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Ashkenazic Surnames
Posted: 22 January 2014 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Additional to LH’s comment on “Rothenberg”: burg and berg are confused in the article.  Burg is a fortress, and Berg (as LH pointed out) is a hill or mountain.

“Dreyfus” is unlikely to be “three footed”.  The name is common in the Rhine Valley ( Germany and Alsace/France) so a more likely origin is from the town of Trevis, old name for Trier on the Mosel.  Note called “Treves” in French, closer to the original latin.

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Posted: 22 January 2014 02:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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May not be the origin of the name, but at least one branch of the Dreyfus family chose to call themselves Threefoot.

“My maternal grandmother, Inez Levy Blumm, was related to the Dreyfus family that emigrated from Alsace to Mississippi in the mid 1800s. I am seeking information about this family. The Dreyfus family also took the name Threefoot when they arrived in the US.”

http://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.dreyfus/1/mb.ashx

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Posted: 22 January 2014 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I’d like to take Dara Horn’s article, which Dave has cited, to task. She says:

Lieb means lion in Yiddish,” we are told. Actually, leyb means lion in Yiddish (with the vowel sound ey as in “hey”), while lib (the word that sounds like the German word lieb) is a verb form for “love”—as it is in German; this error requires an ignorance of two languages.

This implies that there is such a thing as standard Yiddish. Well, there is, but it’s an artificial creation. The pronunciation is largely taken from Lithuanian Yiddish, which isn’t terribly representative, and before the late 19th century there wasn’t anything that even pretended to be standard. Vowels are the great shibboleth between the dialects: see, for example, http://gothicyiddish.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/four-great-vowel-systems-of-yiddish.html

It would be unwise to draw any firm conclusions from the way a particular name is transliterated at any given point in history as to the origin of the name. So does Liebowitz derive from the word meaning lion, or the word meaning ‘dear’ (more likely than a verb form for ‘love’, though obviously the words are related)? She doesn’t say, I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone does. At least the evidence a cursory search has been able to turn up is inconclusive.

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Posted: 23 January 2014 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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May not be the origin of the name, but at least one branch of the Dreyfus family chose to call themselves Threefoot.

from the same site:
http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=dreyfus

Don’t see much evidence presented in either case, but there is more than one possible origin!  Which I think is one of the objections to the original article; a limited set of “facts” are set out with no options or scale of likelihood.

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