Czech Family Names of Foreign Origin?

Discussion in 'Culture' started by EinBlauerHai, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. EinBlauerHai

    EinBlauerHai Active Member

    Hello again, everyone!

    I was recently having a discussion regarding Czech family names with a Czech friend of mine. It's been my observation that a significant number of Czechs with German family names deny having any significant German ancestry. My friend remarked that it wasn't odd at all. In fact, he said, there are some Czech family names that come from the German language, but don't exist outside of the Czech Republic. As an example, he gave his name 'Forejtek'. I asked him what German word that's supposed to represent, and he said it meant something like Vorreiterchen (little vanguard) or 'Sohn des Vorreiters' (son of the vangaurd). Well, those certainly aren't German/Austrian/Swiss family names as far as I know :lol:

    But I'm wondering whether my friend was pulling my leg. If not, are there any other Czech family names that are comprised of German words, but not used by German speakers :?:
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, Forejtek seems to me like czechized German name, so it's possible that in this form isn't used in Germany.

    You have to understand that in past centuries, people migrated all over the Europe and specially place, where is now Czech republic changed its borders very often.
  3. EinBlauerHai

    EinBlauerHai Active Member

    The word Vorreiter is a common one in German (at least in the metaphorical sense of 'being in the vanguard'), but as a family name, it's practically non-existent.

    There are apparently some Vorreiters in Kitzbühel, Austria, but it wouldn't surprise me to discover they were Czechs who Germanized their name. It looks like there are several hundred people with Czechified versions of the name Vorreiter (Forejt/ek) in the Czech Republic. It would seem my friend is right that the use of this word as a family name started in Bohemia.

    But I wonder about those Czechs with commonly used German surnames. Do people think of them as any less Czech because of their family name?
  4. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    In Austria some people have Czech-like names like Prohazka, Rzehak, Sykora, Vranitzky. Do people there think of them as lesser?
  5. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    They needn’t have any German ancestry.

    The surnames originated from the names used by other people, not by the person itself. Thus a Czech (Italian, Russian…) shoemaker living among Germans became Shuhmeister/Schuster and a German (French, Greek…) shoemaker living among Czechs became Švec.
    A free man living in an area with a Czech lord and Czech officials became Svoboda regardless his origin, in regions with German lord and German officials he became Freimann (better not speaking of regions with French lord and both Czech and German officials :)).

    And now consider the influence of migration (and possible renaming of newcomers), of intermarriages, of adjusting names to local languages, of transcriptions, of adjusting transcription to the pronunciation, of adjusting pronunciation to the transcription, of modifications of the names (e.g. most of the diminutive names in Czech were used to prevent duplicities), of forced assimilation of Galician Jews under Joseph II (they were forced to accept a surname from a very short list of names like Weiss, Kurzweil, Kratochvíl, Poláček…), of germanization/bohemization of the names because of political benefits/reasons, of…

    Really? I think the opposite, the Czech borders are one of the most stable in Europe.

    Not a way.
    Only opportunist changing of names could be deplored, but that is not common at least since WWII.
  6. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Ok, let' say - borders of state formation, which is Bohemia just member (with certain degree of migration).
  7. EinBlauerHai

    EinBlauerHai Active Member

    Thanks for the info, guys :)

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