JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Hungarian Jewish Surnames #general
Roger Lustig <julierog@...>
I wouldn't want to rely on a spelling-related rule such as the I/Ytoggle quoted message Show quoted text
distinction that Evelin proposes.
In Prussia, where German was the official language, the letter "y" was
used inconsistently, often as a matter of fashion or nationalistic
expression. The same surname may be found in vital records alternating
frequently between an -i ending and a -y ending over a long period of time.
For example: the KATSCHINSKI family of Upper Silesia, originally in
Sohrau. In 1812-36 they appear only in the Sohrau records (32 times),
and always with the -Y ending. (5 different spellings of the rest of
the surname though!) 1837-42: 2 -Y endings >from other towns. 1843-49 we
see only -I (5 records). 1850: 3 -Ys. One of them is a marriage that
is also recorded in another town--but with the -I ending. For the rest
of the 1850's there are 9 -Ys and 14 -Is, often the same person (father
of a child) being recorded both ways. And so on.
The same phenomenon may be observed in just about any other surname
ending with -I/-Y. LOEWY/LEWY/LEVI/LEWI/LOEWI/etc. is just one example.
Even a name >from a German word is spelled inconsistently, because
German itself was spelled inconsistently: MAI/MAY.
As for Hungarian names, the rule doesn't sound any more sensible
either--but for the opposite reason. In Hungarian, the alphabet
includes things that look like multiple-letter combinations, but are
treated as single letters. Those include "gy", "ly", "ny", and "ty".
Hungarian spelling is highly phonetic, with one letter or letter
combination having only one value. So names ending with a particular
sound require a particular spelling, no matter who's using them.
Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hungarian_Jews for
examples of Hungarian names belonging to Jews. Start with John KEMENY
(KEMENY Janos), president of Dartmouth, inventor of BASIC, etc.
Tom Klein has accurately observed that a Hungarian Jewish name ending