar, on which only a handful of Slavic names were represented.

Exceptions were made for names whose meanings referenced God, such as Bogdana, Boguslav, and Bogumila.

Name sources:

Many Old Slavic names contain the elements mir(a) (world; peace), mil(a) (precious), and slav(a) (glory). Names ending in these elements are used by both sexes (with the feminine forms ending in -a). After Christianization, many of these names were replaced by Slavified versions of Greek saints’ names.

Names derived from simple nouns and adjectives were typically used by peasants. Such names include Vesna (Spring), Zora (dawn), Brana (to protect), Plamen (flame), Vuk (wolf), and Mladen (young).

Other single-source names expressed affection, hope, and good wishes for newborns.

Names with two root words were also popular, intended as wishes for newborns. Examples include Zbigniew (to expel anger), Kvetoslava (flower of glory), Rodimir (family peace), and Vratislava (to bring back glory).

Sample names:


Agneszka, Aneszka (Agnes)
Anfusa (Flower)

Bogdana (Given by God)
Bozhena (Divine)

Desislava (Tenfold glory)
Dragoslava (Precious glory)


Lyudmila (Favour of the people)

Militsa (Gracious)
Miloslava (Gracious glory)

Radoslava (Happy glory)
Regelinda (Soft advice)
Rogneda, Ragnedda (Battle advice)

Slavitsa (Little glory)
Stanislava (To become glory)

Tomislava (Torture glory)

Yaroslava (Fierce glory)


Athanasi (Immortal)

Berislav (To gather glory)
Blazh (Sweet, blessed, pleasant)
Bogdan (Given by God)
Bogumil (Favoured by God)
Bogumir (Great God or God’s peace/world)
Boguslav (Glory of God)
Boleslav (Greater glory)
Borislav (Battle glory)
Borisu (Snow leopard, wolf, or short)
Borivoy (Battle soldier)
Bozhidar (Bozho) (Divine gift)
Bratomil (Gracious brother)
Bratoslav (Brotherly glory)
Bronislav (Protection and glory)

Chedomir (Child of peace/the world)
Chestibor (Battle of honour)
Chestirad (Happy honour)
Chestislav (Honour and glory)

Dalibor (To fight from a distance)
Desislav (Tenfold glory)
Dobrogost (Good guest)
Dobromil (Good and gracious)
Dobroslav (Good glory)
Dragomir (Drashka) (Precious glory) (love this name!)
Dragutin (Precious)
Drazhan (Precious)

Gostislav (Glorious guest)

Kazimir (To destroy peace/the world)
Krasimir (Beauty of the world/peace)
Kresimir (Spark of peace; to rouse the world)

Lyubomir (Love of the world/peace)
Lyudmil (Favour of the people)

Mechislav (Sword of glory)
Milivoj (Milosh) (Gracious soldier)
Milodrag (Milosh) (Dear and precious)
Milogost (Milosh) (Gracious guest)
Miloslav (Milosh) (Gracious glory)
Mirche (Peace/world)
Miroslav (Peace/The world and glory)
Mislav (Thought of glory; my glory)
Mstislav (Vengeance and glory)

Ninoslav (Glory now)

Premislav (Glory stratagem)
Premysl (Stratagem, trick)
Pridbor (First battle)

Radomil (Happy and gracious)
Radomir (Happy peace/world)
Radoslav (Happy glory)
Radovan (One who brings joy)
Ratimir (Battle of peace/the world)
Rostislav (Growth of glory)

Samo (Alone)
Slavomir (Glory of the world/peace)
Sobeslav (Glory for oneself)
Stanimir (To become peace)
Stanislav (To become glory)
Svetopolk (Blessèd people)
Svetoslav (Blessèd glory)

Tikhomir (Quiet peace/world)
Tomislav (Torture glory)

Veceslav, Vecheslav (More glory)
Velibor (Great battle)
Velimir (Great peace)
Vitomir (Master of peace/the world)
Vladimeru, Vladimir, Volodimeru (Vova, Volodya) (Famous rule)
Vladislav, Volodislavu (To rule in glory)
Vlastimir (Sovereignty of the world/peace)
Vlastislav (Sovereignty of glory)
Voitsekh (Soldier of comfort/solace/joy)
Vratislav (To return in glory)
Vsevolod (Seva) (To rule all)

Yarognev (Fierce anger)
Yaromil (Fierce and gracious)
Yaromir (Fierce peace)
Yaropolk (Fierce people)
Yaroslav (Fierce glory)

Zbignev (To dispel anger)
Zdislav (To build glory)
Zhelimir (To wish for peace)
Zvonimir (The sound of peace)


A great story marred by little things

(This review of Anna Karenina is edited down from the 2,224-word post I wrote for my old Angelfire site around 2004.)

