Conference „Family names’ relations to other name categories“

Organizers: Võro Institute and Institute of the Estonian Language

Date: October 22nd, 2020

Location: Tartu street 48, Võru, Estonia


The derivation of family names from other name categories is clearly visible among nations that’s last names derive from patronymic name system, such as Swedes or Russians. Still, the family names of different nations in the Baltic Sea region vary a lot. For instance, this region includes Eastern Finland where the hereditary surnames origin from medieval times, as well as regions where official family names were given/taken in the 20th century. In the beginning of the 19th century, Estonian and Latvian peasants were required to have family names that may include local farm and bynames. However, the name givers had to often come up with new names as well. If necessary, the names were inspired by bible or atlas.


Among our neighboring nations, the names have been impacted by Russian, German, and Swedish rulers. Finland and Estonia both have a lot of family names that have gone through either a Finnicization or Estoniazation. Unlike Estonia, Finland and Latvia have both been reformatting their last name spellings in accordance with the modernization of their languages.


A family name does not have to be the final link of a name chain. For instance, a Baltic German family name Wrangell that originates from Estonian place name Varangu has informed place names all over the world. In Estonia, the family and place name Prangli are both based on the Wrangell name, as well as on the place name Prangli the verb pranglima that means “to compete in computing”.


The conference calls for presentations that explore the origin of family names; typological comparisons among different languages, the questions of pronunciation and declination; as well as the family names’ influence on place names, company and product names, and on local slang; and other themes related to family names.



Registration and other relevant information


Conference will be held in Estonian, Finnish, and/or English. The presentations will not be translated. The authors of the book of Estonian family names will participate in the conference.


Register for the conference. The deadline for registering is September 15th, 2020. If you wish to participate with a 30-minute presentation (20 minutes for presenting, 10 minutes for discussion), please add the title (this can be changed later) and thesis of your presentation when registering in one of the abovementioned languages.


There is no conference fee. Dining and housing in Võru should be arranged by the participant. There will be coffee breaks provided by the conference organizer.


Registered participants can come to the conference with the bus that departs from Tallinn on October 22nd at 8 a.m. and will make a stop in Tartu. There will be a bus free of charge driving back to Tallinn in the afternoon on October 23rd.


The next conference letter with initial schedule will be sent to the registered participants in the beginning of October.


The organizers may cancel the conference if required by the situation of Estonian healthcare.


In case you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at:

Võru Instituut, Tartu tn 48, 65609 Võru, Estonia


phone (+372)782 8750 (Annika Teppo, secretary)

phone (+372)562 13174 (Evar Saar, researcher in onomastics)


Looking forward to seeing you at the conference!




See previous conferences