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Lithuanian Roman Catholic (RC) Ancestor Search Information

Lithuania Roman Catholic Parish Registers

(in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives and Online)

Polonization of Lithuanian Names in the Birth, Marriage and Death Registers of Lithuanian Roman Catholic Churches (RCCs)


​THE POLONIZATION PROCESS DURING ENTRY OF LITHUANIAN NAMES


With one general exception, in all of the pre-WWI birth, marriage and death registers of Lithuanian RCCs, the names of ethnic Lithuanians were usually Polonized (converted into Polish-language versions of the names by the priest making the entry) when they were entered into the registers and the names of Lithuanian towns and villages were identified by their Polish names when they were entered into the registers. The general exception to this is that in the Latin-language registers of Lithuanian RCCs, the given names of all persons were Latinized. 


In the Russian-language records, the names of Lithuanian people and places were Polonized, but the Polonized name was also trans-literated into the Cyrillic alphabet by the priest making the entry, so the names may appear to be Russified, but they are actually Cyrillic-transliterated Polonized forms of Lithuanian names. 


For example, if the entry were for a Lithuanian man named Jonas Antanavičius from the village Bukliškė, his name and village would typically appear in a register entry as follows:

     Latin-language register entry: Joannes Antonowicz (from) Bukliszki.
     Polish-language register entry: Jan Antonowicz (from) Bukliszki.

     Russian-language register entry: Янъ Антоновичъ (from) Буклишки.
 


REVERSAL OF THE POLONIZATION PROCESS DURING TRANSLATION OF LITHUANIAN NAMES IN REGISTER ENTRIES


When translating names of ethnic Lithuanians in register entries, Lithuanian genealogists typically convert the "Latinized" and "Polonized" names in the entry into Lithuanian names. Such conversions of persons' names are appropriate if the persons were ethnic Lithuanians, because it is believed to be simply a reversal of the name-conversion process utilized by the priest who made the entry in the register. Such conversions of persons' names are also preferable, because without such a reversal of the name-conversion process the names of ethnic Lithuanians would appear to be those of ethnic Poles.


The given names that appear in translated register entries are the names as spelled in modern Lithuanian. With respect to the determination of equivalent given names, a good source is the Polish volume and / or the Russian volume of the In Their Words books by Shea & Hoffman (References 1 and 2).


The surnames that appear in translated register entries are the translators' interpretations of how the surnames would be spelled in modern Lithuanian. [Different translators could arrive at different spellings of a surname based on different translation philosophies.] 


When translating place names of Lithuanian towns and villages in register entries, Lithuanian genealogists typically convert the place names back into their Lithuanian-language names, but they use the modern (present-day) spellings of these place names. The place names that appear in translated register entries are the names as spelled in modern Lithuanian.


MY ADDED COMMENTS ABOUT THE LITHUANIAN NAMES THAT APPEAR IN TRANSLATIONS


My Added Comment About Conversion of Names of Lithuanian Nobles. It is my understanding that the Lithuanian nobility were ethnic Lithuanians and that they spoke Lithuanian, but that they typically preferred to use the Polish forms of their names and that they typically preferred to speak Polish (including at home). In such cases, I believe that Lithuanian genealogists would view it as appropriate (and preferable from the Lithuanians' viewpoint of their own history) to convert the names in the RCC registers into Lithuanian names because the nobles were in fact ethnic Lithuanians. [If the name of a noble appears in an RCC register, and it is known that the noble was not an ethnic Lithuanian, I believe it is inappropriate to convert the name into Lithuanian.]

 My Added Suggestion (and Practice): Because the conversion of many surnames can be highly subjective, it is helpful if each Lithuanian surname in a translated register entry is followed by a transcription (enclosed in parentheses) of the handwritten surname as it appears in the language of the register entry [but adjusted to be in the nominative case, singular in number, and to reflect a standardized approach to surname suffixes of maiden names].

My Added Suggestion (and Practice): In cases of unusual given names, it is helpful if that Lithuanian given name in a translated register entry is followed by a transcription (enclosed in parentheses) of the handwritten given name as it appears in the language of the register entry [but adjusted to be in the nominative case].

My Exception to Standard Practice: For some given names that would typically be translated into the Lithuanian given name "Motiejus" [equivalent of both English "Matthias" and "Matthew"], I use "Motiejus" only for names that are the equivalent of English "Matthias". I use "Mateušas" for names that are the equivalent of English "Matthew". This is an attempt to preserve the distinction between the two names [but this goal isn't always achieved because apparently sometimes the priests making the register entries were also confused].

My Added Suggestion (and Practice): In cases of place names where a village was known by a non-Lithuanian-language name that was quite different from its Lithuanian name, it is helpful if that Lithuanian place name in a translated register entry is followed by the non-Lithuanian-language name [enclosed in square brackets (vs. parentheses, used for transcriptions)] as it is known in the language of the register entry. For instance, the Lithuanian village of "Piemenys" was also called by the Polish name "Pastuszki". In translating a Polish-language register entry, the Lithuanian name in the translated register entry would be followed in square brackets by the Polish name: Piemenys [Pastuszki].  In translating a Russian-language register entry, the Lithuanian name in the translated register entry would be followed in square brackets by the Cyrillic-transliterated Polish name: Piemenys [
Пастишки].

My Added Suggestion (and Practice): In cases of unusual place names, it is helpful if that Lithuanian place name in a translated register entry is followed by a transcription (enclosed in parentheses) of the handwritten place name as it appears in the language of the register entry [but adjusted to be in the nominative case].



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