Archiver > PRUSSIA-ROOTS > 2000-02 > 0951436591

From: "seiji uehara" <>
Subject: [PRUSSIA] FW: -ke names
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 08:56:31 +0900

This just in from Matthias Teichert.
Have Fun!!! And no jumping ship after all this!!
As Juergen says, we are now going to be (?) experts in linguistics /
Best of luck with your identity.
Amy Klemke Uehara.

-----Original Message-----
·ol : <>
ˆ¶æ : <>
“úŽž : Friday, February 25, 2000 8:22 AM
Œ–¼ : -ke names


I wrote this. This may help people on the list (or confuse them).


Surnames: German or Wendisch?

Certain “German” surnames aren’t German at all, they’re Wendisch. The
were small tribes of Western Slavs closely related to the Czechs. They were
first Christianized and then Germanized. Typically these Germanized names
found in northeastern Germany, including former areas of Germany. Although
due to the tragic events preceding 1945, these names can be found all over
modern Germany. Usually there a several endings which might suggest a
Wendisch origin: -ow/-au, -itz, -itzsch, -ischke, -icke, -ke, -kar, -ig
(there are other endings not listed). CAREFUL, this rule is not set in
cement!! The are plenty of exceptions. Plenty of original German surnames
have these endings. In the past I have wrongfully assumed certain names were
Wendisch or German! Below I concentrate only a few of these endings.

These are usually Wendisch surnames derived from places names. Sometimes -ow
was changed to -au. However not all -au names are Wendisch. There is an
abundance of original German -au names that aren’t Wendisch, sometimes -ow.
Also be careful of -loh, a Saxon ending which sometimes is written as -low.
There are also -gau’s in German, meaning district. Here are a few examples:

Reichen-au/-ow --> both Wendisch and German.
Mandel-oh/-ow --> German.
Jagow --> Wendisch.
Breisgau --> German.
Steinau --> German.
Liebenau --> Wendisch.
Luetzow --> Wendisch

-itz’s are usually surnames derived from places and can be both German or
Wendisch, most often Wendisch.

This is the most often encountered ending. This can be either a Saxon
diminutive suffix or a Wendisch suffix. Occasionally the suffixes will vary
over time, -ke becomes -icke and vice versa. Not uncommonly, regardless of
ethnicity, these are derived from personal names, but not always. Here are a
few examples:

Koennicke --> German, Conrad.
Jahnicke --> Wendisch, John.
Steinicke --> German, stone.
Heinicke --> German, Heinrich.
Heinke --> Wendisch, Heinrich.
Funcke --> German, smith.
Piefke --> Wendisch, bear.
Piepke --> German, pipe.
Gohlke --> Wendisch, bald.
Lietzke --> German, folk.
Klemke --> German or Wendisch, Clemens.
Domke --> German or Wendisch.

To further confuse the situation, there are in existence German and Wendisch
names that look almost identical, but that have different origins. Even some
Wendisch names are “corrupted” German names or slavicized German names.
example, the Wendisch “Schultke” is a slavicized form of the German name
“Schulz” (there are a million different German forms of this name with
various endings). Both mean village magistrate. In other cases, the names
derived from a common word, for example German: Voigt and Polisch: Woit
meaning as Schulz!!).

Occasionally you’ll run into German surnames containing Wend- /Wind- like
Wendorf or Wendlandt. These are German names for someone originating from
“the village or land of the Wends”. Also you may see Windisch, Wendisch,
h-/Winsch- these usually refer to someone who is Wendisch.

So you can see that it can be difficult to accurately trace the origin. Even
the authors and experts of surname dictionaries disagree on the origin of
specific names, for example Klemke.

Often when people discover the possibility that they might have a few
Wendisch roots, they are concerned they are “real Germans” anymore. Relax,
you are German but with a unique twist! Remember these Wends were
Christianized, Germanized, and intermarried with Germans. Bear in mind too,
that Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, and many other groups are Indo-European. We
all originated from the same source and spoke a language similar to

So in summary, can you accurately identify whether a surname is German or
Wendisch? Sometimes, but there are a lot of exceptions. The only thing you
can be certain of is that the name originated in northern or northeastern
Germany. I hope I didn’t confuse you too much.

Matthias Teichert (great grandson of an -icke)

-----Original Message-----
·ol : ib:f <>
ˆ¶æ : <>
“úŽž : Friday, February 25, 2000 7:51 AM
Œ–¼ : [PRUSSIA] AW: -KE name ending

>What Matthias Teichert wrote on this subject is absolutely correct. One
>group of -KE names is of German origin and has the diminutive meaning, the
>other one of Slavic origin. Each group has nothing to do with the other
>To find out to which group your particular surname belongs, you really
>have to "study" linguistics / onomastics or have to rely on books which
>explain this more or less correctly (be careful).
>Also, you generally can *not* compare a surname (which mostly also shows
>several regional variations) which puts on the semblance of a similarity or
>even identity with any German or Slavic words. Vocabularies and surnames
>developed very differently and have been changed very considerably during
>the centuries. So KUSKE might not be a small kiss (Kuss), and GOHLKE surely
>is of Slavic origin and thus not the diminutive of (a non-German word)
>BOEHMKE could mean a small tree (Baum) or could have meant a small man
>(Boehme) from Bohemia (Boehmen), as well - or anything else. Generally it
>to say, this science (onomastics) often is an uncertain ground ...
> Jürgen Fritsche (Germany)

This thread: