szigetvari’s name

What’s in a name?
—Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2,2,1

Some people are interested in the sources of names. Here’s my story.

Szigetvár is a town in southern Hungary. Szigetvári [ˈsigɛtʋaːɾi] is an adjective meaning ‘coming from or belonging to Sz.’ Many Hungarian family names are similar, some are spelt with -y at the end, others with -i, like mine. Names with -y were formerly associated with “noble” families, -i is the plebeian version.

My family never had anything to do with Szigetvár though. My father’s name at birth was Cziegelwagner, a partly Hungarianized spelling of German Ziegelwagner meaning ‘brick transporter’. The family changed it to sound more Hungarian in 1948, because in those days you could easily find yourself deported to Germany if you had such a name. Sometimes brothers have made different decisions, so families have split. This is also a very common story in Hungary.

On the web I usually use szigetva. This comes from the early 1990s, when the admin of budling.nytud.hu generated this as my username. There must have been a limit of 8 characters. It stuck.

© szigetvari-AT-elte-DOT-hu
last touched 2012-12-28 12:27:21 +0100