Some time ago we wrote about the fun to be had translating Turkish surnames and gave some examples. Now we add a few more amusing tales.

Some time ago we wrote about the fun to be had translating Turkish surnames and gave some examples.

Since that article a couple more amusing tales of the origins of surnames have appeared so here we go.  The Turks only adopted surnames in the 1920s and many of them chose names that reflected the head of the family’s profession.  Fethiye Times knows a family in Fethiye with the interesting surname of ‘Karpuz’ which means ‘watermelon’.  However, the head of the family was neither a watermelon grower nor a seller of the fruit.  He made his living collecting snow and ice from the mountains and transporting it down to Fethiye for sale to fishmongers.  So he decided the family surname should be ‘Karbuz’ – literally ‘Snow-ice’ but he didn’t reckon with the hearing of the official charged with registering surnames who thought he said ‘karpuz’ and registered him as such.

As the registration process dragged on the civil servants transcribing the new surnames became increasingly frustrated with what seemed like an endless task.  They became impatient to the point where the first word uttered by an applicant became their surname.  So when you meet someone called ‘Gunaydin’ – not an uncommon surname in Turkey – you know that family were victims of bureaucratic frustration, whose ancestor walked into the registration office and politely said ‘Good morning’ to the official on duty, only to find that became his family name.

If you have any other stories relating to Turkish surnames, or interesting examples of the actual names, please send them in.

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