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Russian is one of the main Barrayaran languages resulted from the primary settlement groups populated Barrayar. Other main languages are English, French and Greek. Judging by the Vorkosigan books, English and French surnames are very common among both vors and non-vors. Unlike them, Russian surnames are very rarely mentioned (Greek surnames are rare too, but it's due to that Greek was the smallest group, Russian was the biggest, or one of biggest).

I can remember only one Russian-like surname referring to a vor - (Vor)drozda (BTW I'm not sure Bujold meant it to be Russian).

Meanwhile there are many Russian forenames among vors. Almost every vor house has at least one member having Russian forename, e.g: Youri and Serg Vorbarra, Piotr Vorkosigan, Ivan Vorpatril.

So what is the reason of rarity of Russian surnames?

Does it mean that Barrayar has been ruled by Western Europeans at the beginning of the Time of Isolation?

  • 1
    Our best bet is probably to ask Mrs. McMaster-Bujold herself on the Baen boards... – FuzzyBoots Nov 21 '16 at 19:26
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    Not an answer, just an idea to consider: there's a difference between ethnicity and culture. If Barrayar was initially colonized by a mixture of nations, but during the Isolation Russian/Eastern European culture gained more influence, the outcome could be precisely such: surnames based on ethnicity, but first names chosen from the most popular language. Take, for example, popular Russian singers Victor Tsoy and Yuliy Kim: both of Korean descent but with common names (coincidentally, of Latin origin) – IMil Mar 29 '19 at 4:41
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Here a full list of the known High Vor names and (sometimes a guess at) their source (ist taken from Vor Names):

  • Vorbarra - English/Italian
  • Vorbataille - French
  • Vorbohn - German
  • Vorbretten - French
  • Vordarian - Greek/Iranian(Persian) - used also in Bulgaria as given name and in English-speaking countries
  • Vordrozda - Polish / Russian
  • Vorfolse - German / English
  • Vorgarin - Russian
  • Vorhalas - Czech / Polish but could also be English
  • Vorharopulos - Greek
  • Vorinnis - English
  • Vorkalloner - Most probably English
  • Vorkosigan - unknown
  • Vorlakial - unknown
  • Vorloupulous - unknown
  • Vormercier - French
  • Vormoncrief - English
  • Vormuir - English / Scottish
  • Vorob'yev - Russian
  • Vorpatril - unknown
  • Vorpinski - Polish / Ukrainian
  • Vorreedi - Unknown but most probably English
  • Vorrutyer - French/German
  • Vorsmythe - English
  • Vortaine - English
  • Vortala - sounds like Nordic
  • Vortashpula - unknown but as suggested in a comment - could be of Central-Asian origin
  • Vortienne - French
  • Vortrifrani - Unknown
  • Vortugalov - Russian
  • Vorvolynkin - Russian
  • Vorvayne - English
  • Vorville - French
  • Vorvolk - could be Russian or German

So out of 34 known high Vor names 5 or 6 are Russian and 3 more are with Slavic origin. Not that few actually.

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  • 1
    There's at least one ethnically Greek person in the world named "Harapoulos." Here's his obituary. Tom Clancy uses "Kosigan" for a Russian general, but he's probably not a reliable source. Everyone on the internet with the last name "Lakial" seems to be a francophone, though there aren't that many of them. "Loupulous" sounds vaguely Greek, but doesn't seem to be authentically so; it may actually be a joke about beer or a pun on the word "loopholes." – Micah Nov 21 '16 at 21:56
  • "Tashpula" might be a contraction of "Tashpulatov" or "Tashpulat", which comes from Central Asia. – Micah Nov 21 '16 at 21:58
  • Great research! I didn't think there are so many vors with Russian surnames). Frankly I haven't read all books of the series. Could you point out the books where these names are mentioned: Vorgarin, Vorpinski, Vortugalov, and especially) Vorob'yev? – hindmost Nov 22 '16 at 16:22
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    Also the books where the names are mentioned are listed on the referenced page. Some of the names only appear in conversations and the actual characters never appear in the books. – vap78 Nov 22 '16 at 19:48
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    Vorloupulous always looked like a Greek name to me, with what looks like a modified version of the common -opoulos suffix on Greek surnames. – Pixel Nov 22 '16 at 21:04
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For what it's worth, Word of God answer from the author (requires registration to view):

There is no pattern to be found; I made up names as I went along, as the moment or character in a story seemed to need them.

Ta, L.

There's also a pretty exhaustive exploration of what the real-world basis of the names are which I will not quote since we have the horse's mouth answer that there is no meaning.

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