Sunday, December 21, 2014

Are Names Ending in 'ich' Really Slavic?

(Written by Guido Posar-Giuliano, taken from the magazine “Pagine Istriane”, organ of the Associazioni Istriane di Studi e di Storia Patria, Pola, Year 2, Series III, no. 5, February 1951, printed in Trieste.)

The Slavs pretend that the ending ich, in which many localities and Istrian family names end, is a Slavic characteristic and therefore all the names ending in it are Slavic and all who bear those names are of Slavic origin. Such a claim is so universally accepted that neither in Istria, much less in Italy, has anyone thought to doubt that the names ending in ich are decidedly Slavic and only in the most absurd instances is it admitted that ich has caught on, as for example in Fabbrich, Mianich, Marinich, etc.

Now, ich is a Slavic ending corresponding to the Latin icus, but only in form, rather than in substance, because adding the Slavic ich to a name gives it diminutive value and even endearment, while the Latin icus indicates pertinence. It must also be emphasized that the Slavic ich is almost always preceded by the patronymic suffix ov or ev, so that Za­revich, Alexievich and Petrovich respectively indicates the "little son" of the Tsar or Alexis or Peter, etc. In Latin, on the other hand, adding icus to Italia, villa or magus, for example, gives us italicus, villicus, and magicus, which signifies providing of characteristics, i.e. appertaining to Italy, to the villa, to the magician. It should now be pointed out that, except as mentioned above, the Slavic ich has no other applications. You will seek in vain to find place names in Slavia ending in ich, you will not find any even in the neighboring Slovenia or in the Val d'Isonzo, and only a few extremely rare ones in Dalmatia, while they are surprisingly concentrated just in western Istria within a large section from Trieste to Pola, i.e. in that very part of Istria where the vestiges of Rome and Venice are the most profound and most unmistakable. It is logical now that this fact gives the Slavs an argument, which has all the semblance of incontestability, to claim that Istria, precisely because it is so rich in names of families and localities ending in ich, is the most Slavic of all the Slav lands of this world, even more so than Slovenia which, even if it has a few surnames ending in ich, still has no toponyms with this ending!

First it must be noted that the Istrian and Dalmatian names ending in ich are either authentic or artificial. Let's begin with the latter. It was easy for those Slavic priests whom Austria had called into Istria in the past century to forge a birth certificate in Latin (perhaps even using erroneous ablative forms) and to take names such as Micheli, Fabbri, Lauri, Marini and change them to the Latin forms Michelis, Fabbris, Lauris, Marinis: and this was the first step. In the second step these surnames, also tampered by Slavic officials, undoubtedly became Marinich, Fabbrich, Laurich, Michelich. And what peasant would have argued against a priest and against a scribe who, so elegantly, indeed making use of Latin, were altering, i.e. slavicizing his surname? And what honest person today would not remove these surnames from the Slavic onomastic heritage and return them to the Italian to which they indisputably belong?

These names ending in ich are artificial. Followed by these are the authentic ich, names of families and localities, and before which one can not but be perplexed when you consider their roots, which are anything but Slavic. And we collect the examples into three groups:

1) Petrich, Marsich, Letich, Arich, Simich, Ostich, Cepich, Pavich, Mucich, Icich, Persich, Bursich, Sorich e Zorich, Sossich, Barbich, Diminich, Lovrinich, Gul­lich, Blasich, Zotich, Maurich, etc.

2) Babich, Schaurich, Primch, Roghich, Gustich, Viscovich, Silich, Rusich, Bicich, Roinich, etc.

3) Cociancich, Stanich, Motoancich, Resancich, Marsanich, Cancianich, Fabiancich, etc.

First we observe that the same Slavs, as always, tend to pronounce these names in the plural, i.e. they themselves do not say Cepich, Mucich, Icich, but Cépici, Múcici, Icici, etc.; secondly it takes little to realize that the root of these names are either Italic or Greek or barbaric, but absolutely not Slavic; finally we observe that the two last groups of names cited as examples, although it does not seem so, are in reality the most Latin of all. But then how do we explain the authenticity of the ich ending of all these names? We have already said that in Latin one who belonged to Italy or to Iberia was called italicus or ibericus.

For the same reason we have names like: Adriaticus, Veneticus, Histricus, Car­nicus, Flanaticus (from Fianona), Tarsaticus (from Fiume), etc. An ancient deity worshiped in Istria was Sexomnia Leucítica; in Roman tombstones of the first century A.D. we find names such as Túrica, Zóticus, Patàlicus or Pantàlicus; in other Roman tombstones of the third and fourth centuries A.D. we find names such as Bóicus, Làmbicus, Bàlbica, Névica, Flaémica; in Istrian documents of the High Middle Ages we find names such as Dominicus, Cancianicus, Mauricus, etc. Now, in order to indicate that one belonged to the city of Pola they were called polaticus, or veneticus if they belonged to the Veneti people, so that, son or servant, one who belonged to the family of Zotus was called Zóticus, and someone of the family of Nevius was called Névica, and someone of the family of Cancianus was called Cancianicus.

