JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen The Letter y in Polish #general

Fritz Neubauer

Judith wrote:

And it
is certainly true of Polish surnames that gentile
names end in -ski while the Jewish version of the
same name usually ends in names in -y

Does anybody know why this is? Did it happen
because when written in Yiddish (i.e. in Hebrew
alphabet letters) the -ski ending had to be
rendered with a letter yod -- which would then in
turn automatically be rendered as a "y" when
persons with such names came to European
countries or USA and had to transliterate their

My comment:

I think the real reason is that the Polish language normally does not
have the letters "x" and "y". So normal Polish names or words would
never have a "y" in them. The "y" does turn up in other Slavic languages
in transliteration of Russian, Belorussian or Ukrainian. The transcription
of the Russian word for "cheese" - syr - would automatically require the
"y" for the Russian sound that occurs in that word. Ukrainian has at least
two letters that represent some kind of "ee"-sound, for one of which the
"y" is used in transliteration. For the English transliteration of Russian
names and words there has been a tradition to use the letter "y' even if
the Russian word does not even have it as in "Dostoyewsky", which would
be Dostoevskij in an exact transliteration, there the two Russian letters
"ij" at the end are turned into a "y" in the English transliteration.

In consequence, the Polish Kaminski's, Jablonski's or Romanski's are
spelled with i's, the Russian, Ukrainian of Belorussian names use y's,
and since many of the Polish Jews had roots in these areas and also
because part of Poland was under Russian rule for some time, the y
slipped into these names that had no Polish roots.

I hope that helps

Fritz Neubauer, normally in North-Germany

Join to automatically receive all group messages.