Małgorzata
Emblematic (sur)names in different languages
Hi There!

Bored during the lockdown, I hit on an idea to compare one interesting thing in different languages. I noticed that in several languages, as well as in my native one - Polish - exists a name, used for describing an ordinary person from a respective country or for giving examples (e.g. in document samples). In English that would be Mr/Mrs Smith, in Polish - Jan Kowalski. What is curious, polish 'kowal', which is a stem for 'Kowalski' means Smith. I started to wonder how it can be in other languages... It can show somehow what was important in various countries when surnames started to appear. If I gather enough data, I will put it nicely on a map.

If anyone would like to help out, please write in a comment what is this name or surname in language you can speak, and, if relevant, in which country is it used and what does it mean. Or maybe it doesn't exist?

Thanks and Cheers!
Małgorzata
May 12, 2020 4:37 PM
Comments · 18
You're most welcome @Małgorzata ... one is glad to be of service.
May 21, 2020
@Małgorzata - it is. But I've only ever seen it used in information material by the government or some companies. I've never heard it spoken.
"Otto Normalverbraucher" on the other hand features in conversations.

P.S.: I think I need to start revisiting things I post a while later. Sometimes I don't notice typos. :(
May 20, 2020
For Hebrew, my teacher used to use "Ploni Almoni," which are apparently names from the Bible.

In the U.S., John and Jane Doe are used for unidentified corpses but also in legal cases where the complaining party wants to keep his/her identity secret.

And wouldn't you know there'd be a Wikipedia article on the concept?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_placeholder_names_by_language
May 17, 2020
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Małgorzata
Language Skills
Czech, English, Hungarian, Polish
Learning Language
Czech, Hungarian