The Halfling (milosflaca) wrote in little_details,
The Halfling

Patronymics specifics / Patronymics and Foreigners

Hello, I'm writing a story that involves heavy detail on Russian patronymics. I was wondering if you could help me out.

My story is set during the soviet era (the scenes I'm writing take place during 1985) and I'm acquainted with the patronymic system (explained to me by a Russian -I've been studying the language for a year), however I got stuck, after trying to come up with a suitable solution for a very *specific* problem. Before I wrote this post, I spent all morning trying to find something on the topic on the internet and so far there was no answer pertaining my question -well, I had some other questions regarding patronymics. I'm also adding what I found within the post-.

Also I looked for the answer within the community and although there were posts regarding patronymics, all were about the way children would be named and such, but not about foreigners and Patronymics, which is the problem that has been preventing me from writing (for this I used google and LJ seek since not all of the entries are tagged. I'm aware that I could have missed and entry about this :/).

Now, I have two 'variations' on foreigners + patronymics.

- First, I have a character who's father is a foreigner. Without diving into detail, and to solve this quickly I had the kid inheriting the patronymic from her mother -I was told that this could happen when there "is no father". That is if the mother is named (for example) Natalya Ivanova Brezhneva, the kid would be named Pavel Ivanovich Brezhnev (I might have the ending a bit wrong, but you guys get the point). I'm aware that the use of patronymics is not a compulsory thing if a foreigner is involved, but since the mother of the character IS russian I thought it would be something compulsory to her. So far so good. This was easy to solve.

-However I have a very important character in the story (an adult) who is a foreigner but who has lived almost all his life in Russia -he considers himself more Russian than a foreigner-. I was told by a Russian that patronymics would have to be used at all times (especially in a formal situation. Kids addressing adults for example. Or their teachers -which is the case in this story. The fatherless child would be his student-.

Logic dictates me that he shouldn't have a patronymic since he's not from Russia. At least not officially, but I'm assuming that since he's lived *there* most of his life he could have ended using a patronymic (I don't know, maybe the people around him got annoyed by this and asked his father's name and voilá! Then again I don't know if this could happen, in cases where the person you interact with all the time is a foreigner and doesn't have a patronymic). Then there was another thing that troubled me greatly. Since Russians use the patronymic as a sign of respect, how would the kid address him without one?

As far as I know You use the word вы to be formal and use "woman" or "man" (женщина... etc). Besides the word вы used at all times, how does a russian address a person (teacher or somebody who has higher status) without a patronymic? Or would the words Mister and Miss + surname be used in this case?

I went further ahead and tried solving the problem with a dual citizenship. On my morning search I found out that one could go the appointed goverment agency and add a patronymic yourself. Of course that is, you can do that NOW, but I'm not sure this was possible during soviet era, where everything was controlled (this character is 24 -25 when the story starts in 1985. I'm thinking he has a permanent propiska granted a loooong time ago since he's been living there forever. He could have altered his name to accommodate a patronymic or like I said, given by the people around him).

I have to admitt I kind of like the fact of having this foreign person who is Russian all the way, but lacks a patronymic. BUT I really kept wondering how people would address him and so far I found nothing on the subject. It's very important to me to know this, since I will have these two characters interacting all the time. I mean, the kid being brought up by a Russian would want to address him with the patronymic, right?

So if anyone can help me out, I'll be forever in your debt ;). Also if there is anything I missed -considering that the customs have changed a bit since the Soviet Union and I'm not Russian- please, don't hesitate to point them out. I like to be accurate on what I write. It helps me to imagine how people will interact with each other.

Thanks in advance.
Tags: ~languages: russian, ~names

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