2020, Volume 17, Issue 3

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Nadezhda V. Kabinina
Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

To the Origins of Russian Surnames with the Stem Maur-

Voprosy onomastiki, 2020, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp. 65–82 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2020.17.3.035

Received on 14 June 2020

Abstract: The paper delves into the etymology of East Slavic (including Russian) surnames with the stem Maur- (Maur, Maurenko, Maurin, Maurinov, Maurov, Maurtsev, etc.). The author shows that these can neither go back to the female calendar name Mavra, as popular Internet sources suggest, nor refer to a female deity from the legendary Merya pantheon, as the first serious researcher of the issue, Nikolay Shvarev, has proposed. Based on linguo-geographic data, the article substantiates another hypothesis that Maur- is an adapted version of the original Ukrainian stem Magur-, originally pronounced as [maγur-] in the territories where the standard [g] is substituted with a velar fricative [γ] (the so-called “gekanie”). Thus, the variant stem Maur- in these surnames appeared in the central and northern Old Russian lands due to the articulatory weakening of [γ]. Historically, this builds on the fact that in the Old Russian period the population of the present Ukrainian lands repeatedly migrated far to the east, to modern Central Russia, fleeing from the Polovtsian raids, the Mongol invasion, famine, and political instability. Analysing the picture of the Ukrainian Magur- surnames distribution leads the author to conclude that these originally arose in the extreme west of Ukraine, on the territory of the Ukrainian Carpathians, where three mountain peaks called Magura are located. It is quite natural that over time, the oronym-based nicknames of the Carpathian inhabitants have developed East Slavic patronymic suffixes (Magurenko, Maguryak, etc.). At the same time, it is possible that some people with nicknames containing the stem Magur- could have been immigrants from Northern Romania and Moldavia, also featuring several mountainous regions called Măgură.

Keywords: Russian surnames, Ukrainian surnames, ancient Rostov land, historical Meryan lands, Southern Russia, Eastern Europe, place names, precedent names.

The research was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant number 20-18-00223 “Etymological Studies and Semantic Reconstruction of Russian Dialect Vocabulary”).


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