Everything old is new again

There are a host of brilliantly clever and amusing little bots on twitter, from those that generate poetry (some better, some worse) to ones who tweet gruesome medieval deaths. We recently discovered an excellent onomastic one, Neural Names, “a bot who posts a new name generated by a neural network every 30 minutes”. Check it out — the bot is good. Almost every single name it tweets is alausible 21st C Western name (sometimes more likely American than British, but not surprising given that it’s located in Standard) and the few that aren’t you could easily see in a bad fantasy novel.

But what we’ve been enjoying doing is combine through the autogenerated names to find out which ones are not new creations, but can be found in historical records. We thought we’d share a few of our finds here today!

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Mystery Monday: Briant/Brianda

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 we’ve actually got TWO names, because we have a passing suspicion that one is the feminine form of the other. The first is Briant/Brient, which is found in France between the 12th and 14th centuries:
Briant
These French examples are from Paris and Chartres, both in the north, which makes it tempting to associated the name with Proto-Brythonic *brigonos, and to claim a Breton connection.

But if we take the possible feminine form — Brianda — the evidence for this name that we have makes the Breton connection seem less likely, for our examples of Brianda are from Italy and Spain, not France — this would be quite far south and west to find a Breton-influenced name:
Brianda
Perhaps we’re wrong in connecting the two names. Perhaps we’re wrong about the origin of Briant. Do you have any thoughts? Any French examples of Brianda? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Alpoh

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 an early masculine name from Italy, one which is neither clearly of Romance origin nor clearly of Germanic origin — unless it is related to Old High German alb ‘elf’, which is currently our best guess at etymology. Do you have any other examples? Any corroborating evidence? Any alternative hypotheses? Please share in the comments!

Alpoh

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The return of -cock and -kin

Over a year ago we discussed two unusual English diminutive suffices, -co(c)k and -kin. At the time, we said of -co(c)k:

This suffix was never common, and we don’t currently have any examples in our data, but look forward eagerly to the day when we do!

Well, now we do! So we thought we’d devote a post to revisiting these suffices.

We have recently been working through the 1379 poll tax of the West Riding of Yorkshire, which is delightful in that not only has a number of given names recorded in diminutive form, but also — despite being recorded in Latin — a surfeit of vernacular matronymic and patronymic bynames based on diminutives. In addition to adding the given name citations directly to the Dictionary’s database, we have also been adding the evidence from the bynames to the body of the relevant entries. This data will be available in the next edition.

-kin first. To our previous examples of -kin, we can now add diminutives of William Wilke, Wilken, Wilkin, Wilkyn, and Wylkyn. The -kyn spelling is favored in this dataset; we also have Adken, Adkyn, Atkyn, Attkyn (from Adam), Jonkyn (from https://dmnes.org/name/John”>John), and Perkyn (from Peter). The suffix was not exclusive to men; our final example, Malkyn, is a diminutive of Mary.

And, *drum rolls*, our two new examples of -cock! Adcok is another diminutive of Adam and Wilkoc is another reduction of William.

These are not the only diminutive suffices we find in this dataset, and they are certainly not the most common ones. We will set about exploring the nicknames of Yorkshire in a future post!

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Mystery Monday: Zuhalo

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 Polish — or at least, it occurs in a Latin record from Poland, and it isn’t obvious Latinized, so it’s most likely a representation of some genuinely Slavic name or Slavic spelling.

We have no idea what. Do you have any thoughts? If so, please share in the comments!

Zuhaloa

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Mystery Monday: Ymatke

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 masculine name recorded in Latin in Latvia. It has a clearly identifiable Low German diminutive suffix, -ke, but the root name is uncertain. Do you have any guesses? Have you see the name before? Please let us know in the comments.

Ymatke

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Recent publications

DMNES staff members have some cool new publications either recently published or forthcoming, so we thought we’d do a quick round-up of them:

  • Mariann Slíz. 2015. “Byzantine Influence on the Name-giving Practises of the Hungarian Árpád Dynasty”, in Egedi-Kovács Emese szerk., Byzance et l’Occident II. Tradition, transmission, traduction. Collège Eötvös József ELTE, Budapest. 171–181.
  • Mariann Slíz. 2015. “Occupational names in the Hungarian family name system”, in Oliviu Felecan ed., Name and Naming, Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Onomastics “Name and Naming”. Conventional / Unconventional in Onomastics. Baia Mare, September 1–3, 2015. Editura Mega – Editura Argonaut, Cluj-Napoca. 328–338.
  • Mariann Slíz. 2016. Personal Names in Medieval Hungary, Beiträge zur Lexikographie und Namenforschung 9 (Baar-Verlag).
  • Mariann Slíz. 2016. “Personal Names Originating from Literature or Motion Picture in the Hungarian Name Stock – A Historical Survey”, in Carole Hough – Daria Izdebska eds., Names and Their Environment, Proceedings of the 25th International Congress of Onomastic Sciences, Glasgow, 15-19 August 2014. 1–5, University of Glasgow, Glasgow. 3: 247–254.
  • Sara L. Uckelman & Mariann Slı́z. 2015. “Többnyelvű névtani lexikográfia: a Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources elnevezésű nemzetközi szótári projekt (Cross-linguistic onomastic lexicography: The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources)”, Névtani Értesı́tő, 37: 203–221.
  • Sara L. Uckelman. 2016. “Review of Donna Thornton and Kevin Murray, Bibliography of Publications on Irish Placenames“, Peritia, 27: 306–307.
  • Sara L. Uckelman, Sonia Murphy, & Joseph Percer. 2017. “What’s in a name? History and fantasy in Game of Thrones“, in Brian A. Pavlac, ed., The Game of Thrones versus History (Wiley-Blackwell).

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