TATRA AREA RESEARCH GROUP
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Newsletter for December 2006 - January 2007
'St'astny Novy Rok' and 'Szczseliwego Nowego Roku' ('Happy New Year' in Slovak and Polish) to all our TARG members!
Great news: I am working to finish up an article about the Tatra Highlanders which will be the feature or lead article in the upcoming Spring issue of "Nase rodina," the CGSI's quarterly publication. It will be seven pages in length and includes a few vintage photos, some tables and a new map of the Tatra Highlanders' range. Look for it in March!
-- Paul K. Bingham
1. TARG's official website: http://www.e-TARG.org!
2. Helene B. Cincebeaux's new 2007 Treasure Tours Schedule is out! Go to her
website at: www.Our-Slovakia.com
SLOVAK SURNAME MEANINGS (Part 1)_________
Most Tatra family surnames are derived from a physical characteristic of the early ancestor, their profession, their place of origin or perhaps something from their natural surroundings. Here are a few Tatra Highlander surnames and their Slovak meanings. Some of them are pretty colorful!
BARAN = ram
BIEDA = destitution, beggary
BIZUB = bez (without) + zub (tooth)
BLAZON = fool
BOCHNIAK - bochnik means a cake or a loaf
BYLINA = herb
CHALUPKA - chalupa is a cottage
CHMEL = hop
CHOVANEC = a pupil or a boarder
CHROBAK = a beetle
CHYTIL = captured
DLHY = long
DULA = quince
FIGLYAR = jester, joker
GAZDA = farmer
GROF = earl, count
HALA = hall
HOJNOS - hojnost means plenty, abundant
HORAK = burner
HROBAK - hrob is a grave
HRUSKA = pear
IKONIAK - ikona means icon
JAVORSKY - javor means maple
JEDNOTA = unity
JELEN = deer
JEZ = hedgehog
KACICA = duckling
KAPUSTA = cabbage
KATOLICKA = Catholic
KAVA = coffee or cafe
KOCUR = tomcat
KOLAR = wheelwright
KOMINAK - komin is a chimney
KOVAC = blacksmith
KOZUB = fireplace
KRAL = king
TATRA MOUNTAINS BOOK - PART 10__________
Chapter 5 "Folk Dances":
"The fundamental motive of the Goral dance is, as in most folk dances, the wooing of the girl by the boy. As may be expected of a manly and warlike race, the boy finds the way to her heart by showing to the best advantage his strength and nimbleness. But this is not enough; he must also please her by his song and a display of ready wit. This conception makes the girl's part largely passive and in any case, secondary. In two of the local dances: the 'drobny' (which may be translated as 'small-step') and the 'krzesany' (which most nearly means 'whetted' or 'hewn'), she flees seductively from her pursuing partner, with her hands poised on her hips. In the 'zbojnicki' (or famous 'robber's dance'), men perform alone. It was originally danced around a bonfire, the dancers facing each other and beating the rhythm on the ground with their hatchet handles. The figures of this dance are somewhat similar to the 'Cossack', but differently timed, and one of them, as can be seen on old glass paintings, was a jump across the fire. It was the highest achievement, as the paintings indicate, simultaneously to drain a bottle of wine with one hand, and press the trigger of a pistol with the other. Since the robbers have passed away, no living man seems to have
performed the trick.
"In the remaining dances there are only two dancers, a girl and a boy out on the floor, while the others await their turn - so at least they are supposed to do, if they respect tradition. Two or three-stringed fiddles and a base make the band. The bass is usually small, like a cello, and is carried by the musician at his belt. Double basses are allowed occasionally.
The fiddler, when playing, doesn't hold the fiddle against his shoulder, but props it against his left chest, beating time with his right foot on the floor. And so the dance goes on. The lad, before beginning the dance, steps out to the middle of the floor, faces the orchestra and sings the tune he wants to be played. All dance tunes are also songs, most of them traditional, though existing in many variations. But the tortuous way to the heart of the beloved is much more thorny than that. To be really smart he has to improvise words to the traditional tune and to make them as funny and topical as he can contrive. The performance over, he puts a tip into the bass. This is an old custom, and once Janosik used to shower into it silver thalars and golden coins with a generous hand. This is a robbers' dance which is certainly an extremely strenuous exercise, and requires 'legs as of steel or by devils given' - no chance for crooked ones. Yet someone summed up the situation with a sense of humor in this version of the song:
The freebooters come to dance,
To a cellar all of stone.
And they bid the players play,
And watch as their feet go round! Hey!
Oh, I should be glad to dance,
If my legs were not so crook'd,
But the crooked legs I've got,
Up I jump and down they bend! Hey!
The Tatra Highlanders are fond of music and Janosik's example forbids meanness towards the bass, which makes playing a profitable and respected profession. The instruments and the tunes are passed from father to son and there are families who have played for many generations, extending back to Janosik himself, and perhaps to still older times."
(Chapter 5 "Folk Dances" continues in our next issue.)
This is the "column" in which I share printed sources of information about subjects of interest to those researching their roots in and around the Tatras. This month I will tell you of one of the textbooks I am using to learn Slovak. It is "Colloquial Slovak" by James Naughton published by Routledge. The small 288-page paperback book is excellent, covering all the points of common grammar in an easy to understand fashion. For compactness there are not very many examples of each point, however, and this would be my only fault with the book. It is for beginners and cassettes and CDs can also be purchased. I find these recordings a huge help with learning pronunciation, although please know that the English in them is British English. The Slovak is from native Slovak speakers. The book and CDs should be available through any of the bigger bookstore chains in the U.S. for as little as $20.
To contact the TARG Editor, the new e-mail address is: TatraAreaResearchGroupgmail. Our "snail" mailing address is still TARG, P.O. Box 3533, Escondido, CA 92033. use it for sending in orders or photos and anything else you want to share with the group. (If for some reason you are unable to contact us at the new address above, go ahead and use the old address targ_nethotmail by clicking here.)
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