FAQ Friday #1

Welcome to my very first FAQ Friday post!

I thought I would start with the #1 most asked question that I get – our NAMES. (I actually like these questions.) Living in America, rather than Ukraine, our names are foreign and possibly confusing. Once upon a time, everything about the Russian language and culture was bizarre to me, so I understand.

My husband’s name is Denys, pronounced like the girl’s name, but most of the time I just call him Den. When we go to a restaurant or meet new people and they ask for his name, he will say “Dennis”. Drives me crazy. He is trying to make it easier for people but in the end it just confuses people more. Numerous times I have been talking to someone about “Denys” and they pause…. “Wait, is your husband’s name Denys? He told me it was Dennis.” Then there is more explaining to do. Anyway, not a big deal, I’m just a fan of calling somebody by their actual name.

Our oldest son is named Aleksandr. Looking back now, I realize I could have done him a favor by at least putting an “e” before the “r”, but either way, he doesn’t go by Aleksandr. We call him Sasha. People always assume Sasha is a girl, until they actually see him. So here is the thing, Sasha is a “short name” for Aleksandr and Aleksandra, meaning it can be for a girl or boy. There are A LOT of people named Sasha in Ukraine, or at least it seemed like it to me. There are other “short names” for Aleksandr, like Sanya and Shurik, but I only use Sasha. My husband uses almost all of them.

On to our other little boy, his name is Liev. Liev is the Russian version of Leo. My great grandpa’s name is Leo and so I thought it would be nice to somehow pass it down. I tell people that it is pronounced “Lee-ehv”. (When you are speaking Russian, it actually is pronounced slightly different, but it requires doing things weird things with your tongue.) So, call him Liev or Leo, either is just fine with us. The direct translation is “lion”, which I feel like fits him perfectly!

Are you still with me!?!? Bless your heart. I will just quickly say that both of my sons have the same “middle name”. It is actually a patronymic name, meaning it’s derived from their dad’s name, Denys. So their middle name is Denysovich. Fun, huh!? Oh man, do I even want to talk about our last name?? Like I said though, this is the most frequently asked question we get.

Our last name is Fedotov. Except for me, I guess. I am Fedotova. I get a little special “a” at the end because I’m a girl. It makes the word feminine. ALL words have gender in Russian. If you ever wondered, a book is feminine, a couch is masculine. Just saying. 97 out of 100 people have a hard pronouncing our last name. Fed-O-tov(a) is the best way I can describe it. The ‘o’ after the ‘d’ is the long vowel sound, all the rest are short vowel sounds. It’s okay if you have no clue what I’m talking about. Let’s just be done.

Who’s still reading? Was that even interesting? Did it make any sense? Honestly, I could talk about Russian language, culture, history, and literature forever… but I won’t. You’re welcome. 🙂


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