Meaning and pronunciation of Yiddish surname #lithuania #yiddish #names


Michele Lock
 

I and several of my Lock relatives have long been puzzled by our uncommon Jewish surname, which we have erroneously assumed to have been shortened from something else. From numerous Jewishgen records, it’s clear that this simple one syllable name has been in my family going back at least to 1834, from a Revision list record for Efroim and Mire Lok of Plunge, Lithuania (my ggg grandparents).

Below is how the surname is spelled on several family gravestones here in the US:

 

 

1. How would this surname have been pronounced by a Yiddish speaker from Lithuania? Would it rhyme with ‘lock’ or with ‘lack’?

 

2. On Jewishgen, the name has been transliterated into English with various spellings from Russian/Hebrew records, such as the one below, for the 1874 birth of Elias Lak in Telsiai, Lithuania (only details shown):


 

I have seen the surname transcribed as Lak, Lack, Lok, Liak, Lyak, Ljak, Liack, Lyack, and Ljack. Is there a reason for the ‘i’, ‘y’, or ‘’j’ being inserted before the ‘a’ in the name?

 

3. I’ve found an 1891 Yiddish-English dictionary written by an Alexander Harkavy, in which the word לאק is given several different meanings, either a curl/lock of hair, or a lacquer/wax/varnish, or a jug. For those of you who are Yiddish speakers, which of these meanings makes more sense in terms of being taken as a surname – or could any of them be plausible? I don’t have a copy of Beider’s surname dictionary that I can consult about his take on the meaning, though I’d appreciate it if someone could do so.



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Thanks,
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus


Dan Nussbaum
 

According to Alexander Beider it means curly corresponding to the name Kraus.

Daniel Nussbaum II, M.D., FAAP
Retired Developmental Pediatrician
Rochester, New York
yekkey@...
 
Tone can be misinterpreted in email. Please read my words with warmth, kindness, and good intentions.

Searching for;
Nussbaum, Katzenstein, Mannheimer and Goldschmidt; Rhina, Raboldshausen and Bad Hersfeld, Germany
Teplitzky, Bendersky and Kaszkiet; Uman, Ukraine
Rosenthal and S(c)henk(el)man; Zinkov, Ukraine
Bild and Kashlevsky; anywhere


Odeda Zlotnick
 

The underline under the L in the Hebrew name (2) indicates it was pronounced Lak. 

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Odeda Zlotnick
Jerusalem, Israel.


alejandro@...
 

According to Alexander Beider´s dictornary of surnames of the kingdom of Poland, Lak (and his derivation Lok)  means sealing wax and, therefore, an occupational surname that was common in Biala, Wegrów, Zamosc and Warsaw.
If Lak is written with a slash on the L then it is excatly like my mother´s maiden name Lach which means Pole, the genitive form of the people of Poland.

Alejandro T. Rubinstein Lach


Yitschok Margareten
 

The Yiddish vowel Alef would make it be pronounced Lock or Luck, not Lack. 

The record shown, has an underline which makes it Lock, however the Yiddish-English dictionary has the symbol which makes it Luck. 

The Yiddish word for curl is pronounced luck, and I do know of a Lok family who pronounces their name as Luck. 

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Yitschok Margareten


Frank Schulaner
 

Based on the "Learning Yiddish" books of my youth, most of them decidedly Litvak/Lutvak (some published in Vilno), I'd tend to go with "Lek" or "Lekh" -- more or less as Lech Walesa's name is pronounced.

Also, many Russian vowels--not completely sure which/when/how--are pronounced with a y-like introduction (Medvedef, I'm told, is pronounced Medvedyef), which might be the source/inspiration for the apparently unnecessary i/y/j in some Lithuanian names.

Frank Schulaner
PO Box 507
Kealakekua HI 96750
fschulaner@...


Odeda Zlotnick
 

Hebrew vowel pronunciation:
Even Yiddish does not pronounce  and underline as "ah" or "uh".  

It's only a "Kamats" ("Komets" in Yiddish that is "O".  
קמץ  (Kamats)
פתח(Patakh)

--
Odeda Zlotnick
Jerusalem, Israel.


Michele Lock
 

I'd like to thank all the responses I've gotten, both here and privately.

The consensus, taking into account both the way the surname was written in Hebrew and Russian, is that the named should be transliterated as Lak, and that the vowel is similar to the second 'a' of "ah-HAH". This accords with how my family has always pronounced the surname, and our using the Anglicized spellings of 'Lock' or 'Locke'.

There is no longer any one alive from the Lock immigrants who came to this country in the early 1900s, so I can't hear how they pronounced the name, but I do have an 88 year old cousin who did grow up around these immigrants, and I'm hoping he remembers how they pronounced it.

As for the meaning - according to two different Beider volumes, the name is related to either sealing wax, or having curly hair. I'm thinking that the 'curly hair' is most likely, bestowed on either Efroim Lak (b. 1793) of Plunge, Lithuania, or perhaps his father Yankel (b. about 1760-70.). Someone suggested that I check out a photo of these individuals, but that is not possible. The oldest Lock for whom I have a photo is my great grandfather Hyman Lock (b. abt 1845) and a grandson of Efroim; Hyman had straight hair as it turns out. Myself, I have wavy hair.

On the latest chapter of this surname - in the 1960s, some of my distant Lock relatives moved to Israel, where they decided that לאק was too Yiddishy. So they changed the spelling to what I believe is לוק, and now pronounce the surname similar to 'Luke'. So sad.

 

 

, --
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus