stop using romanov as natasha’s last name. according to russian grammar, she’s a female, so her last name would be romanova. either call her natasha romanoff or natasha romanova, if you insist on using her russian name. romanov is grammatically incorrect. like, it’s just wrong in terms of the russian language.
Romanoff/Romanov are different ways of transliterating the same -ов Russian ending, which is to say they’re different ways of spelling the same thing in the Latin alphabet. It’s not a case of one being necessarily “Russian” and the other necessarily “American”— both spellings have been used as standard transliterations of Романов. (Romanoff is, I think, influenced by older French styles of transliteration, Romanov is more standard these days.)
While Russian names, in Russian, are gendered, it’s not “incorrect” to drop that aspect when translating to English, which lacks grammatical gender. Sometimes Slavic immigrant women use the “masculine” form in the West, sometimes they don’t. In the end, though, they get to decide how to transliterate and anglicize their own names, and probably shouldn’t be told they’re grammatically incorrect for doing it.
In the film continuity “Natasha Romanoff” is standardized as the spelling she uses and so the name she prefers to go by. In the comics, there is no standardization, and Romanoff/Romanov/Romanova spellings are all used, so any of them is correct, depending on context. (The comics also use Natalia as her first name fairly often.)
My sources here are Russian lessons and discussion w/Russian immigrants. Anyway, Wikipedia has a page on Eastern Slavic naming customs, including a line about how there isn’t really a standard way of transliterating women’s last names. I also wrote up a long post about Natasha’s name and its history, with even more links.
honestly, a lot of people have either messaged me/reblogged saying, “i’m russian, and you’re so right,” or messaged me/reblogged saying, “i’m a linguistics major, and you’re wrong,” and it’s gotten to the point where i don’t know which one is right.
Hm… I thought about that a little…
And I think it’s because you are neither completely wrong or completely right. Names are different from other words in language. Sure, laws of grammar do apply, but in the end, it’s about your personal choice and preference. (well, in this case, about personal choice of Natasha)
As I mentioned, you need to end your name with “ova” in czech language (and russian too) because of declension. But there are women who decided to take masculine versions of surnames because they are living abroad or because they want to take feminist stance or differ from the rest. It is usually because majority of english speaking people think that Romanova and Romanov are completely different names and therefore, people with names like that aren’t related/married. However, it is essentially the same name, just feminine and masculine version.
Basically, it’s about the personal choice. There is no gramatical right or wrong concerning names. I see the “Romanova” version as more accurate, since my language is similar to russian, but Natasha is living in english speaking country now, so it would be more logical to use “Romanov” or “Romanoff”. If she is in Russia, she probably should be adressed as Romanova, since it makes more sense… (or if someone from Russia is talking to her, they would most probably also use “Romanova”)
All versions probably correct, though. We would have to ask Natasha what she thinks about it and that version would be the correct version. :)