JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Surname selection #general

Judith Romney Wegner

Do any of us really know how name changes came about. The Family name from
Tetiev, Kiev Gub. was Strakovsky/Strakoffsky (in the USA).
My grfa's brother arrived in the UK in 1899 and appeared in the
1901 UK Census
as Jacob Strickoffski. He latter became Jack Stratton. Go figure.

Adelle Weintraub Gloger
Well, it's not difficult to figure out the example you give here.

Since the surname Strakovsky (like thousands of other East European
Jewish surnames) was originally written in the Yiddish alphabet
(meaning, in Hebrew rather than Latin characters), when their
bearers (often literate only in Yiddish) arrived in Europe or USA it
became urgently necessary to transliterate their names into Latin
alphabet. Obviously, this was done by simply listening to the name
and rendering its sound into Latin characters. And if one slurs
the first vowel (as people usually do in an unstressed syllable) ,
there's virtually no difference in the actual sound between the
spellings Strakovsky and Strickoffski -- so it's easy to see how that
would happen when different people do the transliterating.

As for the later switch to Stratton, it was actually more common than
not for Jewish immigrants to England to anglicize their names. My
own family name is a typical example that exactly parallels your own
example; first the spelling was altered >from Rumianek to Romyaneck,
then later my father and his brothers changed it >from the outlandish
Romyanek to the nice, respectable "soundalike" English surname

Of course, anglicizing one's surname was far less of an imperative in
USA -- this being a nation of immigrants replete with names >from all
different ethnicities, among which Jewish surnames did not stick out
like a sore thumb the way they did in England. But it's not
difficult to figure out the actual process!

Judith Romney Wegner

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