Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Russian Names

About 50% of my friends and acquaintances are not Russian
and most of them do not know Russian culture.
One of the things they ask me about is my name.
"Naming traditions in Russia include three names for each individual: a first name, patronymic name and a surname. The surname is handed down from one generation to the next, as do surnames in many other cultures. The first name is also referred to as the baby's given name, and the patronymic name is a derivative of the father's first name."
~ Love to know baby.
Russian first names have different forms that are used during various situations.
Which is why some of my friends get confused
when they hear my family call me by another name.

The full name is formal and appropriate for official documents.
The short name is familiar and used by family and close friends.
The affectionate name is typically used by grandparents and parents.
The rude name is... well a rude derivative of the first name.
(although not necessary offensive)

Let's take my name as an example:

   Yelena       Lena       Lenchik, Lenochka, Lenoosya      Lenka   

My friends also wonder about my middle name.
They only know a middle name to be a second name,
but in Russian culture we do not have second names.
Instead we have patronymic names.
Meaning our fathers name is part of our middle name.

The fathers first name is given an ending of
-evich or -ovich for males
-evna or -ovna for females.
(the "ch" is pronounced like church not chorus)
Which means, this child "belongs to" [father's first name].

As you noticed there are two options for either name,
Whether a name will have an 'e' or an 'o',
depends on the last letter of the father's first name.
If it is a vowel (or in our case a 'y') then the ending will be evich/evna
If it is a consonant then the ending will be ovich/ovna

My father's name is Yuriy and it ends in a 'y',
my sister and I are female,
so our patronymic names are Yuryevna (Yury+evna)
So both of our middle names are the same,
Meaning both of us belong to Yuriy, our dad.
And my brothers' patronymic names are Yuryevich (Yury+evich)
So all 4 of my brothers have the same middle names.

And if the father's name ends in a consonant like Oleg,
which is my father-in-law's name.
The sons' patronymic names would be Olegovich,
So Mr. Chickadee and his brother's are Olegovich.
The daughters' patronymic names would be Olegovna,
So Mr. Chickadee's sisters are all Olegovna.

{I hope this helps my friends to understand Russian names better}

Now for our own children....

We wanted to continue the Russian tradition,
but going to school here in America I remember
what it was like to have a different name,
and it was not a very good experience.

So Mr. Chickadee and I decided to give our children first names
that can be translated between Russian and English.
We also decided to give our children my husband's first name as their middle,
only without the special ending.

So far we have 4 boys and Sergei is their middle name and it works.
Simon Sergei
Stanley Sergei
Thaddeus Sergei
Anthony Sergei 

But what about when we have a girl?
What middle name will we giver her?

We thought about giving her my name
or a female form of Mr. Chickadee's name.

But what is a female form of Sergei?

Update: On February 27th, 2012 we were blessed with a daughter!
And her middle name is Yelena ♥


  1. Suri? Like my coworker's and Tom Cruise's daughters name.

  2. I don't think Sergei would go for that one lol

  3. AnonymousJuly 14, 2011

    lynn like oma...


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