What languages have the "shch" phoneme? #names


Josephine Rosenblum
 

There is a phoneme (single speech sound) that appears in Russian, and perhaps other languages, but not in English.  It sounds like the last sound of "hush" plus the first sound of "child" pushed together, so it becomes "hushchild".  Since English does not have this phoneme, words or names with it are transliterated as "szcz".  My first question: are there languages, besides Russian, that have this phoneme?

David LESTZ and a younger brother immigrated in 1911 from Bremen to Baltimore.  He told his son that his original name in Latin letters was LESZCZ, but "someone" said that was not acceptable in America.  The man consulted a book and then told David that his name would be spelled LESTZ.  David agreed and kept this spelling and handed it down to his descendants.  Question two: did such a reference book really exist?

Thank you in advance for all answers.  
Josephine Rosenblum
Cincinnati, OH


Jules Levin
 

First, your description of the pronunciation is not universal; many Russian speakers pronounce a "long soft sh" instead of a shch, which is opposed to a hard (velarized) sh.  Before 1918 it was a mark of St. Petersburg elite pronunciation.  It is also an iotation of clusters -st-, -sk-, as in pisk squeal --> pishchat' to squeal.   It certainly occurs in North Slavic dialects--Pol, Bel, Ukr.   In any case, many linguists would consider it a cluster, not a single phoneme.  (I like "hush child"--I always used 'fresh cheese' in teaching.   

Jules Levin

There is a phoneme (single speech sound) that appears in Russian, and perhaps other languages, but not in English.  It sounds like the last sound of "hush" plus the first sound of "child" pushed together, so it becomes "hushchild".  Since English does not have this phoneme, words or names with it are transliterated as "szcz".  My first question: are there languages, besides Russian, that have this phoneme?

David LESTZ and a younger brother immigrated in 1911 from Bremen to Baltimore.  He told his son that his original name in Latin letters was LESZCZ, but "someone" said that was not acceptable in America.  The man consulted a book and then told David that his name would be spelled LESTZ.  David agreed and kept this spelling and handed it down to his descendants.  Question two: did such a reference book really exist?

Thank you in advance for all answers.  
Josephine Rosenblum
Cincinnati, OH


Miriam Bulwar David-Hay
 

Josephine,

The sh-tch sound is common in Polish and szcz is Polish spelling, not any kind of "transliteration." Only Poland has a town called Szczebrzeszyn! :)

All the best,
Miriam Bulwar David-Hay,
Raanana, Israel.
Professional journalist, writer, editor, proofreader.
Professional translator (Hebrew/Yiddish to English).
Certified guide, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
Email: miriambdh@...

Researching: BULWA/BULWAR (Rawa Mazowiecka, Lodz, Paris); FRENKIEL/FRENKEL, FERLIPTER/VERLIEBTER (Belz); KALUSZYNER, KUSMIERSKI, KASZKIET, KUZKA, JABLONKA, RZETELNY, WROBEL (Kaluszyn, Lodz); KRYSKA/KRYSZKA, CHABIELSKI/HABELSKI (Sieradz, Lodz); LICHTENSZTAJN (Kiernozia, Wyszogrod, Lodz); ROZENBERG (Przedborz, Lodz); WAKS (Nowe Miasto nad Pilica, Lodz); PELCMAN, STORCZ (Rawa Mazowiecka); SOBEL (Paris); SAPIR/SZAFIR (Wyszogrod).  


Sherri Bobish
 

Josephine,

David LESTZ did arrive in 1911 under the name David Schlojme Leszcz.
I don't see a brother that he traveled with though.

A quick look at naturalization records shows other people named Leszcz changed their surname to some of these spellings:
Lescht
Lash
Lesh
Lifshitz

Maybe David picked the name out of a city directory?  A search for LESTZ in old city directories finds many hits in Pennsylvania, but one in Baltimore as early as 1912:  Simon Lestz.

I'm sure that David wanted a spelling of his surname that Americans could pronounce.

Good luck in your search,

Sherri Bobish


joel.novis@...
 

The щ letter is common to three Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian), and has different pronunciations in each:  the accepted Russian pronunciation is a soft "sh" sound (anything else is considered a regional variation or non-standard);  Ukrainian pronunciation is closer to a "sh-ch" combination, sounding very much like Polish SZCZ;  Bulgarian speakers pronounce this letter "sht".  In all cases, this is a single phoneme, especially in situations where (as in Russian) щ appears as the result of a consonant mutation (for example, the present tense first person singular for the verb "to search", where ск [sk] becomes щ [shch] (искать --> ищу).

The spelling of Jewish surnames, as we've all no doubt seen before, could be widely variable, depending on the native language of the person keeping the record.  The surname of my maternal grandmother was spelled Olsztajn, Olsztejn, Olstein in Polish and Ольштейнъ, Ольштайнъ in Russian (after April, 1876) in metrical documents, occasionally with variant spellings in the same record.  And that was in Poland -- when different family members emigrated to North America, there were half-a-dozen different ways the surname was Anglicized.  My point is that it's important to be a bit flexible when considering how an ancestor's name was spelled or pronounced.

Joel Novis
Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Researching:  NOVITSKIY (Kyiv, Vasil'kiv/Ukraine), OHLSTEIN/OLSZTEJN (Łowicz, Łódź/Poland), GEJMAN/HYMAN (Ashmyany/Belarus), POTASNIK/LEVY (Who knows?)


Alexander Sharon
 

Lescz is common "fishy" , family surname in Polish Jewish and Christian families. Leszcz translates as bream or Abramis brama type of fish into English. Please note that jri-p database lists 268 (exact spelling) entries for Leszcz, the highest numbers directs to the Lomza region. Leszcz is still very popular nowadays in Poland - distribution of this surname shows 677 people with such names.

Alexander Sharon
Calgary, AB