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Surname Saturday – Latgalian Surnames

If you’ve been to the Latvian Surname Project, and looked at the map on the front page, you’ll have seen that most of eastern Latvia (Latgale) is blank.

Not anymore!

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to spend time reading a book called Latgaļu uzvōrdi, palames un dzymtas by Leonards Latkovskis. This book, as well as time spent looking at books on Polish and Russian surnames (since these were also adopted by people in Latvia, particularly in the Latgale region), means that I’ve been able to start adding Latgalian surnames to the Latvian Surname Project.

Some particularly interesting ones that the book talks about…

  • LAIZĀNS – a name with Estonian roots with the typical Latgalian ending (-āns). This name comes from the Estonian word “laisk”, meaning “lazy”.
  • CIBULSKIS – written as “Cybuļskis” in Latgalian, it comes from the Polish name Cybulski, which comes from the Polish word “cebula”, which means “onion”. The Latvian version of this name would be Sīpols or Sīpoliņš (diminutive).
  • BONDARENOKS – a name of Belarusian origin, the “-nok” ending is the Belarusian equivalent of Ukrainian “-enko”, which is a patronymic. In this case, the name means “son of a cooper”. Belarusian names can be found amongst ethnic Latvians in some parts of Latgale.

There is still a lot of work to be done in Latgale parishes, since there are still fewer names in the parish categories than for most Vidzeme parishes, but the work is being done. I hope that eventually I’ll have names for each Latvian parish!

1 comment to Surname Saturday – Latgalian Surnames

  • Hilary Landay

    I just found out from a newly discovered second cousin that our Landay ancestors changed their name from Brown when they came to the United States circa 1905. My grandfather, Abraham Landay, was born in Riga circa 1875. What would the name Brown look like in Latvian? Actually, another source shows Abraham’s place of birth as Witebsk. I am hoping that this new information will help me with my research.

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