Mystery Monday: Blendumen

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is the name of an 8th C Dutch abbess; she shows up in a variety of historical records, but as far as we can tell she is the sole example of this name. Hapax legomena are always tricky to determine etymologies for, but it’s always worth asking in case there’s an expert out there who has a suggestion!

Blendumen

Do you recognize the name? Or know of any other examples of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Alsarember

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Early 13th-century France is not a place where you expect to find quirky, unusual names. And yet, take a look at this:
Alsarember
It’s from a Latin document but the nominative spelling is Alsarembers — not a typical Latin case-ending! Could it be influence of the Old French vernacular poking through? A typo in the edition? A manuscript error? Who knows!

But solving that question won’t address the deeper one, which is: What kind of a name is this? It’s certainly not your ordinary dithematic Germanic name, nor is it an easily identifiable Latin/Christian name. If anything the Al- feels Arabic.

We’d love to know if you have any thoughts. Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Zauist

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

It’s always fun to come back to “Z” in our trips through the alphabet! We’ve got more Z-names than you might think.

This one is found in Mecklenburg in the 13th C. The context doesn’t make it 100% certain that it’s a given name, rather than a byname, but on balance it’s more likely to be a given name than not, and that’s why we have it included in a provisional entry in the Dictionary. Someday we may learn more info that means we’ll jettison it — perhaps even from this post! — but we’d always rather collect more false positives rather than miss out on tasty tasty name gobbits.

Zauist

So, what are your thoughts? Do you recognise it? Is it a given name or a byname? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear.

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Mystery Monday: Yuwage

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

How about a very strange name from 13th century Latvia? In the Rigische Schuldbuch (1286-1352), a man named “Yuwage” was recorded in 1290.
Yuwage
A lot of the names in this register are ordinary German names, easily recognisable underneath their Latinization. But this is an exciting source precisely because so many of the names in it are not ordinary German names, or are significantly masked by their Latinization — and this name is one of them.

We have no idea, not even a guess, about what the underlying name is. We’d love to know if you have any thoughts! Please share them in the comments.

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Mystery Monday: Wrana

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s names is a 14th C Czech masculine name:

Wrana

As with many names from this particular source (and from this period more generally), this specific instance is recorded in Latin, which may disguise the underlying Czech form to some degree. (“Wr-” is not a common combination in Latin, so it’s definitely representing something foreign!) No obvious candidates come up in our searching, so we’re hoping that someone out there has a guess as to what name this might be representing! If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Vyrzbantha

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is a mysterious Polish/Ukrainian name, Vyrzbantha.

Our example comes from Latin records in the Ukraine, in the 15th C; but a google search shows another Vyrzbantha who was “castellanus Poznaniens” in 1306, so just over the border in Poland.

The context of both instances makes it pretty clear that it’s a personal name, but it’s not one that we’re familiar with at all; and it may be a byname element rather than a given name. We’re hoping someone who specialises in Slavic languages might recognise this and give us some pointers! Please share in a comment any thoughts you might have.

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Announcing Edition 2020!

With about 40 minutes to spare, we did manage to get a new edition out in 2020!

2020 was a tough year for everyone, and things have been alternating really quiet and super productive here at DMNES central. If there’s one thing that was a pure, unalloyed joy and benefit of the upheaval of the pandemic, it was joining Mt. Holyoke’s internship scheme which facilitated the joining of four interns on our staff over summer, with one continuing on through the fall term as well. Much of what’s in this new edition — new names, new citations, updated info on Biblical and literary forms — is due to their hard work; and while some of their other work isn’t yet reflected in published editions, it’s laid the foundations for some exciting projects in the future.

So, on to some stats! The new edition has 2592 entries, with 77,248 citations distributed across those entries. (The entry with the most citations remains John, 4533 citations! That’s nearly 6% of all citations in the Dictionary in that single entry.) (Hah, as I was writing this up, our technical guru asked whether the numbers for Mary were comparable. I laughed, and said “no way, that name was never as popular, and he wanted to know the details. So: we have 832 citations for Mary, accounting for 1% of our data. Compare this to three other popular feminine names — Katherine, with 775 citations; Elizabeth, with 1159; and Margaret, with 1281 citations.)

