Russian Names Research

by HL Sofya la Rus
Dvorianka Sofya Jakovleva Kliucheneva

Updated 2 May 2009

On occasion, I have been asked to help research Russian names for SCA registration purposes. I've collected the notes from those little projects here for my own convenient reference. Perhaps you will find them useful, also.

Please see Quick and Dirty Russian Names for a quick overview of period Russian naming practices. For a more thorough reference, go to Paul Wickenden's Dictionary of Period Russian Names. The 3rd edition is a definite improvement over the second edition but is only available in hard copy from Free Trumpet Press, while the second edition is available on-line - Dictionary of Period Russian Names, 2nd Edition. I have a copy of the 3rd edition and am happy to look things up for people.


Given Names

Grishka
    Grishka is a solid Christian name, documented to the first half of the 13th century in Wickenden (if you look for it under Grigorii).

    Now for combining Grishka with Kravtsovich. You will notice that all of the references for the Kravets names are 16th century or later, while Grishka is documented to the early 13th century. This would make them about 300years apart which should be acceptible for registration. (Over 300years and it would be "one step from period practice" aka "a wierdness", but would still be registerable, since there are no other "wierdnesses" in the name.) The version Grishko is documented to exactly the same time period as the Kravets names, but Grishka was probably used then, too, we just don't have a written source for it. The pronunciation of Grishko and Grishka would be identical in many parts of Russia. (You will notice in Wickenden that there are versions of "Aleksandr" spelled "Oleksandr".)


Bynames

Chernobai
    From September 2008 Calontir ILoI
      1: Aleksei Chernobai - New Name & New Device
      Submitter desires a masculine name.
      Client requests authenticity for Russian / Ukraine.
      Language (Russian / Ukraine) most important.
      Culture (Russian / Ukraine) most important.

      Aleksei - Wickenden.
      Chernoe - ibid p 42 (m) 'blackish' eg a patronymic Chernoevich 15th century
      Bai - ibid p 17 (m) peasant in Kholm parish 1598 Olekseiko Bai

      SAKER NOTE: three names listed in documentation - two as submitted. Is this a constructed byname? Can someone support this, please?

    My comments:

    This would be a constructed byname following the pattern here:

      From Wickenden's "Grammatical First Elements and Themes" in his on-line dictionary:

        Chern(yi): black [I would add that this element can also mean dark, or rough - as in "rough draft".]
        Chernoguz (Ivashko Chernoguz, peasant). 1495. [Tup 425]

      Gus or Guz: goose
        Chernoguz (Ivashko Chernoguz, peasant). 1495. [Tup 425]
        Gusak (Stepa Gusak, peasant). Recorded in 1618. [Tup 123]

    The 2nd element of the construction, -bai, is much more interesting.

    From Wickenden's "Grammatical First Elements and Themes" in his on-line dictionary:

      Ba(i) or Va: tell, speak
        Baiboroda (Oksentii Baiboroda). 1406. [Tup 36]
        Balaka (Ivan Balaka Ondreev syn). 15th century. [Tup 38]
        Valit. 14th-15th Centuries. [Art III 67; #130]

    From "Personal Names" in Wickenden's on-line dictionary:

      Bai (m) -- "speak."
        Timofei Bai. Mid 15th Century. [Gra 202]
        Dims: Baiko (Ivashko Baiko, peasant of the Opot'tsk parish). 1498. [Tup 36]

    For further information it helps to realize that baj [бай] not bai [баи], is presumably the root word here, since very few singular Russian nouns end with "и". The pronunciation of the two words is similar. "Й" is pronounced like the y in "boy", and "и" is pronounced "ee". So "бай" is pronounced much like the English word "bye", while "баи" is "bah-ee" and would be the plural of "бай". (The name of the letter й in modern Russian literally means "short и".) Baj is written exactly the same as bai in the Library of Congress transliteration system used by Wickenden. (Which is why I tend not to use it.)

    According to Dal' - an old exhaustive Russian dictionary, available on-line - http://www.slova.ru/ :

      Бай, баиньки, см. баю и баить.
      [Baj, bain'ki, see bayu and bait'.]

