Why do some Greek surnames end with “oğlu” which means “son of” in Turkish?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-04 | Comments: 2 Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

The proper answer is Kutluk Ozguven’s: Kutluk Ozguven’s answer to Why do some Greek surnames end with “oğlu” which means “son of” in Turkish?

Turkish Republic did not enforce surnames to its population before 1934. Turks had patronymous names like in Arabic countries or Iceland.

However Greeks and Armenians used family surnames of their choice. Unlike post-nationalist myths Greek Orthodox and Muslim populations were closer and more dependant to each other […]

Population exchange between Greece and Turkey was from 1923–1933. […]

Since Oglou was a sign of Turkish migration who were scorned upon in their arrival, many might have changed to more mainland Greek surmames.

Some didn’t bother.

Indeed: –oglou is a patronymic suffix specific to the descendants of refugees in Greece from Asia Minor; I’m not aware of any serious traditional usage within Greece in the 19th century. As Kutluk pointed out, Christians took up Turkish surnames in Turkey before Muslims did.

Often, that surname suffix was dropped by the arrivals in Greece, in favour of something more Hellenic. And nothing is more Hellenic than the Ancient Greek patronymic –ides. (Because of how memes happen, –ides also supplanted the Greek Pontic patronymic –ant[is], as in Ypsilanti[s].)

So if you see a surname ending in –ides, chances are the bearer is descended from Asia Minor. (Or Cypriot, where –ides also came into vogue. And these really are matters of vogue: in Crete –akis is universal as a surname suffix, and it was unknown before the 19th century.)

The surname Σαλπιγκτίδης Salpingtides, for example, is quite Hellenic, and rather challenging to romanise (you’ll usually see it as Salpigktidis in English.) It’s Ancient Greek for “bugler-son”—and it’s a transparent Hellenisation of Borazancıoğlu.

Some refugees refused to switch their surnames. The father of my coauthor George Baloglou was a refugee from Sille, near Konya. He kept his surname, which is Turkish for “honey-son”. Most of his extended family switched it to the Hellenised Melidis.


  • GK says:

    You sure are overly and annoyingly political in what is supposedly an blog on etymologies.

    • David Marjanović says:

      You’re joking, right?

      BTW, -ides is also how Russian patronymics were rendered in 18th-century Latin.

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