|A family in front of a homestead in Swiatkowa Wielka|
This Lemko expression means "How are you written, and how are you called?" It refers to the fact that Lemkos in any given village often had two identities: that of the family (the "written" version or surname) and that of the homestead from where he or she came, which was the name used locally by friends and neighbors to identify or refer to an individual.
Dr. Stephen Rapawy, a historian educated at Georgetown University with a specialization in Soviet and Eastern European studies, explains the practice from his own experiences growing up in pre-war Karlykiv (Pol: Karlikow), located in the Sianik (Sanok) region. According to Dr. Rapawy, his immediate family had the surname of "Rapawy," and his father's formal name was "Fedor Rapawy," but the Rapawy surname was only used for formal or legal purposes. Since the household name was "Koval'" (meaning "smith" and likely adopted from the surname of the farm's founder), neighbors and friends referred to his father as "Fets'ko Kovalo." (Fets'ko is a diminutive or familiar form of Fedor.)
So why did Lemkos do this?
"There was a great emphasis on the land," said Dr. Rapawy. "A Lemko's identity was tied to the land- specifically, to a particular farm. There were very few sales of land in the region - it was not the norm. Farms would pass down from generation to generation. If a particular family had no son to take over the farmstead and it was passed to a married daughter, the farmstead would retain its original name (such as Koval' in his family's case) and even the daughter's husband would be referred to by the farmstead name because he had become part of it."
Dr. Rapawy points out that such scenarios were not uncommon in the late 19th century and in the 20th century due to scarcity of land and the increasing incidences of emigration from the region. "Maybe a son from a family went to the United States or Canada and the daughter inherited the farm. Such scenarios were pretty common by the 1930s."*