      Баить (bait') basically means to speak, to say, to tell, to interpret/explain, etc.
      Баю или бау, бай, баюшки...
      [Bayu or bau, baj, bayushki, preparing for sleep, to rock baby to sleep - i.e. baj as in lullabye. :-)

    Also from Dal':

      Бай, байщик м. ... краснобай.
      [Baj, bajshchik masc. ... chatterbox, storyteller, windbag. Note the form krasnobaj meaning windbag/big talker! :-)

    Furthermore, the word chernobaj actually exists:

    From the Large Soviet Encyclopedia - entry found via Yandex:

      Chernobaj, settlement of urban type in the center of the Chernobaevskij region of Cherkasskoj area in what is now the Ukraine.

    From an archived article of the journal ПРОИСХОЖДЕНИЕ ИМЕН И ФАМИЛИЙ [The Origin of Names and Surnames] #8, 1999 - http://www.nkj.ru/archive/articles/9568/

      ЧЕРНОБАЙ - АНТИПОД КРАСНОБАЯ
      [Chernobaj - antipod of krasnobaj]

      ...У моей жены и у меня редкие довольно-таки фамилии, хотелось бы услышать об их происхождении и толковании. Сначала о себе: родом с Украины...
      [...My wife and I have rather rare surnames, and would like to hear about their origin and meaning. First about us: we were born in the Ukraine...]

      У вас действительно редкая фамилия, и слова чернобай нет в словарях. Попробуем сами восстановить его значение.
      [You have a certainly rare surename, and the word chernobaj is not in dictionaries. We will attempt just the same to establish its meaning.]

      Баить в разных диалектах русского языка значит говорить. Краснобаем называется рассказчик, а также человек, знающий сказки, песни, духовные стихи. Иногда слово баить употреблялось в старинном значении шептать, знахарить, колдовать. Очевидно, в противоположность краснобаю чернобай говорил не о приятных вещах, а может быть, даже и колдовал.
      [Bait' in various dialects of the Russian language means to say. Krasnobaj names a storyteller, and also a person who knows stories, songs, and spiritual verses. Sometimes the word bait' is used in the old meaning to whisper, to witch doctor, to practice witchcraft. Evidently, in contrast to krasnobaj, chernobaj speaks not of pleasant things, but perhaps even of witchcraft.]

    Русские фамилии. Популярный этимологический словарь [Russian Surnames. Popular etymological dictionary] - http://slovari.yandex.ru/dict/fedosjuk/article/surnames/fed-2154.htm

      ЧЕРНОБАЕВ. Краснобай — тот, кто "красно бает", красиво говорит, чернобай — тот, кто "черно бает", то есть бранится, сквернословит.
      Chernobaev. Krasnobaj - one who "nicely baet", nicely speaks, chernobaj - one who "darkly baet", that is...

    Of course, I cannot find a period reference for chernobaj, nor apparently could the submitter who, hopefully, knows something of the above, and had to resort to providing period references for the component parts of his desired name.

    In summary:

      "chern" is documented as a period root in Wickenden, eg. Chernoguz.
      "bai" is documented as a period root in Wickenden, giving Chernobai according to the pattern above .
      Chernobaj is a very interesting real Russian surname with strong Ukrainian connections that cannot be documented as a period name without further research, which should be unnecessary given the documentation of its component parts.

    I found the following information after I submitted the above. I did not bother to add these to the commentary because I have not been able to confirm the info on these webpages, and I didn't think it would help the submission.

    Чорнобай (in the Ukrainian Wikipedia) - http://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A7%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B1%D0%B0%D0%B9

      Назва «Чорнобай» означає, очевидно, прізвище одного з перших поселенців. Імовірно це прізвище татарського походження: бай, в тюркських мовах, багатій, пан.

      Селище Чорнобай виникло в середині XVII століття, як слобода заселена козаками Кропивнянської сотні Переяславського полку. В перших документах Чорнобай згадується 1656 року.

    Родоначальники русских фамилий - http://rodstvo.ru/rus/96.htm

      Черница Александрович Безобразов [см. Безобраз], 1495 г.; у него брат Беляница [см. Беляница]
      Chernitsa Aleksandrovich Bezobrazov [see Bezobraz], 1495 yr.; he has a brother Belyanitsa [see Belyanitsa]

      Чернобаев Иван, крестьянин, 1564 г., Заонежье
      Chernobaev Ivan, peasant, 1564 yr., Zaonezh'e

    - http://www.otvet.ru/surname/onomlist.asp?N=5860&numall=6413

      5862 Чернобаев Чернобаев Александрович Безобразов [см. Безобраз], 1495 г.; у него брат Беляница [см. Беляница]
      Entry 5862 - Chernobaev - Chernobaev Aleksandrovich Bezobrazov [see Bezobraz], 1495 yr.; he has a brother Belyanitsa [see Belyanitsa]
      But see Chernitsa above.

