AIUVALASIT.

My wife asked me about the surname Aiuvalasit, which she had just encountered in a list, and I drew a complete blank. Googling has [wrongly, apparently] convinced me that it’s a Jewish name, but that’s as far as I can get. Any further information (pronunciation, alternate spellings, and of course etymology) will be much appreciated!
Update. It seems Ajovalasit is a much more common spelling, and it’s apparently a Sicilianized Greek name; I’m still hoping for more details.

Comments

  1. Total Guess, but, Finnish, maybe?

  2. Hmm. It sounds almost as if it could be Inuktitut, but I don’t know of many Jewish Inuit. Searching for a possible variant “Ajuvalasit,” I was asked by Google if I meant “Ajovalasit,” which gets several hits in more or less Italian contexts, including this one, which suggests that “Ajovalasit” is Greek.

  3. If it’s a Jewish name, you might find some information at http://www.jewishgen.org (devoted to Jewish genealogy).

  4. Thanks, Q — Ajovalasit gets many more hits and is obviously the more common form. (The results make me doubt my earlier conclusion that it was Jewish; I may have been going on too small a sample.) Ai- is a common Greek name prefix from Αγι(ος) [Ay(os)] ‘Saint,’ but the rest is still obscure at the moment.

  5. “Agiovalasit” results in one hit and “Did you mean: Agiovlasitis” (which gives about 164).

  6. My friend, who is a Greek speaker, thinks that it is probably a corrupted Greek name, since the “aiu” is Saint, and “valasit” could be any one of the many saint’s names, probably originally “valasitis”. He doesn’t know the meaning. It could be a corruption of a Saint name borrowed from another language – a corruption of a corruption, so to speak.

  7. Ian Myles Slater says:

    A personal search of the Google hits suggests that the Jewish connection may center on one staff member of one (Reform) synagogue; from experience, not all that good an indicator of historical associations, although not to be discounted out of hand, either.
    However, I was more impressed by find this, as a photo caption: “Alan’s grandfather, Giacomo Aiuvalasit, a Sicilian musician who settled in New Orleans to build a family and perform on his radio show….”
    Perhaps a (locally) Italianized version of an originally Greek name? I would suppose that process, plus “Americanized” spellings, could account for a lot of variations, too.

  8. Ian Myles Slater says:

    Correction: I should have said a “search of the Google hits, and comparison to the results of a parallel search on Amazon’s A9 search engine.” That somehow came out as “personal search” when I tried to make it more concise.

  9. Saint Blaise (Agios Valasios, I think)? Via the surname Valasiadis, Valassidis, Valasidis?

  10. Well, Βαλασίδης and Βαλάσης both get a fair number of hits, but neither occurs with Αγιος (Saint). Still, I think we’re on the right track. There must be someone out there who knows!

  11. My first thought was Inuit but perhaps Turkish?

  12. From this page:http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art25.htm
    “Palermo native Valeria Ajovalasit (whose distinctive surname was inherited from a Greek ancestor who came to Sicily)…”
    The Greek roots seem to be Agiovlasitis as well as Agiovlassiti.

  13. Ah, sorry, I see Q.Pheevr linked to that one way back there.

  14. Hm. Αγιοβλασσιτης only gets one hit, but it does exist. As does Ajovlasit, though just barely. Curiouser and curiouser.

  15. My Greek isn’t quite what it should be. Saint Blaise is Αγιος Βλάσιος, and it appears there’s a town/village of that name in the Aetolia-Acarnania prefecture in Greece. Might the family name have originated from there?

  16. It certainly might. I’m still hoping for confirmation, but for the time being I’m accepting that as a working hypothesis. Thanks!

  17. John Emerson says:

    LH scores again!

  18. Or rather, my readers score again. I just toss the ball into the court.

  19. I am one of the five grandsons of Giacomo Aiuvalasit, who came to America in the early 20′s from Plazza Hadriano, Sicily. He was the oldest of four brothers. Two had birth records showing the spelling to be Aiovalasit. From searches of phone directories in Sicily it appears that the ‘Aiu’ is the least common, then ‘Aio’ comes next, with the largest volumn being ‘Ajovalasit’.

