I'm reading Kharms (again). And a friend of mine warned me that some of the names Kharms uses may actually have some meaning that are lost in translation (like in the example of Mr. Joker, Ms. Cow, Mr. Mouse, Mr. Cat, Mr. Flatulent, etc.) which adds another dimension to the stories. I extracted some of the names in the stories. I need help figuring out if these names imply something:

  • Petrov
  • Kamarov
  • Makarov
  • Petersen
  • Petrakov-Gorbunov
  • Pritikin
  • Serpuhov
  • Kurova
  • Koratigin
  • Tikakeev
  • Mashkin
  • Koshkin
  • Oknov
  • Kozlov
  • Stryuchkov
  • Motylkov
  • Susanin
  • Pakin
  • Rakukin
  • Olga Petrovna
  • Evdokim Osipovich

Edit: I have compared two different translations, and noticed that in one of the translations (Matvei Yankelevich) some of the names were translated as Catov, Mosquitov, etc. But since I didn't see the same in the other translation (Neil Cornwell), I wanted to make sure that the translation is accurate.

  • 1
    Hello canpolat. While your question is fine for our site, it could use some improvements. For example, have you made some prior research before asking? As per the FAQ, providing research effort is required for translations. But apart from that, it would help the others to answer more effectively.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 16:09
  • @Alenanno, Thank you for the friendly warning. I've updated the question, but since I cannot read Russian, my research abilities were quite limited.
    – some user
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 17:52

2 Answers 2

  1. Petrov - native surname, derivide from name Petr
  2. Kamarov - native surname, derived from word, that translates like Mosqito
  3. Makarov - native surname, derived from long-forgotten first name Makar
  4. Petersen - most probably imported surname.
  5. Petrakov-Gorbunov - double surname, first is derivide from Petr name using, but in indirect manner. Gorbunov is derived from Gorbun (Hunchback)
  6. Pritikin - is derived from Pritik. Затык may be roughly translated as point of problem, and приткнутся may be roughly translated as 'to make a stop'
  7. Serpuhov - is derived from серп - sickle or, may be серпуха - a kind of plant. Also, a city name.
  8. Kurova - is derived from Курица, female mature chicken. This word may mark stupid woman.
  9. Koratigin - has root from короткий - short.
  10. Tikakeev - cannot find origin
  11. Mashkin - derived from inpolite form of Maria.
  12. Koshkin - derived from кошка - female cat. BTW, Машкин-Кошкин used in place of surename may be used to mark some lowlife, insignificant person.
  13. Oknov - derived from окно - window
  14. Kozlov - derived from козел, male goat. This word is often used to mark (stupid) bastard and to make insults.
  15. Stryuchkov - derivied from стручок, silique. This word may mark small, but, errgh, agressive person.
  16. Motylkov - derivide from Мотылек, kind of butterfly
  17. Susanin - is strongly connected with name of Сусанин, Иван Осипович and spawned some verbs, like засусанить - to mislead into wilderness.
  18. Pakin - no guess
  19. Rakukin - no guess
  20. Olga Petrovna - plane regular name with patronimic
  21. Evdokim Osipovich - plane regular name with patronimic, but both name and father's name are not very popular today.
  • засусанить, обсусанить и отсусанить
    – shabunc
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 17:50
  • Thank you for the great answer. I'll re-read the stories to see if this choice of naming is significant or not.
    – some user
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 17:56
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    Mashka is not really impolite, it is just casual like Danny or Jenny.
    – A-K
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 2:14
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    Komarov derives from komar, that is mosquito. Kamarov must have a different origin.
    – A-K
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 2:16
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    @A-K not necessary. It may be some transliteration issue or misspelling made official.
    – permeakra
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 7:15

In addition to the excellent permeakra's answer, I just want to add info about "no guess" surname.

This is about Pakin:

Фамилия Пакин восходит к диалектному глаголу «пакинать», который в новгородских, псковских и тверских говорах означает «учащать посещеньями; угождать».

so, it had been derived from dialectal verb пакинать, which can be translated as to oblige. But - but! - I'm pretty sure that Harms actually didn't have any intention to play with this meaning. I guess he used it just for fun.

As of Rakukin this is indeed a conundrum. You see, Pakin is relatively rare russian surname, but Rakukin is way rarer. I, once again, can make a bold conjecture - Harms used it as accidentally as he used Pakin )

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