This surname of WELSCH which is of Czechoslovakian origin meant the foreigner, one who came from abroad. The name was taken from the Italian word VLACH meaning 'foreigner'. At the time when surnames were formed, the word was applied chiefly to Italians, but also to the Romanians. The modern state of Czechoslovakia is going through a transitional phase as a result of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Its various regions encompassed the medieval provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia. The first two of these, where the language properly called Czech is spoken, were heavily subject to German cultural and linguistic influence from the Middle Ages onwards, being administratively a Crownland of Austria for much of the time until independence in 1918. This influence is reflected in the many Czech surnames derived from German, both from given names, and from vocabulary words. Occupational names are quite common in Czech as are nicknames, especially those referring to some physical feature. Many of the most common Czech surnames have the diminutive ending 'CEK', which is often found attached to these names. The name was also a nickname 'a man of short stature', or perhaps the name originated as a nickname for a persistent lawbreaker who found himself often in the stocks. The name has numerous variant spellings which include VLACH, WLOCH, WLOSKI, WLOSZEN, FLOCH and PLOCH. Notable members of the name include Jean-Richard Bloch (1884-1947) the French playwright, novelist and critic. His reputation is based on his novel 'Et Compagnie' (1918). Felix Bloch (1905-85) was the Swiss-born American physicist, born in Zurich. He was awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize for physics, jointly with Edward Mills Purcell. For the majority of the English speaking peoples, the main sources of names have been the traditions of the various Germanic tribes of Northern Europe, and the names introduced by the Church, perhaps Hebrew names of the Old Testament, or Greek and Roman names of the New Testament and saints. Many names were brought over to England by the invading Anglo-Saxons, a mixed collection of people from various Germanic tribes, speaking various dialects which were called Old English.
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