Mystery Monday: Kolda

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 14th C feminine name found in the Czech Republic. These names are always fun because the open up possible Slavic influences — either at the level of influencing the spelling of Germanic-based names, or in providing names native to the Slavic name stock. We’re not sure which is the case here:

Kolda

Do you have any thoughts about its origin? Any other examples of the name? Please share in the comments!

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Names of twins in a 16th C French register from Canterbury

One of the most fun things about baptismal registers is getting to see the patterns of names that parents choose for multiple children — both singleton kids over a period of years, and multiples in the sense of twins (I’m not sure I’ve ever come across any baptisms of triplets or higher; unsurprisingly). We’re currently working through a 16th C register from the Walloon Church at Canterbury, containing births, marriages, and burials, and have found two examples of twins in the data, one female and one male. In both cases, the twins are given names which are clearly associated with each other/related to each other. On February 19, 1582/3, Rachel and Lea were baptised, and on September 26, 1594, Isaac and Jacob. Isaac was the father of Jacob in the Old Testament, and Jacob’s two wives were sisters, Rachel and Leah — thus, a clear connection between the two names chosen to give to the twins. (Though it would have been even neater if Jacob’s twin had been named Esau instead of Isaac, to directly mirror the Biblical story!)

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Mystery Monday: Iesmonda/Jesmonda

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 found in early 16th C Italy, in a taxation record for one “Faustina cortesana in casa di madona Iesmonda”:
Jesmonda
It’s a particularly vexing name, because for more than a year now there has been some clue about its origin hovering just outside of ready access memory, and no matter how ingenious we’ve been in our searching, we just can’t figure it out. So we’re tapping in to the collective knowledge of the internet: What is the very-similar-but-not-quite identical word that we haven’t been able to think of that is the likely candidate for this name’s origin? If you know, or have a thought, please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Iran/Yran

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 odd little one. We’ve got four different grammatical forms of the name, which all occur in the same charter in reference to the same person. All the documented forms spell it with initial Y-, but since Y forms are always atypical we have hypothesized a standardized form with I- — but it is definitely nothing more than hypothesized!

Iran

The record comes from Tirol, and many of the other names in the same source show distinct Germanic influences, so it would be reasonable to look to Germanic origins as well as to Romance. On the Germanic side, the name could be related to Old Saxon, Old High German īsarn ‘iron’, which does show up in names in the form iren. But is yran a reasonable extrapolation from iren? We’re really not sure.

And we’re even less sure what a possible Romance origin of the name could be.

Do you have any thoughts? Seen any other examples of this name? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Hoccadei

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.

Here’s a fun one! It’s from a survey of Glastonbury Abbey in 1189. The 12th C is a fascinating transition period in onomastics in the Isles, as one sees the Old English names fall in popularity, and the new Norman names come rushing up to fill the void. But of course it’s not just a matter of Old English versus Norman; one can’t forget the other native Celtic names some of which managed to hang on, or the rising popularity of Greek and Hebrew saints’ names, or the developments towards the 13th C fad for fantastically lyrical names of Latin origin. Of all of these interplaying factors, today’s name can possibly be fit onto the last.
Hoccadei
The form Hoccadei is itself in the nominative (given the context it occurs in), which means the most likely interpretation of -dei, (gen. of Lat. deus ‘God’), is that this is a phrase-name, akin to Donadei, Gratiadei, and Homodeus/Homodei. But then the mystery is: What is Hocca? It’s not in our Latin dictionaries, even if we drop the possibly excrescent ‘h’. (Well, occa is a Latin word, but not one relevant to the present contexts; it’s an imperative verb form, which we do not find in personal names.)

What could it be? Do you have any suggestions? Or have we been mislead by the -dei, and this isn’t a Latin phrase name after all? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Goluli

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.

Some of the names we have, we simply haven’t any idea whatsoever what their origins might be. Eventually, we will probably give up on some of them, and enter them into the Dictionary with “origin unknown”, but we don’t want to do that, and always hope that somewhere, sometime, someone might have a clue that will help us puzzleout the name.