My translation: 4 stars

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Translation issues, summed up:

The Louise and Aylmer Maude translation is dreadful. They “translate” names, refuse to use superdiminutives like Katyenka and Dolyenka, use inaccurate transliteration (e.g., Alesha instead of Alyosha), use Russian measurements without properly explaining their conversions in footnotes, and employ outdated language like “to-morrow.”

Particularly goofy is when Levin starts calling Kitty “Kate” after he realises she’s a full, mature woman. Did the Maudes think the nickname Katya were too foreign and confusing for Anglophone readers?!

Tolstoy’s actual material:

This book is for the most part very well-written, but there are parts I could’ve done without—Levin diddering about on his estate, shooting birds, mowing grass, planting crops, pontificating about agriculture, philosophy, and religion; Vronskiy’s horse race; the voting; and the death of Levin’s profligate brother.

Anna and Vronskiy are very draw to one another since meeting, dance all night at a ball, and have engrossing private conversations, but we’re given no motivation for their feelings and illicit affair.

Their so-called love story is rather unconvincing, since it doesn’t delve into their motivations or feelings for one another on a deep level. For two people having an affair, we don’t get any insight into their hearts and minds!

I was disgusted Levin is 32 to Kitty’s 18 when the book starts. Kitty’s also in love with 30-year-old Vronskiy, though he doesn’t realise it and breaks her heart by leaving town. However, Kitty and Levin really did seem to be in love later on and trying to make a happy family.

We know Levin loves Kitty and why, but we don’t get any motivation into why she loves him and accepts his second marriage proposal. I don’t buy a teen girl being head over heels for a guy in his thirties.

Levin talks it over with her dad, and decides to show her his diaries before the marriage so she’ll know all of him. In spite of her religiosity, she doesn’t mind he’s an agnostic, but finding out he’s not a virgin makes her weep. Come on, he’s 33 or 34. It’s hard to believe anyone that old would be a virgin.

Kitty’s family and Levin try to set Kitty’s 20-year-old friend Varyenka up with Levin’s 40-year-old halfbrother Sergey. I was supremely glad when Sergey decided against it, wanting to stay true to the memory of a tragic romance.

The title character only occupies about half the book. Levin’s story is an interesting subplot, but I expect a book carrying a character’s name to be mostly about her. Levin is boring when he’s musing about agriculture, religion, philosophy, and politics. He also starts obsessing about how it’d be better if he were dead.

He’d rather live like a peasant than a rich man. At the beginning of the book, he’s resigned from his seat on his local Zemstvo because he’s sick of politics.

Anna goes mad and becomes depressed. She’s shunned and avoided; spoken of as a vile, terrible woman; left hanging by her jerk husband over whether he’ll grant her a divorce; and legally denied rights to her son. Her husband is legally considered the father of the baby she had with Vronskiy, which means he can take her if anything happens to Anna.

Vronskiy is rather insensitive to the entire situation. He isn’t treated like a pariah. He gets to keep all of his old friends and hangouts. People don’t slander him in the streets or run away from him. He doesn’t seem to grasp what all this is doing to her. He thinks she’s selfish and unreasonable to demand he spend more time with her and be considerate of her feelings.

The famous scene with the train only ends Part Seven, not the entire book. For the next fifty pages, Anna’s barely mentioned. We barely gauge anyone’s reactions to what she did.

The ending was a complete cop-out and very disappointing. It’s supposed to tie up Levin and Kitty’s story, with him struggling to overcome his aversion to making a family life over his morbid musings about death and his boring ones about agriculture. However, I don’t buy Levin suddenly having an epiphany and getting religious faith, after spending the entire book as an agnostic.

“One long soundless scream”

In memory of all those whose lives were lost 78 years ago today on Kristallnacht, and at Babi Yar.

I wanted to do a post marking the 75th anniversary of the massacre by Babi Yar, the largest single massacre of the Shoah up till that date (29–30 September 1941). This was also the largest Einsatzgruppen massacre in the former Soviet Union. For the most part, the Jewish communities in the occupied USSR were murdered by mobile killing squads, not in ghettoes and camps.

Historically, there was a lot of anti-Semitism in this part of Europe, so there were many local collaborators, both active and silent. While there were also heroes, the majority didn’t do anything to help or protest. Pointing out widespread anti-Semitism, with deep historic roots, in certain countries isn’t meant to be a bash against them and their people. All countries have black marks in their pasts. Denying or downplaying it is intellectually dishonest.


This order, posted in Ukrainian, Russian, and German around 26 September 1941, read:

All Yids of the city of Kyiv and its vicinity must appear on Monday, 29 September 1941, by 8 o’clock in the morning at the corner of Melnika and Dokterivskiy Streets (near the cemetery).

Bring documents, money, and valuables, and also warm clothing, linen, etc.

Any Yids who do not follow this order and are found elsewhere will be shot.