    Genealogy Forum Entry on 28.8.2006 by Irina Chernobaeva - http://r-g-d.ru/forum/index.php?showtopic=1056

      Как выяснилось, фамилия ЧЕРНОБАЙ,(Чернобаев-производная) уходит корнями в половецкие земли. Нашими предками были ПОЛОВЦЫ (кипчаки, куманы) - средневек. тюркояз. народность, обитавшая в 10-13 вв. в южнорусских степях и Средней Азии, от зап. отрогов Тянь-Шаня до Дуная. Распавшись на ряд племён, вели кочевой образ жизни. В сер. Х в„ перейдя вслед за торками-огузами Волгу, хлынули в степи Сев. Причерноморья и Кавказа. Огромная терр. от зап. отрогов Тянь-Шаня до Дуная, занимаемая Половцами, называлась в XI - XV вв. «Дешт-и-Кыпчак» (Половецкая земля). У Половцев не сложилось единого гос-ва. В XI - XIII вв. у них имелись отдельные племенные союзы во главе с ханами. Осн. занятием Половцев оставалось скотоводство, но в XII в. в Половецкой земле существовали города, в состав населения которых, наряду с аланами, булгарами, русскими и др., входила и часть Половцев. Восточные (заволжские) Половцы были тесно связаны со Сред. Азией, особенно с Хорезмом. Западные Половцы находились в постоянных сношениях с Русью, Византией, Болгарией, Венгрией. Впервые упом. рус. летописями под 1054. Вскоре после этого начались набеги Половцев на раздробленную Русь, отдельные князья которой в своих личных целях заключали союз с Половцами и помогали им грабить земли своих противников. В 1103 и 1113 годы Святополком Ярославичем и Владимиром Мономахом были совершены победоносные походы на Половцев которые в итоге отошли дальше от рус. земель и длит. время не тревожили Русь своими набетами. Рус. князья привлекали Половцев к участию в своих усобицах и роднились с половец, ханами. Со .г-й пол. XII в. набеги вновь усилились, однако рус. дружины с успехом сдерживали их натиск. Во время 1-го похода монголо-татар в Вост. Европу (1223) Половцы предав своих союзников - алан, были разгромлены татарами сначала на Сев. Кавказе, а затем и в битве на Калке. Вост. Половцы (кыпчаки) влились в состав монголо-татарского войска. Они составили оси. часть населения Золотой Орды, ассимилировали небольшую группу пришедших сюда монголов и передали им свой язык. Путем объединения кочевых западных кыпчаков (половцев), переселившихся в южные районы Восточной Европы в середине ХI в., и прибывших с монголами тюркоязычных татар, известных в Тюркском каганате еще с 552 г., в Золотой Орде шло формирование единой татарской народности. Зап. группа половцев (собственно Половцы) при нашествии Бату-хана откочевала сначала в Венгрию, затем в Болгарию и там растворилась среди местного населения. Есть и другая версия происхождения половцев. Польская история утверждает, что “Половцы были разбойные люди, происходящие из готов (!)”:О радости готов по случаю половецкой победы говорит и “Слово о Полку Игореве”. Однако, в этом нет ничего странного, поскольку слово “готы” означало “идолопоклонники” (см. статью “Древнее” и средневековое народонаселение Европы и его правители”). И некрещеные предки поляков, поляки-язычники – это тоже половцы, страна которых и называлась по-латыни Полония, т.е. Польша. Вот такие средневековые, неизвестно куда сгинувшие, “половцы”. И как тут не вспомнить храброго Мстислава из “Слова о Полку Игореве”, зарезавшем “половца” с русским именем Редедя перед “полками Касожскими”, т.е. адыгейскими, т.е. черкесскими, т.е. казацкими. В районе Черкасс(корень – от «черкес») до сих пор фамилия Чернобай очень распостранена. Есть город Чернобай в Черкасской области, поселок Чернобай) Фамилия Чернобай явно кыпчакового происхождения, примерное время возникновения рода - со времен, когда половцы уже вошли в состав Золотой Орды. В русских летописных источниках впервые упоминалась с 15 века.


