That’s quite confusing. Russia has a list full of their typical names. For the Hollywood movie lovers, you might not be surprised to hear ‘Viktor, Vladimir, Pavel or Leonid’ as they always appear as Mafia, Gangsters or Secret Agents. But for me, who has just encountered the Russian world not so long ago, it was quite confusing. Why do so many of them have the same name? What do they call each other if there is 3 or 4 Aleksandrs, 4 Svetlanas and 2 Ekaterinas in a room?
RUSSIAN NAMING SYSTEM
They surely have list . For men, you can find names such as : Aleksandr, Aleksey, Anton, Ivan, Nikolay, Nikita, Sergei, Viktor, Vladimir, Pavel, Petr, Dmitry, Mikhail, Stepan, Igor, Yuriy, etc.
And for women: Olga, Ekaterina, Evgenia, Irina, Maria, Marina, Lyudmila, Tatyana, Svetlana, Veronika, Elizaveta and etc.
Their naming system is very unique. They have first name, patronymics and family name.
First name comes first. For example Mikhail. Mikhail has a father. His name is Stepan. So, his name will be Mikhail Stepanovich. They have the same surname (undoubtedly), Makarov. So, on his diploma, Mikhail will find his name written as – Mikhail Stepanovich Makarov.Mr. Stepan Makarov has a wife. The wife, Irina, decided to adopt her husband’s family name – Makarov. Irina’s father’s name is Aleksandr.
Irina’s name will be Irina Aleksandrova Makarova.
For patronymics, the ending is different between men and women. “ICH” is normally for men ‘STEPANOVICH, MIKHAILOVICH, IVANOVICH, VIKTOROVICH’ while “NA” is normally for women ‘STEPANOVNA, MIKHAILOVNA, IVANOVNA, VIKTOROVNA’.
HYPOCORISM – DON’T JUDGE PEOPLE BY THEIR NAMES
Like any other country, Russia has hypocorism. What is that?! Is that an illness? Errgh…of course, no. Hypocorism is a nickname that shows affection or closeness (I cheated on WikiPedia). For every name that I mentioned above, there is a special hypocorism. Check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocorism#Russian
Hypocorism is used for putting a border. If you know what I mean. It’s interesting for me as in Indonesia, we don’t have such thing. Everybody can call you as your parents or close friends call you. In Russia (or in any other countries that use Hypocorism), ONLY parents, close friends or people to whom you give your permission can use hypo!
You can’t call your boss “Hi, Yurok, how are you doing?!” – Well, you can, but, you must be ready for the consequences.
But, you can call your friend ‘Yurok, Mishenka, Dima, Styopa’ or any other hypocorism that you’ve just found in WikiPedia.
So, what’s my point? Again I want to say that Hollywood has led you astray. They are too lazy to look for some information which is available on the internet about the Russian Naming System. It’s so funny to see how friends in the movie call each other Dmitry, Viktor, Vladimir or Pavel. Hehe, it sounds as if you called your friend ‘Mr.Brown’, or ‘Mr.Shoemaker’. It’s okay for joke but it’s an awkward idea to be serious with.
I had a stupid experience with hypocorism. I admit that I was so silly and knew nothing about this land or this culture even though I am a big fan of Russia. My first encounter with real Russian happened when I met my husband. Nicely, he introduced himself as “Sasha. Hi, my name is Sasha”. And that time, I laughed, thinking that he was a hilarious person who likes to joke even in our first meeting. So, I paid him back by saying “ I am Mary” (of course I am not). And then I found out that Sasha is also a masculine name.
I also almost fought with my acquaintance as I told her about the guy I met named Sash (It was her fault). I used ‘him’ instead of ‘her’ (of course, because he’s a man). But, my acquaintance lost her patience because she kept thinking that Sasha was a girl. A girl with a cute pony tail maybe….
I also thought that Yuri Gagarin was a woman 🙁