How Your Scandinavian Ancestors Got Their Surnames

How Your Scandinavian Ancestors Got Their Surnames

Most of the time in genealogy, you can rely on a child to have the same surname as his or her father. A big exception—one that's often frustrating for those of you tracing Scandinavian ancestors—is the patronymic surname. Starting Monday, Aug. 10, our Family Tree University four-week course Scandinavian Genealogy...

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  1. Isn’t Finland a Scandinavian country?
    It seems like every time something is mentioned/talked about Scandinavian ancestry Finland is left out.
    My mother was a 1st generation American. Both her parents were born in Finland. Seems to me that makes me 50% Finnish and that is where a lot of my research is centered.

  2. Hi, Sharon, this is a common question and I found several articles/comment threads addressing whether Finland is part of Scandinavia. Here’s one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavia#Finland Geographically, linguistically and culturally, Finland is generally not considered to be part of Scandinavia. But the term "Nordic countries" generally does include Finland.

    Thank you for your comments, Harald. This chart is of course a generalization. Several of our genealogy resources have more information on Scandinavian surnames, farm names and the adoption of fixed surnames, including our video class on Understanding Scandinavian Patronyms and Farm Names http://www.shopfamilytree.com/digw-understand-scandinvn-patronyms

  3. Diane:
    I regret to inform you that you are incorrect.The Norwegian use of -son, -søn and -sen is not at all based on the political constellations in the Nordic countries, but style and dialect.

    The traditional Norwegian forms were -son (mainly West, Mid and North) and -søn (East and South). The latter form weakened into -sen most places over time, i.e the same development as in Danish (but not caused by).