Post by ***@gmail.com Post by ***@gmail.com Post by Scott Lurndal Post by Dorothy J Heydt
On Wednesday, August 25, 2021 at 9:10:04 AM UTC-4, Dorothy J
Try 'Trei', or as I usually say it if someone needs to enter it into
something: "Trei spelt T R E I"
I sometimes tell people "Heydt, rhymes with 'bright.'"
Most people either miss spell, or mispronounce it. There's only
a couple hundred people in the US with that name.
OK, how do you pronounce it? What does it rhyme with? I've
never ventured to ask.
Hmm. Were it germanic, I'd expect it to rhyme with 'try';
just on first glance, 'tray' would likely be a first attempt
It is pronounced 'tray'. It's of Estonian origin, with a probably
untrue story attached to its origin.
Would you like to share the probably untrue story of its origin?
Why not. Understand that I'm telling the story as it
was told to me when I was about 10. I haven't fact-checked
it in any way. There are probably multiple historic errors.
Estonia has spent most of its history since the 13th century (when the
Teutonic Knights invaded; Estonia was one of the last places in Europe
to be Christianized) being passed among the more powerful nations
of the area, particularly Sweden and Russia. At the time we're talking
about, Catherine the Great of Russia held sway.
Back then, the Estonian serfs had a naming system to similar
to Iceland's, a child taking the parent's first name, adding 'son' or
'daughter' (or the Estonian equivalents) and using that as their
This made record keeping difficult, so Katherine decreed that
all serfs would be given the persisting patronymics used in most
of Europe today, and sent out hundreds of her German courtiers
(she had a thing for Germans) to give the families names.
The heads of families lined up in each town to be given names.
The German courtiers didn't speak Estonian (no surprise), but gave
the heads of households names - sometimes very literal and descriptive,
'Big Nose', 'Blue eyes', etc, but in German, which the serfs didn't speak.
Allegedly, my ancestor was utterly ordinary, with no interesting
distinguishing traits. However, in that town, he was the third guy in line.
So, he got 'Drei' as a name.
In Estonian, an initial 'D' and an initial 'T' are indistinguishable, so it
got written down as 'Trei'.
Add a little linguistic drift, and you get 'Trei', pronounced (at least in
English) as 'tray'. My Estonian-born grandmother pronounced it
a bit closer to 'Drei', further in the back of her mouth.
Again, almost certainly apocryphal.
But entirely believable.
Welshmen used to use patronymics too. You were not only known as
the son of your father, but as the son of your father, son of his
father, son of his father, et cetera for at least a dozen
generations. Meeting another Welshman for the first time, you'd
both go back through the generations (sometimes adding
place-names, e.g. "Madoc ap Cynan of Caerleon") till you got far
enough back that you could find the most tenuous of kinships
between the two of you. And then you were kin, so that was all
England conquered Wales in the early Middle Ages (I'd have to
look up when exactly), and over a couple of centuries the English
got more and more annoyed with having to attempt to keep track of
Welsh genealogies. So they demanded that the Welsh take last
names that would be handed down unchanged from generation to
A lot of Welsh names simply took the phrase "ap [name]" and
dropped the initial "a". So "ap Richard" became "Pritchard, "ap
Huw" became "Pugh," and so on.
A lot of other Welsh names simply took the genitive case of the
patronymic, yielding "Richards" and "Hughes" and so on. And
"Jones," meaning "son of John."
There were undoubtedly a lot of Welshmen whose Christian name was
"John;" it was a popular name and still is. But there were a
good many Welshmen who decided to undercut the purpose of the
English by choosing "Jones" never mind what their patronymic had
been. There were times and places where to say "He's a Jones"
meant "He's a rebel."
So there are a lot of Joneses in Wales to this day, and if half
the people in your village are named Jones, you add a word to
distinguish them from each other. So Jones the butcher becomes
"Jones the meat," Jones who runs the local cinema becomes "Jones
the flicks," Jones the greengrocer becomes "Jones the vedge."
So when Princess Margaret married Anthony Armstrong-Jones, in
good time the Queen named him Earl of Snowdon. And the word went
around, "You know Jones the camera, who became Jones the palace?
Now he's Jones the mountain."
And there's the story, probably not based in fact, about the
English census taker who was sent to a little Welsh village to do
a head-count, asking at each house for the name of the head of
household. And he went up and down the little streets, knocking
at each door, and at each house the answer to his question was
Up and down he went, "John Jones," "John Jones," till finally he
gave up: "Every man in this village is named John Jones!"
But he was wrong, because at the end of the last street there lived
a man named William Williams.
Dorothy J. Heydt
djheydt at gmail dot com