    Kravtsovich

      Kravtsovich is derived from Kravets, which comes from the verb kroit' (to cut or cut out) according to my dictionaries. The -ovich form was favored in Novgorod and Pskov but in the 16th century was restricted to the highest boyars and church dignitaries, and the privilege was bestowed by the tsar, himself. (See Wickenden's Grammar section under patronymics). I've never heard of the College of Arms determining that the -ovich form was presumptuous, though. The more typical patronymic form according to the grammar rules, albeit not listed in Wickenden (see below), would be Kravtsev, which doesn't have the same ring to it as Kravtsovich. It is in the on-line version (2nd edition) of Wickenden's Dictionary of Russian Names, but it is also in the 3rd edition, p. 168:

      Kravets (m) "tailor"

        Sidor Kravets. 1590.
        Dim: Gerasim Kravchik. Recorded 1600.
        Vars: Wasko Krawiec. 1558. Duda Krawiecz. 1558. Mykolay Krawyecz. 1552-4. (obviously from Polish sources - basically all equivalent to "Kravich")
        Pats: Levon Kravtsovich. Recorded in 1567.
        Pat Vars: Evstafii Kravchikov. 1585.

      The term for "tailor" in modern Russian is portnoi. The 3rd edition of Wickenden gives Portniagin as a 1621 byname. There are probably other options equivalent to "seamstress".

      All this means that Kravtsovich is a perfectly fine occupational byname, but you have other options. Oh, and I suspect that it should be pronounced Krahf-TSOH-vich. But I've been wrong before. :-)

      Now for combining Grishka with Kravtsovich. You will notice that all of the references for the Kravets names are 16th century or later, while Grishka is documented to the early 13th century. This would make them about 300years apart which should be acceptible for registration. (Over 300years and it would be "one step from period practice" aka "a wierdness", but would still be registerable, since there are no other "wierdnesses" in the name.) The version Grishko is documented to exactly the same time period as the Kravets names, but Grishka was probably used then, too, we just don't have a written source for it. The pronunciation of Grishko and Grishka would be identical in many parts of Russia. (You will notice in Wickenden that there are versions of "Aleksandr" spelled "Oleksandr".)

    Popriadukhina

      Popriadukhina - Wickenden, "Dictionary of Period Russian Names" notes the following on p 276 Popriadukhin (1593) meaning spinner.

      Saker Note: I assume the occupational name is feminized by adding -a to the occupation, much like feminizing a patronymic.

      Response: That would be an incorrect assumption. Feminine Russian occupational names usually end in -a, but not usually by simply adding -a to the masculine form. For example, in modern Russian, a spinner is priadil'shchik, the feminine form of which is priadil'shchitsa (masculine "-ik" ending removed and feminine "-itsa" ending added). Shepherd - pastukh", shepherdess - pastushka.

      In this case, the original occupation is Popriadukha, which becomes the masculine patronymic Popriadukhin following the standard rules for names ending in -a (in Wickenden's Grammar). The feminine patronymic is then formed as usual by adding -a to the masculine form giving us Popriadukhina, which is exactly the form documented on p 276 - Avdot'ia Popriadukhina, serf. 1593, which is clearly a woman's name. Interestingly, while I could only find popriadukha in one of my Russian dictionaries, that dictionary indicates that a popriadukha is a skilled spinner, not just a ordinary spinner (who would be a priakha, priadil'shchik/priadil'shchitsa).


Selected References:

Dal', V.I. Словарь Даля - Exhaustive Dictionary of the Russian Language.
Eastern Orthodox Saints' Lives //www.orthodox.net/links/saints-by-name.html
Greek Orthodox Calendar of Saints' Days //www.goarch.org/eu/chapel/calendar.asp
Omniglot, a guide to written language. //www.omniglot.com/writing/cyrillic.htm
Paul Wickenden of Thanet, Dictionary of Russian Names. //www.sca.org/heraldry/paul
Paul Wickenden of Thanet, The Russian Archive. //www.goldschp.net/archive/archive.html
Paul Wickenden of Thanet, Spelling Russian Names in Period English. //www.goldschp.net/archive/fletcher.html
Predslava Vydrina, Russian Personal Names: Name Frequency in the Novgorod Birch-Bark Letters //www.s-gabriel.org/names/predslava/bbl
Sofya la Rus, Spelling Russian in Period English. //www.strangelove.net/~kieser/Russia/spelling.html
Yandex. Яндекс Словари. - excellent on-line Russian dictionary/translator
Comments or questions? sofya@heraldshill.org
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