This edition has a total of 931 distinct feminine names, 1658 masculine names, and 3 where the gender is uncertain. Of these, 44 of the feminine entries are new to this edition:

Women’s names
Agtrude
Albina
Ansilde
Aurofina
Baltrude
Bellabona
Benenata
Berna
Bernswith
Bernwara
Bertlinde
Desideria
Dominilde
Durande
Dutberta
Ermenalda
Fortuna
Gendrada
Godberg
Grimberg
Gundberg
Heilsinde
Lautrude
Lea
Lefhild
Liutwarde
Lodberta
Madalgarde
Maga
Maira
Meinfrida
Merberta
Novella
Odelrada
Oteria
Othilde
Percipia
Polemia
Radwise
Rolande
Sighilde
Warntrude
Wendelbalda
Zenobia

And there’s 98 new masculine names in this edition:

Men’s names
Adald
Adebert
Adegrim
Aitfrid
Aldebert
Amaro
Andger
Arner
Arno
Austrulf
Bago
Baldrad
Baldwald
Benenat
Benno
Bernulf
Bertbert
Bertmar
Bertram-Robert
Bertrick
Bodo
Bonald
Charles-Emmanuel
Cuthred
Dadmar
Daghard
Dodbert
Dominic-Amicus
Drutrich
Eckbald
Erchambert
Ermenald
Ermo
Everald
Folobert
Fortune
Fredebald
Gardulf
Gardwin
Gelbald
Gerhard
Gislold
Gordian
Hartnich
Helmger
Hemlwich
Hemlwin
Herger
Hildegrim
Hundolf
Hungrim
Isenbald
Isenbern
Isengrim
John-Andrew
John-Angel
John-Charles
John-Peter
Lantgrim
Liberat
Liebizo
Liutgard
Liutrad
Lodbald
Lodwin
Madaler
Madalrich
Marcrad
Marcrich
Merard
Merbod
Nantwin
Norwin
Noto
Odelrad
Otbald
Otgisl
Otrad
Peter-Andrew
Polydorus
Radger
Reinrich
Richbert
Richbod
Richsind
Rother
Sigwald
Sinbald
Sinbert
Theodeger
Waldemar
Waldemund
Wendelbald
Wilbald
Wildrad
Wineger
Witbert
Witrich

May your 2021 be filled with wonderful names! (Like Bertbert. Bertbert is such a great name.)

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Inside DMNES from the Perspective of an Intern

I can’t believe I’m at the end of my six-month internship with DMNES! On one hand, it feels like the time has flown by in an instant, but on the other hand, it seems like I’ve learned more than could possibly fit within half a year. 

I wanted to take this time to write one last blog post and share the most interesting behind-the-scenes details I’ll be taking away from my internship.

Coming into this opportunity, I knew absolutely nothing about onomastics. I had to google what the word meant before I applied to the internship. When I found out it was the study of names, I was very intrigued, but it still made the most sense for me to begin my internship in a familiar field: research. 

One research tool we use at DMNES that I had never used before is Google Trends. Trends goes back through paper records digitized by Google, allowing you to track trends from long before the internet was invented. I learned to use Trends to analyze the occurrence of various names in the parish registers available to Google’s algorithms. I knew Trends could analyze web trends, but I had no idea you could use them to analyze naming trends in the 1500s!

Google Trends analyzing the occurrences of the same name spelled different ways in the 1500-1700s

Having dipped my toes in the onomastic name pool, I was eager to learn more. My next project involved finding the etymologies of names. At DMNES, every instance of a name is recorded with a VNF file in GitHub. That means, there could be tons of different VNF files, all for the same name, if we have records of it from a lot of different sources in different places and times. (You would not believe how many VNFs we have for “John.”)

