If there is such a nation as Belarus, then there should be purely Belarusian family names. In the mid-20th century, academician Nikolay Birillo began searching for Belarusian family names. Family names ending with 'vich', such as Mitskevich or 'sky', such as Ivanovsky denote nobility. Scientists say that names ending with 'vich' appeared in the 15th century while those with 'sky' date back to the 17th century. Meanwhile, names ending with 'ov' — such as Ivanov — only appeared in the 19th century; they are similar to those met in Russia and Ukraine. Belarusian names have unique national features, being formed from the name of professions, animals and plants: Gonchar (potter), Kravets (tailor), Zhaba (frog). Later, these simple names were supplemented with specific endings — depending on the locality: 'eiko' (Domeiko), 'ushko' (Adamushko), 'ik' (Davydik), as a result, more complicated family names appeared.
Last year, sixteen girls in Minsk were named Eva, but there were no Adams registered. Thus, fashion is important while choosing first names.
The same names do not remain popular forever. Natasha was extremely popular about half a century ago; now it isn't. Film and book characters have always been popular and, today, parents are choosing names relating to the church calendar. Among the rarest names are Taisia, Dominika, Karolina and Evelina. Vera, Nadezhda and Lyubov are also less popular, unlike Sofia. For boys, Alexander is popular, while Victor has lost its popularity.
Double names are rarely met, however, an interesting case has been registered in Minsk. A 28-year-old mother and 32-year-old father named their daughter Yelizaveta. Unfortunately, the baby was born needing help to breathe. Her mother prayed to the Virgin Mary and a miracle happened; their daughter recovered. The parents then decided to add another name, so their daughter became Yelizaveta-Maria — in honour of the saint who saved her life. We arc responsible in selecting names, as we see them not as labels but as names that may govern destiny.
2. The author tells us about some national features in Belarusian last names. Find this extract and read it aloud.
3. How do parents choose names for their children?
4. Why did Nikolay Birillo decide to study Belarusian family names?