Anyone familiar with Polish surnames, and also able to read really sloppy handwriting?
May 3, 2008 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Is anyone familiar with Polish language/surnames, and also able to read really sloppy handwriting? I'm trying to make out this one name off a census form. It's the bottom name in this picture:
posted by Ashley801 to Society & Culture (5 answers total)
I'll tell you what I see.

P k avprska Tillie

posted by gjc at 11:26 AM on May 3, 2008

Those are not possible Polish names, and v is not used in Polish.

It looks like PVklaCVrska or possibly PVklaCVwska (using V for any vowel and C for any consonant), depending on what's behind that blotch in the middle, but I haven't been able to google up any Polish names that fit (it's clearly not Pokladowska or Pilarowska). You may have to check with an actual Pole.
posted by languagehat at 12:27 PM on May 3, 2008

I love a good mystery!
Did you get the image from Their transcription of the name is Peklavprska. What I'm seeing is Pekla__rska, and the letter right after the "A" does indeed look to me like a V.
However, it's not really relevant what a valid Polish name is/was; the census takers were notoriously bad at spelling names they were unfamiliar with, especially if the person being enumerated was not a native English speaker. In this same census, my Aunt Katie was listed as "Frankie", and her family's last name was garbled beyond recognition, into something impossible for their native language/ethnicity. We only found them because we knew the names of some nearby families and browsed the pages until we found the right family grouping.
You might try poking around this excellent website -- click on the "Słownika Nazwisk Współcześnie w Polsce Używanych" link to get to a database of Polish surnames as discussed on this website. One of the names that came up when I searched for "p?kl" was Poklęgowska, which seems closer than most of the other possibilities I've seen.
Depending on what else you know about her and what you're trying to find out, there are a bunch of things I can think of to try tracking her down. Feel free to mefimail me or post in-thread with more details if you want to follow some of the possible leads.
posted by katemonster at 5:29 PM on May 3, 2008

Is it Polish handwriting? Because the letter after the a, which others has suggested is a v is very much like how a Polish person would write an r.

If it's not a Polish person writing, then I'm with Katemonster, the spelling could be completely unrelated to the name.
posted by Helga-woo at 2:21 AM on May 4, 2008

Do you have more of that page available? With enough samples of that person's handwriting, you can make an "alphabet sampler" showing how he/she wrote each individual letter. That might help you decipher the entry in question.
posted by ebellicosa at 5:08 PM on May 4, 2008

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