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Does this name sounds especially cool for american audience or something?
I had a discussion on russian cinema forum a few weeks before about this name. I basically shot the original poster's idea off, saying that this name is a very common polish last name.
But, this week i absolutely unrelatedly watched Vanishing Point and here is another Kowalski!
After that, i just can't ignore this anymore.
Even today i randomly clicked on Noble Bigot and again stumbled on quote by yet another Kowalski.
What's going on? How can Polish last name (not even the most popular one) can crop up so often:
Imdb lists 200+ of Kowalski, ok we can probably cut it in half, because of all polish productions listed in there (because of common occurrence of that name in in Poland).
We can cut it a little bit more excluding numerous adaptations of "Streetcar Desire" or direct homages (like in Due South) but we still have an impressive list left.
edited 7th Jan '11 5:34:51 AM by Azek
If you're proposing a trope, read the stickied threads at the top of Trope Talk.
No i'm not proposing a trope (because trope around one particular non-generic name sounds too obscure), i'm just asking what people think is the deal with that name?
Why authors think it's so awesome?
edited 7th Jan '11 7:58:50 AM by Azek
I'm guessing that it sufficiently foreign sounding without being difficult to pronounce. And a quick Google search turned up a lot of places named Kowalski's.
If it that widespread, it could be a trope, along the lines of Everything's Better With Bob. No harm in taking it to YKTTW.
edited 7th Jan '11 10:12:52 AM by TotemicHero
Do check on Lost and Found first to make sure there isn't an article about this already.
My guess is that A Streetcar Named Desire has popularised it to non-Polish people.
I'm not Polish and don't have any close acquaintances who are, and if anyone asked me to think of a Polish surname off the top of my head, I'd say "Kowalski".
Why are there so many fictional Poles called Kowalski? Becuase lots and lots of real Poles are called Kowalski. It was the most common Polish surname in the 20th century, so of course it'll get used a lot in fiction. Like the English surname "Smith".
Well, Kowal does stand for smith.
I know that Kowalski is popular last name, but it's not THE most popular polish last name.
Wikipedia isn't a great source, but it tells me that "Kowalski" is currently the second most common Polish surname and used to be the most common.
Mustn't forget the esteemed Major Kowalski and his remarkable ability to die every time he appears.
I find it is a very common ethnic name used to apply an aura of foreigness or coming from an immigrant family to what would otherwise be a WAS Py character.
Maybe it's because compared to many other polish surnames it's easier to both identify and pronounce.
Easier to spell than Kaminsky, Kandinsky or say Malevich?
edited 2nd Feb '11 9:23:47 PM by Azek
And easier to figure out how to say than Kruchezski
We could make a trope or useful note about most common names in different nations in Real Life.
That link from The Other Wiki also notes that "Jan Kowalski" is often used, in Poland, the way we use "John Doe" or "John Smith," which is a banner of being (or being thought of as) an extremely common name.
This is shaping up like there is a need for a trope.
Heh, didnt see this thread when I YKTTW this
Huh. I must say, this is a very interesting forum find. I've been wondering for a while why there are so many Kowalski characters. There seem to be lots of them in war movies and games.
Yeah. Practically any war/police fiction will include some random, non-important squaddie named Kowalski.
The two Jankowskis from FEAR also come to mind, as well as Leon Powalski from Star Fox. There seems to always be some kind of "-awski" or "-owski" around.
edited 22nd Dec '11 8:28:26 PM by Zaka51
We can't forget Due South and Ray Kowalski.
Another Kowalski was in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Del Monroe was the only actor to transfer from the movie to the series.
I don't think this really explains it, though. Why isn't there an equivalent for Italian-Americans or other large ethnic groups in the US (or is there and I don't know about it?
This phenomenon reminds me a bit of Officer O'Hara, except less stereotyped.
My guess is they figure it sounds foreign enough yet is easy for an audience to remember.
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How well does it match the trope?