Hello hello! It’s another icipici edition of the Hungarian Living podcast. If you are just tuning in for the first time, let me to encourage you to go back a few episodes to the first one in this series.
Hey there! This is Part 7 of the icipici series of the Hungarian Living podcast on Getting Started with Genealogy. If you have been working through this process with me, you have written down a few answers to some standard questions. But, the process has likely opened up a new world of other questions you have. As you look through the information you have gathered, do you notice where you might need to dig a little further? Do you know who might have additional information? Have you noticed a pattern of names in your family? If you are from a Hungarian family background, like me, you may notice that there are Hungarian names all along your family line. Then you might notice there are Hungarian nicknames or Americanized versions of names. Sometimes there are spelling changes. It’s all these things that can lead to some challenges in genealogy research.
In our family, our first names are all Americanized versions of a Hungarian name. And then we almost all have Hungarian middle names. My older brother grew up with a strong Hungarian nickname. His name is Charles but that is the English version of Karoly. And a Hungarian nickname that comes from Karoly is Karcsi. The cousins that are his age still refer to him as Karcsi and they have for 60+ years. It always throws me off because, by the time I (eight years younger) have any great recollection of his name, I think it was Charles or Chaz. And since he has been married, it seems that his name is Chuck. I, too, have had a lot of variations of Elizabeth. I guess this all goes to show that as names change over time – for many reasons – it might make it a little difficult to find or keep track of your people.
Why do families Americanize their names? I think each family has their reasons – sometimes it has to do with fitting in a little better in the “new land”. But, it also might have come about in order to separate themselves from the other branch of the family.
Some people do it for practical purposes. Our family name is a fairly common one Szabo S-z-a-b-o but it is routinely misspelled and mispronounced. Some days it doesn’t seem to be worth the hassle to educate people on the correct pronunciation and spelling. If you have a very Hungarian last name, you know exactly what I am talking about. Sometimes it is just easier to simplify it. But maybe you don’t even know that your last name is officially pronounced differently because your entire life it has been pronounced the “easier way”. Again, there are lots of reasons for that. And I am not criticizing those families who have chosen to change their names or adapt them. But there is something special that gets lost. And, pretty soon, no one is left who knows the original pronunciation or spelling. And sometimes that is how family members get lost, too. If you notice a variety of spellings of your family name through the generations, take note of them. That may come in handy as you continue your research!
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