Being new to this site, I FINALLY made it through all of the posts.I noticed some recurring themes regarding surnames and their spelling.Here is an explanation of *most* (there are a small few that do not follow these rules) Macedonian surnames:
1) as it was mentioned in a post, most surnames of the past were patronimic in the sense that they were derived most often from the grandfather's first name:i.e., Grandfather = Veljan (first name) = Veljanovski family name, Georgi = Georgievski, Stefan = Stefanovski.The suffix endings "ovski" can be translated as meaning "of (that personm i.e. Stefan).This "mess" was present even in my mother's family--my grandfather was surnamed "Milevski" (of Mile), but my uncle was named "Georgievski" after his grandfather.My mom somehow ended up with the "Nedelkovski" family name after the other grandfather.This caused HUGE problems when my mom tried to bring her own brother to the US and they had different surnames. This is why the surnames are so common throughout the region--imagine if we used that system here!Think of the numbers of people here who maybe had a grandfather named "John" and everyone's surname was Ofjohn.
2)the family name most often ends in "ovski" or "ovi" (this ending indicates the plural form, i.e., many individuals make up a family).
3)The masculine singular form of the surname changes to "ov" or "off."Take my surname for instance.Gagovski is/was the family name.My father came to the US and stated to the registrar his name was Gagov--which sounded like Gago-FF to him... so that's how my dad went down in the books.
4) feminine forms of the family surname are generally either "ovska" or "ova."(i.e., Gagovska, Gagova)
5)someone questioned the "ic" or "ich" endings.This goes back to Serbian rule of the area.Serbian surnames tend to end in "ic" or "ich,"and both still mean "of (person, i.e., Stefanovic/Stefanovich). It is common for many old houses to have the patriarch's name written on the front of the house (usually just under the eaves at the apex) along with the year the house was built.You can still see where it used to say "S. Gagovic" on my grandfather's house; the "ic" is still barely visible although the "ic" was painted over/covered once Serb rule ended and most people went back to using their regular surnames.
6) Some of the "off" endings remain and became so under Bulgarian rule.Macedonians don't use double consonants (there is only one grammatical rule in which they do, and it doesn't apply to the letter "F"--however, I understand that Bulgarians do use double Fs frequently.
7)Middle names... all children, regardless of gender, took the father's name as a middle name.For example, grandfather Stefan had three sons:Georgi, Tanas, and Pavle.Georgi's children would be Dimitar Georgi Stefanov (male) and Kalina Georgi Stefanovska.Tanas' children would be Mihal Tanas Stefanov and Despina Tanas Stefanovska... and so on.
I know it's confusing but it just goes to show that when searching for a name, you may have to extend your search to the full family surname (Stefanovski).Sometimes, if you find that searching under "Stefanoff" does not reveal anything, try "Stefanov," or vice versa.You may even have to check variations of grandfathers' first names, etc., in order to find a link, or determine the possible middle name.
I hope this explains and helps (hopefully) you all in your searches!