And just as today still in Istria, to indicate the members of the family, for example Maraston or Bibalo, they say Marastoni and Bibali, likewise to indicate the whole family of Caepius or Mucius they say Cépici and Múcici, just as today the same Slavic natives of Istria tend to pronounce these names without truncating, i.e. the i ending! And behold the other names (we mentioned in the first two groups) in what must have been their primitive form, and, in parentheses, the originating name:

Pétrici (Petrus), Màrsici (Marsus), Létici (Laetus), Arici (Arius), Símici (Simius), Óstici (Ostius), Pàvici (Pavus), Ícici (Icius) Pérsici (Persius), Búrsici (Bursus), Búrici (Burus), Sórici (Sorus), Sóssici (Sossus), Bàrbici (Barbus), Dimínici (Diminus), Lovrínici (Laurinus), Gúllici (Gullus), Blàsici (Blasus), Zótici (Zotus), Màurici (Maurus), Bàbici (Papius), Scàurici (Scaurus), Prìmici (Primus), Róghici (Trogus), Gústici (Augustus) Víscovici (Episcopus), Sílici (Silius), Rúsici (Drusus), Róinici (Rufinus), Bícici (Bicius).

We will add that some of these primitive forms underwent alterations, phonetically very logical, as well as additions, for example Símici is contracted to Simci, which, either for euphony or endearment or for deliberate slavicization is added an ich: Simcich. Thus Laurinus, Laurínici, Laurinci, Laurenci, Laurencich. Sórici is contracted and then truncated to Sorch. The derivation of Primus is interesting: Prímici, Primch, Prinz. Scaurici (from Scaurus) is palatalized, airing a German form, and becomes Schaurich. Bàbici becomes Bàici and Baicich.

In order to understand however the third group of names we cited it is necessary to resort to the following classic example. After the barbarian invasions, the peoples of the former Roman Empire no longer feel able to call themselves Romans, but only something similar or approximate: no longer Romans but Romanics, later Romansh and today Romance. Likewise the names of our third group: Sextus (later Sistus) was the owner of a podere (praedium, i.e. farm) and this poderem, to distinguish it from the others, was called by the name of the owner, Sextanum (Sistanum), as Anca­rianum (Ancarano) from Ancarius, Mummianum (Mo­miano) from Mummius, Stronianum (Strugnano) from Stronius, Paulinianum or Pavonianum (Paugnano) from Paulinus or Pavonius, etc. And here to indicate the inhabitants of Sistanum, masters and servants, they were called Sistànici and later Stànici. In the same way from the owner Cocceius we have Cocceianum and the family of Cocceianici which is contracted (just as romanics into romance) and becomes Coceianci and Cocianci, which, for the reasons given above, is added an ich: Cociancich. Thus Timótheus, Timotheànum, Motuanum, Motua­nici, Motoanci; Rhesus, Rhesanum, (from which get the name of the river Risano), Rhesànici, Resanci; Marsus, Marsanum, Marsànici; Cantius, Cantianum, Cantia­nici; Fabius, Fabianum, Fabianici, Fabianci, etc.

Consider now the Slavs who arrive in Istria and find themselves before all those names ending in ici: those who possess ich are instinctively, innocently brought to truncate the ending of those names. They replace the Latin ending ici with the Slavic ending ich, which is all the more understandable when you consider that the Slavic ich has a diminutive value, endearment which applied very well to the now poor peasants of isolated families in the countryside. In addition to this the Slavs began weighing original names and treating them according to their morphology and so from Marcus, Gellius, Paulus, Faber, Blasus, etc. they became the respective descendants: Marcovich, Gelovich, Pavlevich or Pav­lovich, Fabbrovich, Blasevich, etc.

The same phenomenon that has caused so many ici names in Istria to be truncated and later changed to ich, can be observed also in Dalmatia and the following few examples will suffice:

Lucich (Lucius), Livich (Livius), Cladich (Claudius), Ciuvich (Cluvius), Gelich (Gellius), Galich (Gallus), Giulich (Julius), Martich (Martius), Delich (Dellius), Pavlich (Paulus), Ursich (Ursus), Matich (Amatus); Radus, short for Corradus, became Radich while in Istria the diminutive Corradino, Corradín is abbreviated to Radìn.

It is our conviction that race or nationality is not a question of names or blood but only of sentiment. We are not so naive as to condemn a Bernardi or a Poletti or a Lenaz for feeling Slavic, even if the name Lenaz, for example, so strangely recalls that of the Roman praetor Gaius Popillius Laenas cited by Livy in XLI 14. And it is for this our conviction that we almost pity those Slavs who are found not to have any other better argument to be placed on the scale of "their" claims than a joke or indeed a fraud of onomastic character.