A search challengeSunday, March 15th, 2009 by Gene Golovchinsky
I decided to take a crack at Daniel’s Tunkelang’s search challenge #1, finding the origins of his name. The following post is an account of my search moves, which struck me as interesting enough to blog about.
I first poked around on Google, and ran a bunch of queries along the lines of “Tunkelang -Daniel,” “+Tunkelang -Daniel -Ben +jewish”, etc. In the end, I found a record from the Warsaw Ghetto of a Fajga Tunkelang. To the best of my (limited) ability to understand Polish, according to that page, Tunkelang might be a variant of Tumkiensak. But there was no other information about the name or the person that I could make out.
I also found a reference to it in a list of Jewish names of Belgium beginning with T. The data are not particularly useful, however, as all it says is “Tunkelang (1903).”
I had some better luck with searching on JewishGen.org, where I found more spelling variants, and a few specific people mentioned. The variants are DUNKELANG and DUNKIELANG from Warsaw county, and TUNKELANGEN from Piotrkow county. These records are all from the late 19th Century. To search for yourself, see http://jri-poland.org/ and repeat the searches.
I then tried the various variants in a Google search, and came up with a Russian-language web page which has a threaded discussion about a dictionary of Jewish surnames of the Polish Kingdom, written by A. Baider or Beyder or some variant (hard to tell in Russian). The person answering questions on the discussion list mentioned that the name Tunkielang=Dunkielang appeared in the dictionary.
I then stuck the Russian name of the book and the author’s name into Google (in Russian), and came up with a another Russian-language page that said that one Alexander Baider (sp?) has been studying Jewish name history (or something like it) since 1986, and has published English-language books on the subject, including “A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire.” Amazon.com revealed that you can obtain this book (used) from three vendors, and that the author’s name was Alexander Beider. That made it a lot easier: he has published several other books (alluded to in the Russian page), all of which are listed here. The Kingdom of Poland version is here.
Inspired, I searched Google books for the title of the book, and got a hit. I then searched Google books for DUNKELANG, and came up with the following entry:
Dunkel [something in hebrew], patr. of Dun, cf. Tunkel. Tranl. of g. dunkel “dark” is Czech sery (Schery), Pol. Ciemny, Patr. and comp. Dunkelang, Dunklang, Dunkelbaum, Dunkelblum, Dunkelman, Dunkelmann, Dunkleman (W), Dunkels (B).
I also search Google Books for DUNKIELANG, which returned this snippet:
The second snippet returned by this search included a term (from page 444 of the same book) starting with T that had a reference to Dunkelang. Unfortunately, it was cut off by the (automatic?) processing, and thus was not readable.
So the answer is deep sound [German]. In retrospect this isn’t terribly surprising, even given my almost non-existent German. But the journey was fun, and the range of resources I wound up searching was also interesting.
Now, if only I had this kind of luck with “Golovchinsky”… hey, wait a minute!
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