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polish pronunciation of the last name Jankowna> I am aware that the J is pronouned like a Y and the w like a v but am not sure about the na.

Dear Doris,

this surname should be written "Jankówna" (o with an accent) and pronounced:


'ah' as 'a' in 'father'

All the best


Comment - Thank you very much for your very prompt response. Our Janicki family is going to have a family get-to-gather of the first cousins in May and one of them discovered this name in our family ancestry. Now I will be able to pronounce it correctly. Originally, there were 33 of us and now we are down to 21, but with spouses are group numbers 43. Michalena Jankowna was our fraternal great-grandmother. She married Stanley Janicki in 1802 in Kotbrab, Poland.


Dear Doris,

Thanks for your nice words. It's good you have written more details to me as I can be of help again. (Previously I had no tine to develop my answer).

I think that the Polish first name of your ancestor was Michalina, not 'Michalena'.
That is the Polish spelling. Pronunciation: [mee-hah-LEE-nah]. 'Mee' as in "meet", 'hah' as the word "huh!", 'LEE' (stressed) as in "general Lee", 'nah' with "ah" as in "father" (you know it already).

The correct spelling of the town (or rather village) where they got married is most probably not 'Kotbrab' but Kołdrąb (Koldrab, with two Polish special letters). The first one is the "l" with a bar, which (especially if handwritten) may look like "t" to an unacustomed eye. It is pronounced like English "w". The second one is the "a" with "ogonek" ("tail"), which is pronounced like English "ong" (or similar, depending on the neighborhood, here: 'om' because of the following "b"). The final "b" is devoiced to a "p".

l/ = ł:
a, = ą:
o' = ó (you've met it earlier):
z* = ż (you'll meet it below):

Altogether the name of the village is pronounced [KOWD-rawmp] (the first syllable stressed) - 'KOWD' like the English word "code" (in zip-code), 'rawmp' almost like "romp-" in "Romper Stomper", only the letter "o" is more like English "aw" in "raw".

Kołdrąb is a historical known village:

See also the Polish Wikipedia webpage:

The village was first mentioned in 1326, the first owner of the village was certain 'Benyamin de Coldramb', with the coat of arms "Zaremba". It used to have a fortified castle at that time till maybe end of 17th century.
Now, it is located in the municipality (gmina) of Janowiec Wielkopolski, county (poviat) of Znin (Żnin, Z with a dot above), province (voivodship) of Kuyavia-Pomerania (Kujawsko-pomorskie).

The surname "Jankówna" is a form of the surname customarily given to an unmarried woman, the male form of which (of her father's surname) is "Janek". In earlier times it was common to write these forms even in official papers, nowadays these forms are used in speech, not in writing, so if she were living today in her marriage licence would be written "Janek". (pronounce" [YAH-neck]). 'Janek' is a diminutive of "Jan", being the Polish equivalent of "John", so either her father's surname (family name) was "Johnny", or else this 'surname' (Jankówna) wasn't a real surname, only a patronymic word meaning "daughter of Johnny". But it is probable that it was a real surname, same as "Janicki" (pronouce [yah-NEETS-key]) is, because in these parts of Poland surnames were commonly used by everybody, not only by the noblemen, as imposed by the laws of Prussia (after the first partition of Poland) since the end of the 18th century, about 1780-1790 (I am not certain of the exact date).

Read more:

For the present day repartition of the surname 'Janek' in Poland by county (census of 2001), see:

If you move your mouse over the green "worm" covering 4 counties in the upper middle part of the country, the Southernmost of them will show the label "Inowroclaw" (Inowrocław). Then move your mouse one county North-West, and the label "Znin" (Żnin) should appear. This is the county from where Janicki and Jankówna originanted, despite the fact that the area is white now, which means nobody bearing surname "Janek" is living there now.

For the present-day repartition of the surname Janicki, see: (male form) (female form)

All the best,
(wishing you an excellent family reunion),


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Maciej St. Zięba


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