Any civilians who enter the dwellings left by Yids and appropriate the things in them will be shot.

Copyright Markv at nl.wikipedia; Licensed under the GFDL by the author

The decision to murder all of Kyivan Jewry was made by Major-General Kurt Eberhard, the military governor; SS Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, police commander for Army Group South; and Otto Rasch, Einsatzgruppe C Commander.

The murder itself was orchestrated by an SS Sonderkommando unit (not to be confused with the Jewish Sonderkommando squad, who carried out a brave revolt on 7 October 1944 and risked their lives to take and smuggle out four clandestine pictures in August 1944). SS and SD police, along with local police, assisted them.

Over 30,000 people dutifully reported, far exceeding the five or six thousand initially expected. They truly believed they’d be resettled. Instead, they were ordered, bit by bit, to leave their valuables and money, give up their luggage, and remove their shoes and each layer of clothes.

Given the size of the crowd, not many people suspected their cruel fate until the last moment, when they heard the machine guns. The ravine they were led to is called Babyn Yar in its native Ukrainian, and Babiy Yar in Russian. The standard English transliteration is Babi Yar, which I’m using for the sake of academic consistency.

In all, 33,771 people were murdered over those two days. Only a small minority were able to escape. At least 29 survivors are known. The only survivor to testify by a 1946 war crimes trial in Kyiv was Dina Mironivna Pronicheva, an actor by the Kyiv Puppet Theatre.

Sadly, only 10% (3,000) of the victims have been identified to date.

Memorial by Nachalat Yitzchak Cemetery, Givatayim, Israel; Copyright דוד שי (Dudi [David] Shay)

After the September 1941 massacre, the Nazis and their collaborators murdered over 100,000 other Kyivans by Babi Yar, right up until the Nazis were forced to retreat. They murdered political dissidents, Roma, POWs, and many other civilians. Patients of the Ivan Pavlov Psychiatric Hospital had their ashes dumped into the ravine after being gassed.

A concentration-camp, Syretskyy, was established a few hundred meters from the ravine in 1942, as a subcamp of Sachsenhausen. While the inmates were being forced to cover up traces of the mass grave in August and September 1943, they got hold of tools like screwdrivers, hammers, keys, and pieces of metal.

On the second anniversary of the first massacre, 29 September 1943, the prisoners revolted as the camp was dismantled. They overpowered the guards, and fifteen prisoners escaped. Sadly, the other 311 inmates were murdered once the Nazis regained control.

Ukrainian postage stamp issued for the 70th anniversary in 2011

Some of the souls lost are pictured below. Unless otherwise noted, they were all murdered by the first, largest massacre.


Velvel Valentin Pinkert in 1939


Anna Glinberg in 1935


Grigoriy Shehtman, born 1934


4-year-old Malvina Babat and 3-year-old Polina Babat


Mariya (Manya) Iosifivna Halef in 1936. She was seven when she was murdered.


Manya’s parents, Iosif Halef and Klara Halef-Miropolskaya


Olena Ivanivna Teliha, née Shovgeneva (21 July 1906–21 February 1942), a prominent poet and anti-Nazi activist


Mykhailo Pavlovych Teliha, her husband, 8/21 November 1900–21 February 1942. He played the bandura (a Ukrainian instrument like a zither crossed with a lute) professionally. Rather than take his freedom, he chose to stay with his wife.


Ivan Andriyovych Rohach (29 May 1913–21 February 1942), a prominent poet, writer, political activist, and journalist. He was murdered with his sister Hanna and the entire staff of his newspaper.

Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko’s 1961 poem “Babi Yar” famously begins: “No monument stands over Babi Yar.” It wasn’t until 1976 that a monument was finally erected, only mentioning POWs and Soviet citizens. In 1991, a Jewish memorial finally appeared. Today, many other memorials dot the area.

WeWriWa—Special birthday present


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet immediately follows last week’s, when Igor and the guests at his 19th birthday party enjoyed a lavish feast.


After the table is cleared, Igor and his guests go into the living room to play board games.  Though most of the guests sit on the floor, Violetta has a seat on the davenport, with Luiza and Zoya.  There’s no way anyone could see up such a long skirt anyway, but perhaps this is yet another modesty rule Igor doesn’t know about.  For the sake of appearances, Igor doesn’t invite Violetta to be on any of his teams, and instead lets her play with the other co-eds.  Towards the end of the evening, when it comes time to open presents, Igor likewise saves Violetta’s present towards last.

He breaks into a big smile when he finds a gold-framed miniature of Vasiliy Kondratyevich Sazonov’s famous oil painting The First Meeting of Prince Igor with Olga.  It might be a painting she chose just because it features the original bearer of his name, but perhaps she’s also trying to send him some sort of secret romantic message.  Whyever she chose it, this painting will sure be going on his wall tonight, in a special place of honor right above his bed.


