This Polish surname YANKO 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 YANK, YANKE, YANKOV, YANKOVICH, YANKU, YANKOVITS, JANKEL, JACOB, JACQUES, GIACOVO, GIACOPO and IACOPO. Throughout Eastern Europe Jewish forms of the name were extremely common, ranging from YAAKOV to JANKL. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. Many Polish people acquired their surnames by reason of former residence in a town or village. There are nearly 600 families bearing the arms of a horseshoe enclosing a cross. 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. Some names were changed by immigrants whilst on the boat heading for America and Australia. These transformations were usually to names thought by the immigrants to be more respected in their native land than the one he bore. Many Poles added 'ski' to their names to attain a higher social status since such names were accorded more respect from people of Polish extraction. Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America and Australia than in Poland.
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