Beider lists Plen (known in Courland,Shavli and Vilna). Possibly derived
from Plenen, an estate connected to Tukums in Courland.
From: Ev and Col Plen [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 11:44 AM
To: South Africa SIG
Subject: [safrica] My surname (PLEN)
I would like you to get involved in a disagreement between my brother and
My surname is Plen. According to a recently found cousin who was born and
reared in Russia the name means Military prisoner and in Russian is a
fourletter word exactly as the name Plen .
However my brother has been searching in Jewishgen and feels certain that
Plen is a form of Blum.
He says: Further to my brother Colin's request for information, a further
Plen could come >from the Yiddish "chapped in Plen" or taken as a
prisoner of war or indeed the Russian which means something similar.
As time goes on I become more and more convinced that Plen is a
derivation of Blum and the twisting of letter P for B and M for N would
come when Blum was written in Russian letters and then later rewritten
in Western European letters. In Russian the use of P and B is different
from that in Western European languages. Of course most of our surnameswould also have been written in Yiddish which could also lead to further
If this theory was true it would explain why there are a number of Plen
families that are not related to each other.
The idea originally came to me while using the Beit Hatefutsot search
facility in Tel Aviv. That computer offered not only to search for the
exact spelling of family names but also to search for "sounds like" and
proceeded to provide me with Blum as an alternative to Plen. It is not
surprising when you think of the confusion caused when the Slavic "C"
which sounds a bit like "TZ" (as in Seidlice), when read in English is
sounded as a "K" or even a sibilant "S" sound.