Then, each VNF is linked to a CNF, which is the most basic version of the name. Each CNF contains the etymology. My job was to look up the etymologies for CNFs that didn’t have any. For some, this was easy. I would be able to find the exact name in a dictionary with the themes spelled out.

Other times, though, I wouldn’t be able to find the exact name I was looking for, or the etymology would be in a different format than we use here at DMNES. Then, I would have to figure out the etymology based on what I know about similar names. 

For example, one name I needed to find the etymology for was “Almodi.”

The first thing I had to do was find the most basic form of the name, which turned out to be “Alimold.” Next, I needed to find the basic themes that make up the name, which turned out to be ADAL- and MUOT-. “Adalmuot” sounds nothing like “Almodi,” but it turns out that’s what “Almodi” means! All I had to do was insert the meanings for those two themes (“noble” and “courage”) into the etymology spot for “Alimold.” Since “Almodi” is linked to “Alimold,” now we know the etymology for “Almodi.” 

Coming into this, I didn’t know what “onomastics” meant, but suddenly, I was piecing together the etymologies of names I had never even heard before! At the beginning, I would have to look up and triple check every name, but by the end, I could often predict what themes would comprise a name before I even checked our sources. 

Still, I have to say that the most educational part of my internship would have to be this, right here: blogging and social media. I had never used WordPress or Twitter for academic purposes before this internship, and it was so interesting to see how you can use these tools to share research and connect with likeminded academics from around the world! 

I also learned a lot about research and writing by doing this. When I found a relevant article in college, I just analyzed it in an academic paper. When I found a relevant article in this internship, I would write up a summary for this blog that makes the academic article into something you could read on your phone during a bus ride! 

Thinking about the same information in different ways really helped me engage with the onomastics. You can’t blog about something unless you really understand it. There’s no hiding behind fancy words or long quotes. You have to know what you’re talking about.

And, I can’t believe it, but I really feel like I do! I feel confident enough to use platforms I’d never used before to share information I never knew before that I found through sources I’d never heard of before. I learned so much over the course of this internship and had an amazing time doing it. I’ll never look at names the same way again.

~Adelia (a one-theme named from theme ADAL-, meaning noble), signing off.

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Mystery Monday: Uideal

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

We figure the odds are pretty high that if you were presented with the name “Uideal”, you’d have no guess about it’s gender, language/culture, or time period; it is a remarkably peculiar little name.

Uideal

To answer those questions exhausts what we know about this name: It’s the name of a man, recorded in a document written in Italy, in 827.

Early Italian names are remarkably recalcitrant to identify; often, they’re too late to show a clear connection with Latin vocabulary, but too early to reflect the influence of the Germanic naming practices. That’s exactly where this name falls: There’s nothing about it that gives us an “in” into understanding it.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Have you seen this name — or something like it — before? Please share in the comments if you have!

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Mystery Monday: Teagaton

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

The hardest of names are those that are from one language, rendered into another, often by a scribe that doesn’t know anything about the original language.

One source that we’ve been working through for awhile (it’s one that has to be taken in small chunks, due to the heavy nature of the subject matter) is a register of enslaved people in Florence in the middle of the 14th century. This is a fascinating source from an onomastic point of view because so many of the people were renamed when they were enslaved — and yet, despite this, the notarial records relating to them often include their previous name, as well as the “language” it was in. I put “language” in scare-quotes because most of the time, the recording simply gives the person’s name “in the Tartar language”, and this is not really a single language at all.

So this means we have a large number of likely-Turkic-origin names being rendered in Latin by an Italian speaker — that’s many many layers of obscurity to poke through.

A lot of these names, we’ll probably never known what their actual origin is. But that makes them perfect candidates for Mystery Monday, and it’s why we’ve chosen one such name for today’s post:

Teagaton

We know that Teagaton was of Tartar descent, and that this is a representation of her name in her original language/culture. We haven’t the faintest idea what that original name might have been, and would love to know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Please share in the comments if you do!

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