  20. John Aiuvalasit says:

    Part 2:
    Via some emails with a Ajovalasit, the story goes that a Greek (Ajovalasit) came to Southern Sicily in the late 1400 from the island of Corfu. We really don’t have any other details, but I feel that ‘valasit’ refers to St. Blaise or Balasuis (the patron saint of throat ailments). He was a 4th Century Bishop in Georgia or Armenia? I suspect that the name refers to either being son of or follower of Balasuis. Any more ideas.
    BTW – In respect to the Jewish or not Jewish question. Most of the family is Catholic. My brother’s wife and their two children are Jewish and my newest daughter in law is Jewish. So I guess the answer is both! :)
    Thanks to my son, Michael (the newlywed) for spotting this discussion on our family name.
    Having had to try to explain both the spelling and pronuciation all my life its fun to see it discussed in such a scholarly way.
    One last aside – my wife’s maiden name is Jones. It must have been love to go from that to Aiuvalasit. It will be 28 years in December.
    John

  21. I was hoping an actual Aiuvalasit would drop by. Thanks for the information, and congratulations on the 28 years! We’re coming up on five…

  22. Tony Aiuvalasit, Jr. says:

    I am also a grandson of Giacomo Aiuvalasit who came to the U.S. at 16 from Palatcio (spelling?) Adriano (Hadrian’s Palace)which is a little village up the mountains near Palermo, beyond the town of Corleone. In 1988 my dad and I visited it with Giacomo’s brother Vito and family (who lived in Palermo) to settle a family dispute with a brother’s widow over access to the old townhouse. it is a quaint mountain town with goats being driven along the streets. The most “famous” feature of the town is its Greek Orthodox Church which has been featured in Italian movies, prominently in CINEMA PARADISO. I remember looking in the Palermo phone book and seeing many variations/similar names with “j” instead of “i” and “o” instead of “u”. My great Uncle spelt his name “AIOVALASIT” and I believe the passenger list on the ship that brought Giacomo to this country shows his name as the “o” NOT “u” variety. My dad subsequently told me that Giacomo had changed to “u” version due to some dispute with relatives here. Many years ago a Greek friend of mine told me that he believed it was Greek and meant “Saint Valases (or Blases)”. Anyway, while in Sicily a man from the car rental office of the “j” variety came to our hotel and told my dad that all varieties (i,j,o,u)were “related” as descendants of a Greek rascal from Corfu who came to the Palermo area and made hay with the ladies before he was sent by the authorities back to Corfu. My interpretation of that is that there was some confusion/differences about translating his Greek alphabet name into Italian and/or a Siciian dialect and THAT is what led to the variations imparted to the various and sundry bambinos he left behind. All this was denied by Vito and his family which may have been due to understandable family proud and honor.In any event, it would be would be wonderful to pin this all done once and for all and I want to thank all those who are trying to do so! Perhaps someone from Corfu would help as I once heard that the “name” appears on some plaque or statue there. Lastly, my Grandfather until his death maintained that we were descended from a Spanish Conquistador who went to America. I found one who killed some Huegenots in Florida who was named “AVALASES”, who was from AVILA Spain. Again, Thanks!

  23. My pleasure, and I hope this thread will serve as a repository for Aiuvalasit-related information and stories, especially if they involve quaint Sicilian towns with goats in the streets!

  24. Tony Aiuvalasit, Jr. says:

    Thanks, again! By the way, my bride of soon to be 35 years is Jewish and it was her name, Marcie Aiuvalasit, that your bride must have encountered in the context of a Jewish Reform Movement List as she is the Religious Educator at a Temple in Westchester, NY. When I first met her family, I told them that “Aiuvalasit” may very well have been Shepardim, but that somehow along the way my ancestors “went astray”!

  25. Elissia Aiuvalasit says:

    Hi everyone. My name is Elissia Aiuvalasit. I think everything said on this site was very interesting and helped me better understand where my name came from. Numerous people have asked me what nationality is that? This question is not easily answered. My father’s name is Demetrio Aiuvalasit he was born in a town in Sicily named Palazzo Adriano, where several people who posted on this site are from. Tony has the goats right but the spelling wrong. My father was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church in the town. I was thinking that my family would also somehow be related since we are from the same town with the same spelling of Aiuvalasit. My grandfather’s name is Anastazio and his father’s name is Demetrio.

  26. Elissia Aiuvalasit says:

    Hi everyone. My name is Elissia Aiuvalasit. I think everything said on this site was very interesting and helped me better understand where my name came from. Numerous people have asked me what nationality is that? This question is not easily answered. My father’s name is Demetrio Aiuvalasit he was born in a town in Sicily named Palazzo Adriano, where several people who posted on this site are from. Tony has the goats right but the spelling wrong. My father was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church in the town. I was thinking that my family would also somehow be related since we are from the same town with the same spelling of Aiuvalasit. My grandfather’s name is Anastazio and his father’s name is Demetrio.

  27. Good Greek names all! I’m glad you found this thread.

  28. Hi everyone, my name is Salvatore Aiovalasit, I was born in Palazzo Adriano, 27-07-1982, my father is Anastasio, 13-08-1954, I think that Elissa, Tony and John are my cousinses.Sorry but my english is not very well, but I will improve.

  29. Benvenuto, Salvatore!

Speak Your Mind

*