Word of the Day

Friday, June 20, 2014

Galina 'Red' Reznikov

That's the name of a Russian character played by an American actress in Orange is the New Black. But a real Russian woman would have to be called Reznikova (Резникова), as the surname suffix -ov gets the ending a in the feminine. Reznikov (Резников) is derived from reznik (резник), stress on the first syllable, a word meaning chisel, engraver, carver in Russian. Czech has a cognate, řezník, "butcher". Both the Czech and the Russian word have to do with cutting, řezat in Czech, rezať (резать) in Russian.

Talking about butchers, Wikipedia has some interesting information on the names Reznik, Reznikov and variations: В некоторых местностях Украины этим словом называли любого мясника, не обязательно еврейского — отсюда русские и украинские фамилии, обыкновенно в вариантах «Резниченко» и «Резников».

That is: In some Ukrainian localities this word was used to refer to any butcher, not necessarily a Jew (as they write above that the last names Reznik, Reznikov and variations refer to a person performing an animal ritual slaughter, a shoichet). That gave rise to the Russian and Ukrainian surname, usually in the variants Reznichenko and Reznikov.

The word they use for butcher, myasnik, is a cognate of Slovak mäsiar, with the same meaning, derived from Slovak mäso (Czech maso, Polish mięso, Russian myaso - мясо, and similar words in all other Slavic languages) all meaning meat or flesh. 

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