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[Facts] Russian origin for Yesenia?
About fifteen years ago I had some students from Tajikistan who insisted that they knew elderly Russian women named Yesenia after the Russian poet Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925):https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sergei-yeseninI have found several claims that there were boys given Yesenin as a first name after the poet, but so far no actual examples.Yesenia is certainly used as a name in Russia today. But that could be from the Mexican character -- I have recently discovered that in addition to the two telenovelas based on Yolanda Vargas Dulche's graphic novel "Yesenia", there was a 2 hour theatrical film of "Yesenia" in 1971 which was amazingly popular in Russia, being one of the highest grossing films there of all time. I have not yet found clear examples of a woman named Yesenia in Russia before 1971. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yesenia_(film)Does anyone on this board know of examples of children in Russia named Yesenin or Yesenia after the poet before 1971? If so is it possible that the Russian name actually influenced the use of the name in Latin America? Or did some residents of the old Soviet Union just wrongly assume that the name of the character in the Mexican film was derived from the name of the poet?
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Some Russian sites claim that the name Yeseniya (Есения) is related to the early Russian word есень (maybe obsolete form; cognates to осень in modern Russian), which means "autumn", but I haven't done research on it.There is also a masculine name Yesenya (Есеня, source: https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D0%95%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%8F) in Russian.

This message was edited by the author 2/22/2020, 7:31 AM

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According to the Russian Wikipedia, the Cyrillic spelling of the poet's surname is Есенин:https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%95%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BD,_%D0%A1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%B9_%D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87 (in Russian)This indicates that the Cyrillic spelling of Yesenia is Есения, of which the proper transcription is actually Yeseniya.A Russian name website gives 5 possible meanings and origins for Есения, which includes the poet's surname as well as the genus of South American palm trees (as mentioned in BtN's entry for Yesenia). In the case of the latter, the website mentions that the name became very popular in 1970 because of the series (yes, it specifically says 'series' and not 'film'). You can see it for yourself here:https://imya.com/name/6891 (in Russian; use Google Translate if necessary)The same website does not have an entry for Есенин (Yesenin), the poet's surname. If Yesenin was ever used as a given name for Russian boys, then it must have been extremely rare (like most Soviet given names). It might be mentioned in Herwig Kraus' book Sowjetrussische Vornamen: Ein Lexikon (2013) under the germanised spelling Jessenin, but the relevant page is not available for free on Google Books:https://books.google.de/books?id=3tXmBQAAQBAJ (in English and German)With that said: it does indeed look like the given name Yeseniya first came into use in the 20th century, as the name is not mentioned on Paul Wickenden's website A Dictionary of Period Russian Names:

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Thanks very much for your response and the time you took to look this up!Since the name was probably rare in Russia even in the Soviet era, I highly doubt it. How would a Soviet Russian name even become popular in Latin America? For example: it doesn't seem like there was a hugely popular Russian film with that name, in the same way that the Mexican film was hugely popular in the Soviet Union and popularised the name Yesenia/Yeseniya.My theory of this would have to do with why Yolanda Vargas Dulche chose the name for the character. In her famous story, Yesenia is a gypsy girl. There certainly were connections between Russia and Mexico back in the 1940s when Vargas Dulche began her career. Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was living in Mexico City when he was assassinated, after all. People involved in the arts like Vargas Dulche have usually been more attracted to both foreign influences and left-leaning politics than the average person.It just seems more likely to me that Vargas Dulche would have thought Yesenia was a good name for a gypsy girl if she had run across it as an exotic Russian name than taking it from a genus of palm trees. Of course we will never know unless someone runs across a statement from Yolanda Vargas Dulche explaining why she chose the name for her character.
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You'd also need to find out where Karsten got the Genus name. Unlike the earlier and thus current name Oenocarpus, Jessenia has no Graeco-Latin meaning - it would seem to have been chosen in honor of someone known to Karsten. Besides, these palms have common names throughout Latin America - they seem not to be known as Jessenia except in certain scientific literature.
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Well Karl Jessen was a well-known botanist, too, and he has the official shorthand Jess. in botanical names, therefore he wasn't just an acquaintance of H. Karsten. But the major argument is still true: The palm have trivial names, but none of them is known popularly as "Jessenia" or "Yessenia". So probably the name was just made up by Yolanda Vargas Dulche maybe inspired by botany, I don't know the graphic novel nor any statements of the author where she got the name from.
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the Danish surname Jessen is probably the origin, although there's also at least one town named Jessen in Germany. There is a botanist Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Jessen (1821-1889) who describes a number of species in Deutschlands Graser und Getreidearten 1863. Gustav Karl Wilhelm Hermann Karsten (4 years older than Jessen) describes the palm as Jessenia in 1857 in the journal Linnaea; Ein Journal für die Botanik in ihrem ganzen Umfange. Jessen published 45 names to Karstens 701

This message was edited by the author 2/18/2020, 2:04 PM

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