What is it about names?


‘How do you pronounce your name? ‘ ‘I hope I did not butcher it’ ‘Did I say it right?’

Well it depends. First of all the ‘J’ is silent. Most people sound like they are choaking when they say it…’CHAUG-J-NA-SCU-SKEE’  

And it depends of whether you are pronouncing it the americanized way that my husband’s family did or the Polish way.  My husband pronounces it as “CHO – NOW-SKI” with the ‘CH’ having the same sound as the ‘ch’ in ‘chair’.

In Polish, the ‘C’ is also dropped: ‘HOY -NUFF-SKI’.  Emphasis on the “Hoy’, and having the back of your tongue sticking to the roof of your mouth.Some of the ways I have seen it spelled are:  Hojnowski, Hajnowaki, Hojinski, Chajnasky, Choynowsky,  Choynuvsky, Chaynaski, Chszanewska, Cinzewski, Choinowsky. Researching the name has been very challenging to say the least, even with using the soundex system*.

My mother-in-law’s maiden name was even worse: ‘SZYMCZAK‘  Say what?? It is easier to pronounce though: ‘SHIM-SHOCK‘, and some of her family switched to spelling their surname that way. Another, funny thing is –is that ‘SZYMCZAK‘  is more common than ‘CHOJNOWSKI‘.

Now would you like to know what my maiden name is ???

‘Drum roll’

now wait…..

it is ….


It makes a nice ice breaker or something to amuse the cashier when paying for my groceries.

Well that’s all for now…*I’ll explain the SOUNDEX system next time.

Pat aka Pattymae

P.S. (Now that I have explained how my husband’s family pronounced his family surnames, I’m sure there are others who say it differently. That’s alright, because after all, that is simply the way they always did.)

My Great Grandfather Fredrick Smith with his parents William and Maggie and siblings.
My Great Grandfather Fredrick Smith with his parents William and Maggie and siblings.

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