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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Surnames of Foreign Origin in Language Contact Situations: The Reasons and Ways of their changes and their Influence on the Surname Stock in Hungary

T Farkas
ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary

In historical Hungary, the use of inheritable family names developed in a natural way among the Hungarian, German, Slovakian and Croatian populations. However, at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, decrees prescribed the use of permanent family names for the still surnameless Gypsy, Jewish and Greek Orthodox (mainly Serbian) minorities. Many names were changed spontaneously in language contact situations according to the name stock of the dominant community, and in the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly by the means of official surname changes. As names could become ethnic symbols, this process was influenced by social, ideological and political factors. – This paper studies the use and the value of foreign surnames in a dominant linguistic and cultural context, analyses the reasons for the process and the typology of the changes. It compares the surname stocks involved, and studies the consequences of their differences in the changing process. The paper finally presents how these changes modified the Hungarian surname system, resulting in new names and surname types in the latter centuries.

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