JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Further query regarding QUACHIK spelling, does the letter Q #general


Judith Romney Wegner
 

Michelle C wrote:

In my original posting I asked if anyone knew if the surnames
CHAVATSIK & QUACHIK were typical Jewish/Russian names. With regards
CHAVATSIK the consensus of opinion seems to be that it most probably
began, originally, with the letter K instead of CH. This indeed
seems very feasible. I noted however that nobody commented on
QUACHIK. In all the records I have found relating to my great
grandmother this surname crops up the most, but through my own
research and taking note of the fact that nobody had any info on
this version of the name, am I right in thinking this means that
there arn't any Jewish/Russian surnames beginning with this
particular letter? To help me clarify the situation in my own mind,
could any genners confirm for me whether the letter Q is part of the
Russian language?
Dear Michelle,

The letter Q is not a Russian consonant as such In fact the "qu" combination
with the "kw" sound appears only in Romance languages, not Slavic or any other
language group. In the case of your relatives' surnames they probably began with
the sound "KV" and should never have been transliterated by "QU." For purposes
of Jewishgen, it is worth nothing that if "qu" does appear in a non-Romance
language that employs the Latin alphabet (such as German or Polish) that is
usually because the word was "borrowed" >from another language (usually >from
French or Latin) . The combination "qu" is not native to any other language
group so far as I know.

The other principal case in which a q (without "u") is used in non-Romance
languages is in transliterations >from semitic languages. Scholars of semitic
languages use the "q" to represent the letter Qof in Hebrew, Arabic etc.
In order to distinguish it >from the letter kaf -- which likewise occurs in
Semitic languages and is transliterated by a "k." In fact, as some readers
may have noticed the symbol "q" is simply the Hebrew letter Qof written
backwards. (The art of writing developed originally in the East about 3,000 BCE
and moved gradually westward -- so the shapes of letters became modified in
various ways in various alphabets.

It is important to know that whenever "q" is used in transliterations >from
Hebrew and Arabic, etc., it should never (repeat *never*) be automatically
followed by a letter "u. " This is a common error. If a Hebrew or Arabic word
in transliteration does have "q" followed by "u", that is because the "q"
represents the consonant "qof" while the "u" represents the vowel s pronounced
"oo" -- "the most obvious example being the word Qur'an.

Judith Romney Wegner
jrw@brown.edu

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