Onoma 50 Call for Papers: Medieval Multiculturalism: The Evidence from Names

Editors: Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, Dr. Jennifer A. McGowan, Genora Grim, and Nina Shiel.

Many people view the populations of the European Middle Ages as static, with most people never going more than a handful of miles from where they were born, and only those of high status and standing traveling any great distance. One consequence of such a view is the perception of medieval cultures as mono-cultural and consisting of relatively homogeneous peoples. Such a view, however, oversimplifies the complex cultural situation, and one area of evidence against this simplified view comes from records of personal names. The study of personal names can provide surprising insights into the multiculturalism and motility of medieval peoples, especially as this evidence is often overlooked by those who are not linguists. In order to address this oversight and bring together relevant research on the issue of personal names, multiculturalism, and motility in medieval Europe, we are calling for papers for a themed section of the journal Onoma with particular focus on these issues.

The primary scope for the themed section is Europe (western and eastern) from the fall of the Roman empire until the end of the 16th century, though we welcome proposals which cover cultures outside of this geographical area which nevertheless engage with medieval Europe, such as the introduction of Spanish names in the New World, or the influence of Arabic cultures as evidence by their influence on name pools. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • The names of foreigners recorded in vernacular languages not their own.
  • The evidence of locative bynames for travel and migration.
  • Mixed-language names.
  • Persons with multiple locative bynames.
  • The eclipse of “native” names by “Christian” names during the 11th-12th C.

If you would like to contribute to this themed section of Onoma, please submit a title and abstract by November 1, 2014, to onoma50@dmnes.org. Accepted authors will be informed by November 15, 2014, and the final deadline for completed the articles will be May 31, 2015.

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Bad News, and Good News

After having promised, for some months now, an end-of-September date for the publication of the first edition of the Dictionary, we must unfortunately bring the bad news that we’re pushing back this date to the beginning of 2015.

But the good news is, this delay is because Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, the EiC, has recently accepted the offer of a permanent position at Durham University and so will be using the next two months to pack up her and her family’s lives in Germany and move to England, instead of the much more enjoyable alternative of working on the Dictionary. But rather than put out something that doesn’t meet our exacting standards, just to meet proposed deadlines, we decided it would be better to delay things by a few months in order to ensure the first edition sparkles.

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New Email for the Editor-in-Chief

Brand, spankin’ new, you can now reach the DMNES Editor-in-Chief via eic@dmnes.org.

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“Medieval Multiculturalism: The Evidence From Names”

The editorial staff of the DMNES are pleased to announce that their proposal for a thematic section of the journal Onoma has been accepted. The theme of Onoma 50 will be “Medieval Multiculturalism: The Evidence From Names”:

Many people view the populations of the Middle Ages as relatively static, with most people never going more than a handful of miles from where they were born, and only those of high status and standing traveling any great distance. One consequence of such a view is the perception of medieval cultures as mono-cultural and consisting of relatively homogeneous peoples.

Records of personal names provide a large body of evidence for a more complex cultural situation, contrary to the simplified view outlined above. The study of names can provide surprising insights into the multiculturalism and motility of medieval peoples, especially as this evidence is often overlooked by historians.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • The names of foreigners recorded in vernacular languages not their own.
  • The evidence of locative bynames for travel and migration.
  • Mixed-language names.
  • Persons with multiple locative bynames.
  • The eclipse of “native” names by “Christian” names during the 11th-12th C.
  • The evidence from placenames.

Further information about how, what, and when to submit papers for this thematic session will be posted when available.

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Devon: You sure are weird

I love 16th C English parish registers: You can find so many unusual things in them! (“Dennis the Irishemans bastard” still remains one of my favorite). The last couple of days I’ve been working through some from Devon. Devon is in a relatively unique situation in England, nameswise, with its proximity to Cornwall which managed to retain some distinctive names even to the end of the 16th C, despite the English influence. Quite often you can find an unusual name in either county which Withycombe will note as being of Cornish origin, or more common in Devon and Cornwall than in any other place. It’s where I’ve found pre-1600 examples of Melanie (in the form Mellany); forms of the Cornish saint’s name Meliora; Ruby (thus contradicting Withycombe’s claim that this is a modern invention); Rabige (haven’t a clue on this one!); the unusual Dewnes or Dunes which I might have thought was an error for Dennis were it not for the multiple instances in different parishes; and now, to cap it off: a very clearly female Paskow, which name I had previously thought was exclusively masculine. But it’s hard to go against hard evidence in the form of “Peter Hubert and Paskow his wife”. I’ve found feminine forms of Pask and Pascal in French, Spanish, and Italian before, but never in England!

I’ve only just touched upon the parish registers from Devon, so I’m sure I’ll find lots more in the future. Look for all these names, and more, in the Dictionary in September!

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List of Entries

Because I am a compulsive list-maker, particularly when it comes to names (why else do you think I ended up an onomast?), I have created a new page which contains a list of the head names of entries which will be appearing in the first edition of the Dictionary, with an estimated publication date of September 2014.

It might look painfully short now, but we expect the list to grow substantially over the next three months.

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A Milestone

As of a little while ago, we have passed the 2,000 mark for number of distinct citations that have been entered into the Dictionary. This is but a small droplet in the pool of medieval onomastics, but it’s still an impressive herald of what we should be able to accomplish before releasing the first edition at the end of September, now just over three months away.

These 2,000 citations represent just over 600 distinct names — though it would be a mistake to think that this means there are roughly 4 citations for each individual name! Instead, many of the names are represented by a single citation, while other names, such as John, Henry, Robert, Richard, and William are already proving that they are going to be documented in minute detail, with, ultimately, multiple citations not only per decade but likely per year.

Not all of these 2,000 citations will make it into the first edition, since some of them require further research into the etymology and origins of the names they represent, but a good percentage of them will be and, we are sure, many more are yet to be added.

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