Today’s name is one of those. It’s recorded in a Latin document from 13th C Poland, and we’re forced to admit, we haven’t a clue. Do you? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments!

Goluli

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Three French documents relating to Africa

Most of the time when we’re working through sources culling names from them, our primary interest is in the names themselves, and not the contents of the documents (though sometimes of course you find something interesting, such as a reference to a person you know (I found Peter Abelard once!) or an interesting legal dispute, or socio-economical titbits such as women owning land and donating it to the church). We recently came across a short little article [1] in a 19th C journal that had three documents in it which were absolutely fascinating both from a linguistic/onomastic point of view as well as from a historical point of view, so we thought we’d talk a bit about them here.

One of the by-products of keeping detailed geographical information for each citation is often having to go on investigations to match medieval Latin placename forms with modern places. A lot of times, it’s easy — the common names (e.g., “Parisius”) show up a lot and are linguistically related to their modern forms. Other times, the connection isn’t immediately obvious, especially when it’s a smaller, less important city. (My knowledge of French geography has increased significantly in the last five years.) Usually the first step is to plug the Latin form of the name into wikipedia, and see if there are any hits; quite often there will be some documentary quote in the entry of the relevant modern city that includes the historical form of the name, and then it’s just a matter of triangulating what we know about the city from the document it’s mentioned in to the info in the wikipedia article to confirm that we’ve got the right one (important when there is more than one city with the same, or similar, name). The title of this article, “Chartes Inédits Relatives aux États de Bougie et de Bone (1268-1293-1480)” mentioned two cities — or rather “states” — that I didn’t recognise, but since the introductory material to the article mentioned Marseille, so I figured it would be somewhere in that area.

So I was totally taken by surprised when I found out that “Bougie” is a historic French name for the Algerian city Béjaïa, and that “Bone” (more properly “Bône”) or “Bona” is an old French name for the Algerian city Annaba, aka Hippo, where the great Saint Augustine came from.

Records from/relating to Algeria! From the middle of the 13th-century, Algeria was ruled by the Hafsid sultanate, but there were close connections between it and southern France, and thus these documents fall squarely within the scope of the Dictionary.

The first document, from 1268, is in Latin, and written under the authority of Guillaume Dagenessa, “vicarius” of Marseille, on behalf of Charles, king of Sicily, and concerns the establishment of a consulate at Bougie, with one Hugues Borgonion, a merchant, nominated as consul.

The third document, from 1480, is in Middle French and is from “Loys, par la grace de Dieu, roy de France, conte de Prouvence, et seigneur de Marceille” to “le illustrissime roy de Bone nostre chier amy”, who is, alas, unnamed, but who is the son of “le roy de Thunys”, that is, Tunisia (presumably, Uthman, Hafsid caliph from 1435–1488). The editor of the treatise speculates that the person in question might be Abu Yahya Zakariya, who was caliph of Ifriqiya from 1490-1494. It truly is a shame that the letter does not name its recipient!

The second document, from 1293, is by far the most exciting one. First, it is written not in Marseille about Béjaïa — it is written in Béjaïa, to be sent back to Marseille! Second, it is the first document in Old Occitan that we have had the opportunity to work with for the Dictionary. Three men are named — Guillem de Cadenet, “cavallier et viguier de Marseilha”, the recipient of the letter; and the two authors, Peire Jordan and Peire de Gerusalem, consuls, who are written to Guillem on behalf of all the merchants from Marseille in Béjaïa. (There is something somehow fitting about how out of three men, we only get two names. The popularity of forms of Peter in southern France is distinctive and pervasive, and while we would have loved to have more variety in these scant examples, it is satisfying to see the general pattern reinforced by such a small data set.)

What tremendously exciting documents to have come across, and we look forward to the next edition of the Dictionary which will boast not only its first names in Old Occitan but also its first names from Algeria!


References:

[1] L. de Mas Latrie, ed., “Chartes Inédits Relatives aux États de Bougie et de Bone (1268-1293-1480)”, appearing in vol. 2 of Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartres (1840-41), pages 388-397.

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