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Russian Naming Conventions

2 Aug 2010
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Drawing inspiration from last week’s post, I put together a short post on Russian naming conventions, which make more sense than the naming conventions of my culture.

A Russian name is comprised of the following:

  • First name, which is the person’s given name.
  • Middle name, which is a patronymic or a version of the father’s first name formed by adding ‘- vich’ or ‘-ovich’ for a male and ‘-avna’ or ‘- ovna’ for a female. The son of Ivan would have a patronymic of Ivanovich while the daughter’s patronymic would be Ivanovna.
  • Last name, which is the family or surname.

Personally, I find Russian diminutives for proper names really…well, cute. I don’t know why, but I love the sound of them. Of course, as someone who has to use English, which is such a rough Germanic language, everyday, almost anything else sounds better in comparison. For the most part, Russian diminutives end in ‘ya’ or ‘sha’. Personally, I’m acquainted with the following:

  • Aleksander/Aleksandra: Sasha
  • Anna: Anya
  • Daria: Dasha
  • Maria: Masha
  • Mikhail: Misha
  • Pyotr: Petya
  • Yekaterina: Katya

I also know an Ivan, but no one dares call him by anything cute…even though he’s a teddy bear in private. Like I said, I’m surrounded by Russians.

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