This surname of YAHKNE is a Polish and East Ashkenazic Jewish name from the male Yiddish name YANKEV (Hebrew YAAKOV) which was derived from the Hebrew given name Yaakov, via the Latin Jacobus. In the Bible this is the name of the younger twin brother of Esau who took advantage of the lack of hunger and impetuousness to persuade him to part with his birthright 'for a mess of potage'. The name is traditionally interpreted as coming from Hebrew AKEV (heel) and Jacob is said to have been born holding on to Esau's heel. The name has travelled widely and the principal forms of the given name in major European languages are YANKOV, YANK, YANKE, JACOB, JACQUES, GIACOVO, GIACOPO and IACOPO. Throughout Eastern Europe Jewish forms of the name were extremely common, ranging from YAAKOV to JANKL. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years. A notable member of the name is Alexander YANKOV, born 22nd June 1924. He has been the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of Bulgaria to the United Nations since 1976; Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria, since 1976. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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