Prince Igor and Princess (later Regent) Olga were the first rulers of the Ryurikovich Dynasty after only Prince Ryurik himself, and Olga was the first of six women to rule Russia to date. Many people only count the four ruling empresses of the Romanov Dynasty, though I also count Regents Olga and Sofya. A Regent is still a ruler, even if she isn’t formally crowned.

A to Z Reflections 2016

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]


Problems/issues encountered:

During the first week, I clicked on a lot of blogs with awesome-sounding titles, only to discover they not only never started the Challenge, but also hadn’t posted anything in at least six months. A number of these bloggers hadn’t posted anything in several years, which makes me wonder why they bothered signing up.

Bloggers who quit participating, without an apology or explanation for why they couldn’t finish or slacked off.

Blogs without an ability to leave comments.


Comments only being approved after moderation. There are better ways to prevent spam, and if you’re worried about nasty, abusive comments, you can set your commenting policy so only people with previously-approved comments bypass moderation. Some of the gender-critical blogs I frequent have such a policy, though others keep to the model of approving every single comment, even after we’ve proven ourselves as good eggs.

A link that was broken.

Having to register to leave a comment. I found a number of such blogs I was ready to comment on, only to discover I had to go through the whole rigamarole of registration with a unique-to-the-blogger commenting service. The only exception I made was for a post with a jaw-droppingly hurtful, offensive, ableist meme with a quote from the always-classy Auti$m $peak$, saying those of us on the spectrum have been “taken away” and need “cured.”

Difficulty finding the actual blog part of a website, or the A to Z posts section. This also goes for blogs with multiple posts a day, without the A to Z post on top.

Posts or pages which were too busy. Sometimes a post would be fairly short, but there were a lot of graphics, links, and thumbnails taking up extra space after the main text. I don’t have time to constantly scroll through all that!

People who only signed up to try to promote a business, and aren’t bloggers at all. For that matter, it’s also super-sneaky to use your theme (0r part of your theme) to promote your MLM. I don’t care about your overpriced nail stickers, weight loss shakes, candles, or clothes from the menopause section marketed to young women!


I wrote my posts well in advance (last May–July), so I’d have plenty of time for going back and editing them multiple times, and wouldn’t have to rush through them last-minute. Several posts originally had additional topics which I decided to delete, since it felt like overload. Deleted topics were diphtheria, the Elephant House at Aleksandr Palace (really disappointed I couldn’t find more information and a decent picture!), and the Pauline Laws.

My N post was originally about Countess Natalya Sergeyevna Brasova, Grand Duke Mikhail’s wife, but it felt like too much of a repeat of his post, since it was mostly about her relationships. The last thing I’d want to do is primarily define a woman by her history of romantic attachments!

I considered other topics for certain letters, but decided against them since I felt they were only tangential to my alternative history (e.g., Sigmund Freud, Queen Victoria, Last Rites). I’d also originally planned to do the Aleksandr Palace for A, but it seemed only natural to start with our hero, the entire reason for the story.

L was the last letter I settled on topics for. Other difficult letters were F, J, R, and the replacement for N. The H, X, and Q topics were pretty much limited, since Russian doesn’t have those letters. It was an obvious given I’d have to do Hemophilia and Grand Duchess Xenia (Kseniya), and luckily, I found a Q name related to Imperial Russian history. Y for Yekaterinburg was also the obvious choice.


Post recap:

Tsar Aleksey II (54 views)
Batumi, Georgia (23 views)
The Cathedral of the Dormition and the Chrysler Imperial Touring (34 views)
The Dowager Empress and the Duesenberg (22 views)
Electrotherapy and Easter (22 views)
The Fyodorovskaya Ikon of the Mother of God (19 views)
The Grand Cathedral of the Winter Palace and the House of Gagarin (14 views)
Hemophilia (19 views)
Prince Igor Konstantinovich and the Iverskaya Chapel (20 views)
The Jordan Staircase and Joy (31 views)
Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger and the Kunstkamera (9 views)
The Lower Dacha of Peterhof and Leo (23 views)
Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich (12 views)
Nevskiy Prospekt (10 views)
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna (22 views)
The Passage and Peter and Paul Cathedral (9 views)
Giacomo Quarenghi (21 views)
The Red Porch, Rochet-Schneider, Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and Russo-Baltique (19 views)
The Semicircular Hall, the Sorbonne, and St. Serafim of Sarov (21 views)
Tsesarevich, Tsaritsa, and Transliteration (17 views)
Uzbek cuisine (23 views)
Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (10 views)
The Winter Palace (34 views)
Grand Duchess Xenia (Kseniya) Aleksandrovna (19 views)
Yekaterinburg, Russia (17 views)
Grigoriy Yevseyevich Zinovyev (16 views)


I have like ten future themes in mind for future Aprils!