The Origin of Slovene Surnames

Janez Keber

The article is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of author's explaining of the origin of surnames in the magazine Slovenija under the standard title Origin of Slovene Surnames. During this period the origins of more than 1700 surnames were explained – either directly or indirectly. Other topics on surnames and names in general were discussed as well.

The introductory part of this article brings a sample explanation of the surnames Kacin and Gnezda. The general part is concerned with the extinction of Slovene surnames and the reasons for that. Further on, the author writes about the forms of surnames and about their changes, e.g. Prešeren, Prešern and Preširen. In this context he tries to establish the relationship between the grammatically or orthographically "correct" and "incorrect" forms, as well as the relation to dialectal forms of surnames having a common origin, e.g. Krajnc, Kranjc, Kranjec, Zajc, Zajec, Zavec, discusses the variant spellings er and r in surnames, such as KertKrt, VerhovecVrhovec, and the interrelation of the suffixes -ar : -er occurring in surnames, e.g. Šuštar : Šušter.

The author believes that more than a half of Slovene surnames are of Slovene origin. The majority originate from toponyms and microtoponyms, but also from nicknames. To the latter group belong also the surnames deriving from the names of professions, professional functions and titles – several of these are German. Yet, the surnames from German bases do not indicate that these persons are not Slovene.