The surname of SLAWINSKI is an Hungarian and Polish name of two-fold origin. The name was applied to one who came from SLAVONIA a district of northern Yugoslavia bordering on Hungary between the Sava, Drava and Danube rivers. The earliest written Slavonic language, a Bulgarian dialect fixed in writing towards the end of the 9th century is extinct as a vernacular but remains the liturgical language of the Orthodox church in Slavic countries. The Hungarian language is quite distinct from its Germanic and Slavonic neighbours, and is of Finno-Ugric rather than European origin, and so it is related to Finnish. However, the strongest cultural influence in historical times has been German, and the pattern of Hungarian surnames is similar to that found in Germany and Austria. In the 19th century, surnames ending in 'Y' came to be considered more aristocratic than those ending in 'I', although it has been shown that the alternation between these two letters depended on the whim of a clerk, and had no connection with rank. It was also a nickname for a good singer, or a nightime reveller. The name was originally derived from the Polish word SLOWIK (nightingale). The name is also spelt SLOWIK, SLAVICEK, SLOWIKOWSKI and SLOWINSKI. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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