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  • wfhoffman
    Hi, ... This question is a little tricky, because the basic root _konop-_ exists in many Slavic languages, including Polish, Russian, Czech, Ukrainian, etc. It
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2005

      Lolly Kozak <lolky95@...> wrote:

      > My grandmother was a Konopka born in what is now Poland. Is this
      > surname Polish or Ukrainian?
      > I have seen the surname in villages in the Stry area of Ukraine.

      This question is a little tricky, because the basic root _konop-_ exists in
      many Slavic languages, including Polish, Russian, Czech, Ukrainian, etc. It
      usually referrs to hemp, although I notice C. H. Andrusyshen and j. N.
      Krett's Ukrainian-English dictionary also mentions a term _konopa_,
      "uneasiness, unrest, disturbance," in addition to _konopli_, "hemp." The
      ending -ka shows up in names of many different Slavic languages, formed by
      adding that ending to a basic root such as _konop-_. So while KONOPKA
      definitely is a surname used by Poles, I wasn't comfortable making the flat
      statement that it's exclusively Polish.

      When a question of this sort comes up and I can't find any definitive word,
      I try an experiment: I key in the Cyrillic spelling of the name, search for
      it on Google, and see how often it shows up on Ukrainian-language sites.
      Obviously this isn't scientific or conclusive, but I find it's often
      helpful. A name frequently used by Ukrainians will usually show up on at
      least a few Ukrainian-language pages.

      In this case, most KONOPKA's I found mentioned were on Russian-sites, with
      relatively few on Ukrainian sites. What's more, a quick look suggested most
      of the Konopka's referred to, especially on the Ukrainian pages, were
      explicitly identified as either Poles, or Americans, presumably of Polish

      Rymut says the name shows up in Polish records as early as 1393, and the
      database at http://www.herby.com.pl/herby/indexslo.html shows 11,121 Polish
      citizens bore this name as of 1990. The largest numbers lived in the
      provinces of Lomza, 1,622, and Warsaw, 1,278. The numbers in the areas near
      the border with Ukraine were much smaller. This is consistent with Polish

      None of these individual facts is conclusive. But put it all together, and
      I'd say a KONOPKA would usually turn out to be Polish. I wouldn't go so far
      as to say every KONOPKA in the world has to be a Pole or descendant of
      Poles; but the material I looked at strongly suggests to me that most
      KONOPKA's would be. The name's appearance in the Stryi area is not too
      puzzling. It's common to see names of Polish linguistic origin in Ukraine,
      and Ukrainian names in Poland; these peoples have mixed and interacted for
      centuries, and many Poles resettled in Ukraine over the centuries.

      So I think your grandmother probably was Polish, not Ukrainian. Hope that
      helps a little.

      Fred Hoffman
      Author, _Polish Surnames: Origins & Meanings_
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